The 2007 AMA House of Delegates interim meeting was held November 10–13 in Honolulu. The ACR was represented by its delegate, Melvin Britton, MD, and alternate delegate, Gary Bryant, MD.
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Explore This IssueFebruary 2008
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Advocacy was the main focus of this year’s meeting. Delegates spoke on behalf of doctors who are concerned about the current healthcare legislation in Washington, D.C., and want a change.
Because advocacy is not something that can be done by one person, the AMA approaches it is a group effort that involves the AMA, delegates, specialty societies like the ACR, and states, to name a few. For example, the AMA had phones available in the registration area to encourage delegates to call their representatives and express their concerns on issues such as State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Medicare balanced billing, and the 10.1% Medicare physician fee cut.
Although it is a priority of the AMA, the SCHIP resolution was rejected in the AMA House of Delegates. The resolution asked that SCHIP be reauthorized for all children at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. This resolution also includes a transition to insurance coverage for the children who are enrolled in SCHIP by 2010. The AMA believes the House of Delegates should continue to support alternatives that will expand coverage as long as they adhere to AMA policy.
Also discussed at the meeting was Medicare Balanced Billing, a way for physicians to offset the 10.1% physician fee cut. Balanced billing would allow physicians to bill patients for the difference in reimbursement rates and what it costs to treat them. The AMA aims to provide the necessary political and monetary resources to bring this concept to fruition. A similar plan has also been developed to revise the current Medicare physician fee structure through legislation.
The younger members of the AMA also had a large presence at the meeting. The Medical Student Section sent volunteers to a high school football game in Honolulu to speak with spectators regarding the uninsured in the United States, and to ask that they remember these uninsured when they vote in the presidential election. For more information on the AMA’s “Voice for the Uninsured Campaign,” visit www.ama-assn.org
Finally, this meeting was one of transition for the ACR, as Dr. Britton retired as the ACR AMA delegate at the conclusion of the meeting. As the ACR’s delegate, Dr. Britton has demonstrated a sincere dedication to ACR advocacy efforts, to rheumatology as a specialty, and physicians as a profession, and his hard work is appreciated.