Scope of Work
The American Medical Association House of Delegates (AMA HOD) is the main policymaking body of the AMA consisting of senior physicians, resident physicians, and students. The AMA HOD is a democratic congress that represents the views and interests of a diverse group of members who continually strive to work together to create effective policies on health, medical, professional and government topics. The AMA HOD consists of over 500 voting delegates representing states, specialty societies AMA Sections including Integrated Physician Practice, International Medical Graduates, Minority Affairs, Academic Physicians, Medical Students, Organized Medical Staff, Residents and Fellows, Senior Physicians, Women Physicians and Young Physicians. As an AAFP Delegate to the AMA HOD, my purpose is to represent the AAFP and its policies at both the interim and annual meetings of the AMA. I recently attended the AMA HOD Interim meeting held virtually via video conference and provide the following report:
Discussion and Actions
During this past year, some of the key issues and discussions have focused on many different aspects of health care that affect family medicine physicians and our patients.
At the interim meeting in November 2020, we discussed topics such as:
- Improving access to substance use disorder treatment amid evolving overdose epidemic
- Protecting residents and fellows affected by unexpected hospital closures
- Regulation and enforcement of the dietary supplement industry to remove unsafe products from the market and protect public health
- Focus on addressing social determinants of health (SDOH) using a comprehensive approach as recommended by the AMA Council on Medical Services
- Ensure that Medicaid patients have access to health care by adopting policy to “support increases in states’ Federal Medical Assistance Percentages or other funding during significant economic downturns to allow state Medicaid programs to continue serving Medicaid patients and cover rising enrollment.
- Develop policy regarding drug shortages as an ongoing public health concern in the U.S. to avoid increases in new shortages, resulting in compromised patient care and pharmacy operations.
- Adopt policy to ensure that the AMA will continue to be a leading voice in the ongoing efforts to reshape the continuing board certification (CBC) process.
- Create effective policy to direct the AMA to institute a program to promote the integrity of a COVID-19 vaccination program by:
- Educating physicians on speaking with patients about COVID-19 vaccination
- Educating the public about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines by countering misinformation and building public confidence.
- Supporting ongoing monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that the evidence continues to support safe and effective use of vaccines among recommended populations.
There were other items of business that we discussed, contributed to, and voted upon, but these were the primary highlights and areas of focus throughout this year.
Importance of Utah Academy of Family Physicians involvement
During the AMA House of Delegates, the AAFP leadership uses existing AAFP policy to testify and fight for specific policy that affects the family medicine profession and patients receiving primary care. Official AAFP policy is created and reaffirmed at the AAFP’s House of Delegates. It is important to bring Utah family medicine ideas and values to the AAFP meetings. Resolutions and policies that are created by our UAFP House of Delegates are used to shape AAFP policy, which ultimately affects AMA policy. Through this “trickle-up process,” Utah family medicine physicians can have a voice with local and national policy. It is vital to continue our involvement in the policy process and have our voices heard.
It is an honor to serve as an AAFP delegate and to add my voice to advocate for family medicine and primary care. The future of family medicine is bright and depends on us. With consistent hard work and passion, we will improve the lives of our patients, society, and profession. I look forward to continually working with you individually and collectively in the future to further the AAFP’s and UAFP’s mission and purpose.
By Tyson Schwab, MD MS