The 2008 annual meeting of the American Medical Association House of Delegates completed its business and closed up shop a day ahead of schedule Tuesday, something even the old-timers in the house said they had never seen happen before.
The session was missing some of the fire and contention that had marked recent house gatherings. The delegates calmly considered and debated new AMA policies and elected a new slate of leaders.
Among the highlights were:
- A moving opening address from AMA President Ron Davis, MD, who was stricken with pancreatic cancer midway through his term of office (watch a video of Dr. Davis' speech).
- The house adopted policy to strongly oppose the Hospital Acquired Condition—Present on Admission (HAC-POA) law, developed new guidelines on international medical tourism, said it would be a "grievous error" for President Bush to veto a bill that increases physicians' Medicare fees if it pays for that increase with cuts in subsidies to Medicare Advantage plans, and adopted new strategies to address medical students' growing educational debt.
- AMA published its first National Health Insurers Report Card.
- The installation of New York internist Nancy Nielson, MD, as the AMA's second female president, and the selection of Jim Rohack, MD, a cardiologist from Texas, as president-elect. (AMA says Dr. Rohack would be the fifth AMA president from Texas; do you know who the other four are?)
Two of the three resolutions Texas brought to the meeting won approval from the house. Those resolutions call on AMA to:
- Help physicians move toward e-prescribing, such as by winning approval to remove the requirement that physicians handwrite “brand medically necessary” on Medicaid prescriptions.; and
- Study the penalties for using health savings accounts for nonmedical purposes.
The house also adopted a Texas proposal to have AMA support state legislation that would make it a felony for a person to misrepresent himself or herself as an MD/DO physician. "Patients need clear and evident protection from individuals masquerading as an MD or DO physician," said Dallas dermatologist Dan McCoy, MD, who developed the proposal.