AMA's advocacy agenda: 7 goals requiring medicine's strength
■ The AMA has targeted seven key advocacy issues critical to protect the nation's health care.
Posted Jan. 24, 2005.
As the 109th Congress convened earlier this month, representatives and senators from across the country were no doubt contemplating their own agendas for the upcoming legislative session.
They should fully expect to be asked to make items from the American Medical Association's health care advocacy agenda a priority as well. The agenda focuses on national issues, some practice-focused, some patient-focused, but all designed to help doctors help their patients. The seven-item list is the AMA response to something its members have called for -- focused advocacy efforts. In its own words, here are the items the AMA will be fighting for:
1. Medical liability reform: Medical liability premiums are disastrously high, and the situation is only getting worse for physicians and patients. The AMA is taking a two-pronged legislative approach to stabilizing rates. It is pressing Congress for MICRA-like reforms, including a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages. The Association also supports state efforts to pass reforms similar to AMA-proposed federal solutions.
2. Medicare payment reform: The AMA is fighting for legislation that would fix Medicare's fatally flawed reimbursement formula, which is expected to result in a 31% decrease in physician payments over the next seven years. The Association also is pursuing regulatory changes that would reduce the effect of the proposed cuts.
3. Expanding coverage for the uninsured and increasing access:The AMA is building public and political support for initiatives that expand health insurance coverage through tax credits and insurance market reforms and those that move toward individually owned health insurance.
4. Clinical quality improvement and patient safety:The AMA is advocating for legislation to promote voluntary reporting systems for improving patient care with strong confidentiality protections. It is also working for a fair and balanced framework for implementation of public and private quality improvement initiatives, and developing and implementing clinical performance measures for treating major diseases.
5. Improving public health: The AMA will continue its work to promote healthy lifestyles by conducting scientific research and development, and by disseminating to physicians clinical resources regarding the prevention and treatment of problems such as obesity, drug and alcohol abuse, and violence. The Association also is striving to eliminate health disparities through its work to improve outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities and to raise physicians' awareness in their role in ending these disparities.
6. Regulatory relief: The AMA will aggressively press Congress and the Bush administration to reduce costly and counterproductive regulatory burdens and end unfunded mandates.
7. Managed care reform: The AMA is combating third-party interference that burdens physicians and hinders quality of care. This work includes efforts to eliminate unnecessary hassles and unfair payment practices and to promote reimbursement decisions that are based on optimal patient care, rather than economics.
The AMA plans to update its members regularly about its progress on the health care advocacy agenda. The Association expects members to hold it accountable. But, just as important, the regular reports will inform AMA members of ways they can become involved in the Association's efforts.
When the AMA and America's physicians work in tandem to make progress on these items of critical importance to the nation's health, they bring life to the promise of the AMA's motto, "Together we are stronger."