ASSH-AAHS Delegates’ AMA REPORT
2011 AMA Interim Meeting
November 12-15, 2011
The highlights of the meeting:
- AMA reaffirmed its support of private contracting between physicians and patients without penalty, a proposal specifically important with regard to Medicare patients. A bill to this effect has been introduced in Congress by AAOS and AMA member Tom Price (R-GA), but it has few sponsors and slim prospects at the moment
- AMA accepted, after several years of revision, a new ethical position on the use of industry funding for CME that reads:
Individually and collectively, physicians must ensure that the profession independently defines the goals of physician education, determines educational needs, and sets its own priorities for CME. Physicians who attend CME activities should expect that, in addition to complying with all applicable professional standards for accreditation and certification, their colleagues who organize, teach, or have other roles in CME will:
(a) be transparent about financial relationships that could potentially influence educational activities.
(b) provide the information physician-learners need to make critical judgments about an educational activity, including:
(i) the source(s) and nature of commercial support for the activity; and/or
(ii) the source(s) and nature of any individual financial relationships with industry related to the subject matter of the activity; and
(iii) what steps have been taken to mitigate the potential influence of financial relationships.
(c) protect the independence of educational activities by:
(i) ensuring independent, prospective assessment of educational needs and priorities;
(ii) adhering to a transparent process for prospectively determining when industry support is needed;
(iii) giving preference in selecting faculty or content developers to similarly qualified experts who do not have financial interests in the educational subject matter;
(iv) ensuring a transparent process for making decisions about participation by physicians who may have a financial interest in the educational subject matter;
(v) permitting individuals who have a substantial financial interest in the educational subject matter to participate in CME only when their participation is central to the success of the educational activity; the activity meets a demonstrated need in the professional community; and the source, nature, and magnitude of the individual’s specific financial interest is disclosed; and
(vi) taking steps to mitigate potential influence commensurate with the nature of the financial interest(s) at issue, such as prospective peer review.
- AMA referred for study a proposal to adopt cost consciousness as an ethical principle.
- AMA continues to oppose the use of ICD-10 coding as burdensome and expensive, with little evidence of additional value either administratively or clinically
- AMA voted to create a new Section, for members of integrated physician led multispecialty groups
- AAHS Delegate Peter Amadio is Chair of the Specialty and Service Societies, and vice chair of the Group Practice Advisory Committee. Hand surgeon Andrew Gurman is Speaker of the HOD.
- As always, AMA appoints members of, and is therefore a great opportunity to position hand surgeons on, key bodies such as Joint Commission, RUC, CPT panel, specialty Boards and Residency Review Committees.
Unfortunately, there was one negative note
- ASSH was put on one year probation for failing to meet membership criteria, specifically percent participation of ASSH members in AMA.
Despite this, your AMA representatives continue to believe that the AMA provides an important and irreplaceable service to the medical profession in general and hand surgeons in particular. We are confident that the campaign already initiated by ASSH leadership will correct the situation and preserve ASSH representation at the AMA. The AMA Hand Surgery Caucus also recommends that there be AMA related education and an AMA booth at the ASSH meeting in Chicago in September 2012 and that ASSH members who belong to the AMA be encouraged to discuss AMA participation with their colleagues who are not members of the AMA.
Even if one disagrees with AMA policy, your AMA representatives believe that participation is the only way to effect change. AMA remains the only medical organization whose policy is, by design, formed by input from other organizations (indeed, as much as possible, from the input of ALL physician organizations), even while there is no reciprocal obligation or expectation that organizations providing input to AMA should in any way be bound by AMA policy (though it would be nice if doctors could, like hospitals, insurance companies and the drug/device industry, speak with one voice). Hand surgeons currently play a major leadership role within AMA. But the ability of the AMA to work for physicians, and to represent physicians effectively, is determined in a large part by the percentage of American physicians who belong to the AMA.
Your AMA representatives encourage all physicians to do their fair share and support the AMA as members, and to participate in the debate to define and create the future of American medicine. Remember, all American physicians benefit from the activities of the AMA, whether they are members or not. It is not fair for the burden of all this activity to be borne by the few, for the benefit of the many. We look forward to continuing to serve you in the AMA House of Delegates in the coming year.
Peter C. Amadio, MD and Nicholas Vedder, MD; AAHS delegate and alternate
David M. Lichtman, MD and Stewart Haskin, MD; ASSH delegate and alternate