For example, current AMA Board of Trustees Chair Patrice Harris is an African-American female psychiatrist from Atlanta, Dr. Bryant says, adding that one of the two candidates vying to be the next president elect of the AMA is a woman, like two of the five who came before.
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In conversations Dr. Bryant has had with many AMA leaders over the past decade or more, he has observed that although no large membership organization can please everyone at all times, the AMA values its members and believes “everyone’s voice should be heard and respected.”
A Controversial Move
Recently, Dr. Harris announced the AMA’s support for the nomination by President Trump of Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Bryant acknowledges that some in the rheumatology community may consider this controversial, but in his experience working with the AMA, he sees it as evidence that the AMA hopes to have “a prominent seat at the table” and “perhaps more clout” as Congress debates repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
“I also assume they feel that he is at least inclined to listen to the AMA point of view,” says Dr. Bryant. Indeed, Rep. Price, an orthopedic surgeon, served as an AMA delegate for many years. “This would extend the AMA’s influence with recent HHS secretaries.”
In her announcement published Dec. 1, 2016, Dr. Harris wrote, “The AMA will actively engage Dr. Price, other leaders in the incoming Trump administration and Congress in discussions on the health system’s future direction. We remain devoted to improving health insurance coverage so that patients receive timely, high-quality care, preventive services and other necessary medical treatments. And for us, a core principle with regard to any proposed health system reform is that it should not cause anyone who has health insurance coverage now to lose it.”
Other core principles of the AMA include:
- Improving health outcomes;
- Accelerating change in medical education; and
- Enhancing physician satisfaction and practice sustainability by shaping delivery and payment models.
In weighing whether to help the ACR achieve its goals on behalf of the rheumatology community through membership in the AMA, Dr. Bryant says, “Obviously the proof is in the actions that the AMA is taking now and in the future. Every ACR member should make their individual choice whether to support the AMA or not. I hope most will keep an open mind. By having as many members as possible, we can we increase our voice.”