AMA House of Delegates

AMA meeting: Delegates seek tax credit to help pay for EMRs

Also, the AMA will develop contracting guidelines for doctors who accept health IT donations from hospitals.

By Kevin B. O’Reilly — Posted Dec. 3, 2007

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The AMA House of Delegates said physicians should get a full, refundable tax credit to help them buy and use health information technology such as electronic medical record and prescribing systems.

While private and government payers have asked doctors to implement quality initiatives that are highly dependent on EMRs, they do little to help cover those costs. Physicians' reimbursement -- often tied to pay-for-performance programs -- should not be contingent on their ability to pay for EMRs, the house said at its Interim Meeting here last month.

Of the nearly 5,000 physicians who responded to an AMA survey about Interim Meeting resolutions, 79% backed the idea of a tax credit to defray EMR costs.

Delegates also directed the AMA to develop contracting guidelines to help physicians stay within federal rules adopted last year that govern doctors' accepting health IT from hospitals.

"The high cost of health information technology is still a major roadblock to universal adoption, and accepting or donating an electronic health record system can be an option for many physicians," said AMA Trustee J. James Rohack, MD. "This guidance should help physicians determine their needs and develop a mutually beneficial contract agreement."

As part of the new policy, the AMA will encourage hospitals to make their systems interoperable and easy to use.

The house also reaffirmed the AMA's support for legislation promoting technology-neutral health IT, as well as regulations requiring standardized security measures such as data encryption.

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Meeting notes: Other actions

Issue: Patients may get mixed signals about messages to quit smoking when hospitals and other places where they receive care also sell cigarettes.

Proposed action: Oppose tobacco sales at any facility where health services are provided. [ Adopted ]

Issue: A declining number of family physicians and internists and fewer medical students are choosing primary care as a career.

Proposed action: Study barriers to primary care medicine as a career choice and the impact of these barriers on the profession of medicine as a whole and on access to health care. [ Adopted, report expected at 2008 Interim Meeting ]

Released: AMA 2007 and 2008 finances

Reported: Operating profits are projected to be $13.9 million in 2007, $3.2 million better than projections for the year. In 2008, a $9.8 million operating surplus is expected. But the AMA is forecasting a $6.3 million operating loss for next year because it plans to spend $16.1 million of its reserves on media buys for its campaign on access to care for the uninsured.

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