AMA Adopts New Policies to Improve Health of Nation on Day Two of Interim Meeting

ama-twitter-200The American Medical Association (AMA), the premier national physician organization, gathered physician and medical student leaders representing all aspects of medicine during its Interim Meeting and voted to adopt new policies on emerging health care topics.

The AMA’s House of Delegates is the policy-making body at the center of American medicine, bringing together an inclusive group of physicians, medical students and residents representing every state and medical field. Delegates work in a democratic process to create a national physician consensus on emerging issues in public health, science, ethics, business and government to continually provide safer, higher quality and more efficient care for patients and communities.

The policies adopted by the House of Delegates today include:

Taking Bold Steps to Reduce Burdens of Meaningful Use Program
Recently, an AMA-led coalition of 111 medical societies called on Congressional leaders to refocus the Meaningful Use program on the goal of achieving a truly interoperable system of electronic health records.

This urgent call for action comes in the wake of the administration’s decision to move ahead with implementation of Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use (MU) program despite widespread failure of Stage 2. In a string of letters to House and Senate leaders, the AMA and other medical societies noted that what has emerged from the administration is a “morass of regulation” for a program that has “failed to focus on interoperability and has instead created new barriers to easily exchange data and information across care settings.”

The AMA adopted new policy that seeks revisions to quality standards and MU requirements to make them more streamlined, usable and less burdensome. The AMA also adopted new policy that would enhance its efforts to accelerate the development and adoption of universal and enforceable electronic health record (EHR) interoperability standards for all vendors before the implementation of the Medicare Incentive Based Payment (MIPs).

“The AMA wants the Meaningful Use program to succeed, but swift Congressional action is needed to refocus the goals of the program on promoting better coordinated and high-quality patient care instead of burdensome, administrative tasks for physicians,” said AMA Immediate Past Chair Barbara L. McAneny, M.D.

As part of an ongoing effort launched earlier this year, the AMA is encouraging physicians to visit to tell Congress and relevant agencies how rushing MU Stage 3 creates a costly burden and limits innovation.

Support for Veterans to Paramedics Transition Act of 2015
The AMA adopted policy calling for support of federal, bi-partisan legislation that would expedite and streamline paramedic training for returning veterans who have already received emergency medical training while in the military.

Introduced by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Enzi (R-WY), Senate Bill 218 would create the Veterans to Paramedics Transition Act of 2015—authorizing federal grants for universities, colleges, technical schools, and State EMS agencies to develop curricula that would help these veterans more quickly become eligible for paramedic certification.

“The men and women who serve in our nation’s military as medics and corpsmen receive excellent training that should translate into work as paramedics as soon as possible upon their return to the civilian workforce,” said AMA Board Member David O. Barbe, M.D. “Requiring these skilled service men and women to go through redundant, entry-level training is costly, timely and undervalues the relevant experience they’ve already received. We urge Congress to act swiftly to pass the Veterans to Paramedics Transition Act of 2015.”

Enhancing Electronic Tools to Prevent Prescription Opioid Abuse
Continuing efforts to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic, the AMA today adopted policy in support of developing model state legislation that will help further support the AMA’s goal of increasing physician registration and use of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP). The AMA strongly supports ensuring patient privacy protections, interstate interoperability of PDMPs as well as improving the functionality and workflow of these tools to help physicians make informed prescribing decisions.

The policy adopted also calls on the federal government to delay its Meaningful Use (MU) program until real-time integration between EHRs and PDMPs is achieved and electronic prescribing of schedule II and III drugs is available for the country’s MU certified EHRs.

“The AMA is committed to continuing its work with the administration and Congress as well as state leaders on efforts that will modernize and fully fund PDMPs,” said AMA Board Member Patrice A. Harris, M.D. “As part of our ongoing work with the Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse, we will continue to work together with physicians and health care professionals on efforts to help bring an end to our country’s opioid crisis.”

Infertility Benefits for Wounded Warriors
Current law bans the Department of Veterans’ Affairs from covering in vitro fertilization (IVF) costs, which prevents veterans from accessing reproductive treatments and services— a benefit currently available to active duty members. As a result, active U.S. military personnel who separate will lose their eligibility for infertility treatment with IVF even if their condition or infertility stems from an injury sustained while in the-line-of-duty. Today, the AMA adopted policy in support of lifting this Congressional ban in partnership with the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and other interested organizations.

“If and when a veteran and his or her partner feel ready to pursue their dream of becoming parents, we want to ensure that they have access to the reproductive health care services they need and deserve,” said AMA Board Member David O. Barbe. “This policy aligns well with our existing, extensive policies that support all approaches that would increase the flexibility of the Veterans Health Administration to ensure veterans have improved access to quality health care coverage and services.”

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are more than two million female veterans. Over 200,000 women are currently serving in active-duty in the U.S. Military, including 74,000 in the Army, 53,000 in the Navy, 62,000 in the Air Force, and 14,000 in the Marine Corps.