Congress of Delegates Day 2

By Chad Spain, UAFP Alternate Delegate

Day 2 greetings from the 2019 Congress of Delegates in Philadelphia, home of the LIberty Bell, Independence Hall and the famous Eastern State (haunted) Penitentiary (which I most certainly visited). Below I’ll offer highlights of the messages from AAFP leadership in addition to key points surrounding testimony on 2019 resolutions.

“We are all worthy, equal and we all count. We stand for health equity” – Dr. Douglas Henley, VP/CEO AAFP.

Opening with a Bang:

Congress opened with a call for late resolutions and immediately a spirited conversation was had, most particularly surrounding a resolution for the AAFP to take a position of opposition to medical aid in dying. Terminology of this topic will be discussed in another resolution this year and undeniably was a pressing measure at last year’s meeting as well. Due to the late nature of the resolution and fear of inadequate time for chapters to prepare, this late resolution was denied acceptance into the pool of resolutions.

A late resolution was approved for entry regarding a ban of Vaping products which is emerging as a hot topic at this year’s congress. On this particular measure there seems to be quite a bit of unity.

A late-resolution on gun control was not discussed because, well, the writer of the resolution showed up late. Seemed appropriate but I’m proud of the author to stick to their ‘late’ guns.  Sorry, it was too easy.

Messages from our Presidents:

The messages from our past, current and president elect were aligned: we must protect the breadth of our specialty and continue to focus on access to our patients.

Outgoing president Dr. Cullen of Alaska: “We need to blow the walls and top off that box. We can do so much more as family physicians… There is no one out there watching over our patients like we do.”

Incoming president Dr. Gary Leroy spoke of his travels during his president- elect year, commenting on the concerns of family medicine physicians but highlighting the passion of physicians and students alike. He speaks of family medicine being our own specialty and that we should pride ourselves in being physicians. He asks us to look back and lift up the life of young learners seeking guidance. Recounting many of his individual encounters it is clear that Dr. Leroy excels as a listener, observer and has a vision to further enhance our specialty of Family Medicine.

“We must never be afraid to speak out against forces that impact our communities and patients.” – Past president Dr. Munger

Executive VP and CEO of AAFP, Dr. Doulas Henley on declining numbers of inpatient care, pediatric care and obstetric care: “The scope is becoming even more narrow either because we want it to be … or we are allowing others to define our specialty for us.” He delivered a heartfelt speech, his final as VP/CEO after 42 years of involvement with the AAFP

Reference Committees:


UAFP Delegates speaking on resolutions. Left to right, Sarah Woolsey, Chad Spain, and Kirsten Stoesser.

Strong agreements with hopes of reducing administrative burden of refill requests and prior authorizations, advocacy for insurance coverage of acupuncture treatment for chronic pain.

Medical aid in dying terminology (current accepted terminology) discussion was lively, we will see what the reference committee has to put forth tomorrow.

Single payer promotion (lively debate) was alive and well. An interest group was easily recognizable by color coordinated t-shirts and bow-ties to promote single payer resolutions.

Significant debate regarding non-physician practitioners in regards to independent practice APCs providing specialty consultations requested by family physicians. It will be interesting seeing where this goes as testimony was heard both in favor and opposition to this.

Unified voice on medical abortion…. Well, unified in that we all have differing backgrounds and voices when it comes to medical abortion. Actually, there was lots of discussion on this one without cohesiveness, including whether or not advocacy for overturn restrictions on Mifepristone be implemented.

Our own resolutions regarding CME cross promotion and Financial Incentives to Medical Students Going into Family Medicine seemed to go well, we will keep our fingers crossed.

Overall the references committees’ breakouts discussing resolutions were spirited and sparked great debate.  The reference committees will now take the heard testimony into consideration and prepare final drafts of all resolutions for delivery to the board.

Say what? These days can be long and by the end some things are said that make you scratch your head. Enjoy these quotes which I’ll offer without context:

“We do not breastfeed, babies do.”

“We are mammals, we lactate.”

“I am sympathetically opposed to this resolution.”

“I had this little Joey in my pocket.”

Our Utah Delegates did a great job of representing your voice.  Thanks for allowing us to be here and we hope to speak again soon!

Kirsten Stoesser, left, and Chad Spain, two members of the Utah delegation.