President Obama Addresses the AMA

June 22, 2009

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The 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association House of Delegates took place June 12 to 17 in Chicago. Composed of representatives from state and county medical societies as well as medical specialty societies, the House of Delegates is the policy-setting body of the AMA. The American Academy of Neurology has four voting delegates and several representatives.

At this meeting, the AMA considered proposed resolutions ranging from science and technology to legislation to medical education. The highlight of the meeting, however, was a timely address by President Barack Obama on health system reform. Though many presidents have taken on this challenge, none have succeeded. He said that coming together to find real solutions is imperative to avoid financial insolvency as a country. In his speech, he vowed to work with physicians and patients to find solutions and move past stalemate. He spoke highly of the role of evidence-based guidelines in the delivery of high quality, patient-centered care, a position also shared by the Academy. President Obama said he wanted to return to a system that allows physicians to practice medicine and care for patients without being undermined by paper pushing and bean-counting. He also acknowledged the cost of defensive medicine in the health system.

The AMA House of Delegates voted to adopt new policy in several areas of interest to general medical practice as well as neurologists. Highlights included:

  • Recommendations for end-of-life care and advance directive planning
  • Ethical guidelines for handling breaches of electronic health records
  • Support for health system reform alternatives that are consistent with AMA principles of pluralism, freedom of choice, freedom of practice, and universal access for patients
  • Support for the patient-centered medical model as a way to provide care to patients without restricting access to specialty care
  • Support for use of a single standard to determine whether a physician practice qualifies to be a patient-centered medical home
  • Support for public policy that would provide an open source electronic health records that meaningfully represents the interests of physicians and patients
  • Support for the concept of electronic prescribing, as well as financial incentives for its adoption
  • Opposition for financial penalties for physicians that have not adopted electronically prescription technology
  • Support to expand funding for GME positions in specialties and geographic regions with medical work force shortages
  • Support for the right of physicians to enter into private contracts
  • Support for fairness in medical imaging interpretation

Read President Obama's Remarks to the AMA.

For questions or comments, contact Amy Kaloides at akaloides@aan.com or at (651) 695-2736.