This year’s interim meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates (HOD) took place Nov. 12–15, just days after the national election that, in 2017, will usher in a GOP-led Congress and presidential administration.
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“It was a highly interesting meeting,” says Gary Bryant, MD, FACP, associate professor of medicine and rheumatology at the University of Minnesota, and chair of the ACR’s delegation to the AMA.
Solidifying the Stand on Healthcare
With the future of the Affordable Care Act now uncertain, much of the work at the AMA HOD focused on sharing information and solidifying where the AMA stands with regard to new efforts to reform healthcare in the U.S.
“The AMA is a policy-driven organization, and at the meeting a resolution passed that reaffirmed the AMA’s previous policies as the touchstones for how we are going to work with Congress and the new administration, no matter what happens with repeal and replace of the ACA,” says Dr. Bryant.
In a statement issued following the HOD meeting, AMA President Andrew W. Gurman, MD, said the organization is committed to reform that improves access to care for all patients. This was reiterated in a vision statement published by the AMA on Nov. 15, which stated: “The AMA remains committed to improving health insurance coverage and healthcare access so that patients receive timely, high-quality care, preventive services, medications and other necessary treatments.”1
Additional Rheumatology-Related Priorities & Discussion Points
Additionally, Dr. Bryant says several other priorities were discussed that will have an impact on rheumatologists.
For example, the AMA passed a resolution to advocate for the exemption of small practices from some aspects of the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) once the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) is implemented in 2017, because of the difficulties many small, private practitioners may face in trying to comply.
“It passed with a higher level of priority,” says Dr. Bryant, “so the AMA will specifically put more resources toward that advocacy.”
The AMA also plans to address FDA regulations that could make it more challenging for physicians to mix drugs in the office. The HOD put forth a resolution that will seek to exclude ambulatory and surgical centers from these rules.
As a new policy, the AMA will also advocate for independent evaluation of pharmaceutical prices.
“These evaluations have to be transparent and easily accessible, and ease the administrative burdens of obtaining access to pharmaceuticals for our patients,” says Dr. Bryant. “Our patients are on complex, expensive drugs—often biologics—so this is an important thing for us.”