News From the College

ACS delegation shapes policy at AMA HOD meeting


The American Medical Association (AMA) Interim Meeting of the House of Delegates (HOD) took place November 11–14, 2017, in Honolulu, HI. A total of 532 delegates were in attendance to debate the policy implications of 36 reports and 99 resolutions.

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) sent a six-member delegation to the meeting. The ACS also participates in AMA activities in other capacities, including in the AMA Young Physician Section Assembly, the AMA Resident and Fellow Section Assembly, and the AMA Council on Medical Education. These three groups met in conjunction with the HOD meeting. See the sidebar on page 74 for the list of ACS delegates and their other AMA roles.

ACS cosponsored issues

The AMA HOD brings together a variety of perspectives in medicine, and the job of the ACS delegation is to shape AMA policy consistent with College priorities. One way the ACS achieves this objective is by cosponsoring resolutions that have been submitted by other delegations and that are relevant to the College Fellowship. The ACS delegation cosponsored the following three resolutions at the November meeting—two on scope-of-practice issues and one on physician payment—all of which were adopted.

Resolution 214, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) Compact, was initiated by the American Society of Anesthesiologists and strengthened with amendments. AMA policy opposes enactment of the Advanced APRN Multistate Compact because of its potential to supersede state laws that require APRNs to practice under physician supervision, as well as legislation that authorizes the independent practice of medicine by any individual who has not completed the state’s requirement for licensure to practice medicine. The AMA will convene an in-person meeting of relevant physician stakeholders to create a consistent national strategy to prevent fulfillment of the APRN Compact.

Resolution 230, Oppose Physician Assistant Independent Practice, with support from a spectrum of state medical and national specialty societies, continued the theme of opposition to legislation or regulation that allows physician extenders—in this case physician assistants—to practice independently. Another resolution addressed the emerging advanced physician assistant degree known as doctor of medical science. The AMA opposes holders of this degree from being recognized as a new category of health care practitioners licensed for the independent practice of medicine.

Resolution 808, Opposition to Reduced Payment for the 25-Modifier, was offered by the American Academy of Dermatology. The resolution was a response to private insurers discounting evaluation and management (E/M) codes by 50 percent when linked through the 25-modifier to a procedure on the same day. This resolution passed as simplified by amendment to have AMA aggressively and immediately advocate, through any legal means possible (such as direct payor negotiations, regulations, legislation, or litigation), for non-reduced allowable payment of appropriately reported 25-modifier E/M codes when linked with procedures.

Other HOD-adopted resolutions of interest

BOT (Board of Trustees) Report 5, Effective Peer Review, amended the AMA Physician and Medical Staff Member Bill of Rights to add “protection from any retaliatory actions” to the list of immunity rights when physicians participate in good faith peer-review activities. In testimony at the reference committee, the delegation highlighted the value of the new ACS “red book,” Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety, for establishing peer-review standards in surgical care.

Council on Science and Public Health Report 2, Targeted Education to Increase Organ Donation, amended the AMA policy, Methods to Increase the U.S. Organ Donor Pool. As a result, the AMA supports studies that evaluate the effectiveness of mandated choice and presumed consent models for increasing organ donation and urges development of effective methods to inform populations with historically low participation rates about donating.

Resolution 953, Fees for Taking Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Examination, amended AMA MOC policy to assert that the MOC process should reflect the cost of development and administration of the MOC components, ensure a fair fee structure, and not hinder patient care. The AMA will advocate that value in MOC includes cost-effectiveness with full financial transparency, respect for physicians’ time and patient care commitments, alignment of MOC requirements with other regulator and payor requirements, and adherence to an evidence basis for both MOC content and processes.

Not every item was viewed favorably at the AMA meeting. Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) Report 1, Competence, Self-Assessment and Self-Awareness, sought to provide guidance for physicians in determining their own competence when practicing medicine. The council observed, “As an ethical responsibility, competence encompasses more than medical knowledge and skill. It requires physicians to understand that as a practical matter in the care of actual patients, competence is fluid and dependent on context.” Considerable testimony emphasized a lack of reliable tools and available resources to assist physicians in self-assessment. Thus, the report was referred back to CEJA for more work.

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