AMA delegates, members agree on smoking ban, claims data

An online survey of members finds common ground on key issues.

By Kevin J. O'Neil, amednews correspondent — Posted Nov. 28, 2005

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Dallas -- AMA members spoke, and the House of Delegates listened.

About 5,400 American Medical Association members responded to a recent online Member Connect survey that asked for their opinions on several resolutions the house was set to consider at the Interim Meeting this month. When it came time to vote, delegates in Dallas were in line with members who participated in the survey.

For example, 79% of respondents favored the Association supporting federal, state and local legislation banning smoking in all places that serve food, including bars, as well as in supermarkets or retail food outlets.

In turn, delegates went even further and called for the AMA to support a ban on smoking in all workplaces.

Delegates also agreed with the 78% of members surveyed who said they favored the AMA advocating for physician ownership of all claims data and medical record information.

The house adopted that as policy and voted to develop guidelines for third-party collection, warehousing and use of electronic medical records and claims data.

In other survey questions, AMA members overwhelmingly supported mandatory health insurance to cover, at a minimum, catastrophic and preventive care, and to ensure that individuals "with incomes between 200-400% of the federal poverty level, who are not eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP, be eligible for a refundable tax credit to support the purchase of health care coverage." Delegates testifying on the resolution expressed support, but referred the issue to the Board of Trustees for further study.

Some delegates said they found the surveys useful in debates. Robert Hertzka, MD, immediate past president of the California Medical Assn., told delegates at one reference committee hearing that he was "wildly supportive" of the surveys.

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