Delegates discuss, act on federal health care reform
by Kate Alfano, CMS Communications Coordinator
Featured in the July/August 2017 Colorado Medicine.
The Colorado delegation to the American Medical Association traveled to Chicago in mid-June for the AMA Annual Meeting of the House of Delegates where much of the focus was on federal health care reform. In line with this focus, a subsection of the CMS delegation traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. (See related article here.)
“Bottom line: 23 million people lose coverage,” said AMA Senior Vice President of Advocacy Richard Deem during an educational session, referring to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in May.
Now that the Senate is debating its version of the bill, the AMA is urging senators to preserve the Medicaid expansion, support continued coverage of pre-existing conditions, and fund cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) to help those with low incomes afford insurance.
“We are at a crossroads here,” Deem said. “Are we going to move forward and fix some of the problems with the ACA [Affordable Care Act], or are we going to retreat on some of the goals we set for improving health care for the nation?”
The threat to health care coverage in the current environment seemed to unite the AMA House of Delegates in a common purpose, said AMA Delegate Lynn Parry, MD, and there was practically no partisan bickering – a “sea change” from past years. “The AMA HOD was solidly behind a resounding ‘no’ to caps on Medicaid,” she said. “For the first time that I can recall, a discussion of health care as a right was accepted as a legitimate matter for referral and report, and there was a proposal for a public option brought forward by our Pac West coalition with a better awareness that a public option is not the same as single payer.”
“Over all, the discussions were well informed and reflected a recognition that the profession needs to move forward with changes that can accommodate shifting landscapes in health care,” Parry continued. “Of course, I like to think that these changes are the result of the influence of our small but mighty Colorado delegation as well as the passion of the medical students – the ones who will inherit the system – across the country.”
This marked the first official meeting with Colorado as part of Pac West, a coalition that merged Pacific Rim (five states plus Guam; 42 delegates) and Western Mountain States (six states; 24 delegates). The new coalition succeeded in electing New Mexico candidate Barbara L. McAneny, MD, to the position of AMA president-elect. In other election news, Luke Selby, MD, MS, a surgical resident at the University of Colorado, was elected delegate of the Resident and Fellow Section (RFS), and will represent the interests of resident and fellow physicians in the AMA HOD. Sohayla Rostami, a third-year medical student at Rocky Vista University, was elected to the position of Region 1 vice chair to the AMA Medical Student Section (see sidebar below). And Brandi Ring, MD, began her term as chair of the AMA Young Physician Section (see sidebar below).
Ten CMS student members from both Colorado medical schools participated in the meeting under the guidance of medical student advisor Brandi Ring, MD (see related article here).
“I haven’t seen this many Colorado medical students with such a high level of engagement in years – although we clearly had a superlative medical student crew in attendance,” said Tamaan Osbourne-Roberts, MD, CMS alternate delegate to the AMA. “Much credit to Lynn Parry in particular, for helping to create the environment in which such happened.”
Brandi Ring, MD, begins term as chair of AMA Young Physician Section
At the conclusion of the AMA-Young Physician Section Meeting in Chicago on June 13, 2017, Brandi Ring, MD, began her term as chair of the American Medical Association-Young Physician Section (AMA-YPS). Ring has spent the last year as chair-elect preparing to launch her initiatives for change within the AMA-YPS. Her focus will be on leadership, collaboration and managing member transitions within AMA sections.
Her goals are:
- To improve the visibility and development of young leaders within the AMA and to establish training and mentoring sessions that allow for the development of future leaders.
- Increase collaboration between the AMA-YPS and the specialty societies that many members represent to effectively work together to fight the major health care crises in this county.
- Establish and maintain ways to help keep people involved in the AMA as young leaders transition from the medical student and resident sections and as young-career physicians transition between career settings.
Ring is a private-practice OB/GYN in Denver at Mile High OB/GYN Associates.
She has served in leadership roles within the AMA and with her specialty society, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), as well as community health initiatives with the Department of Health in Pennsylvania.
Sohayla Rostami elected Region 1 vice chair
Sohayla Rostami, a third-year medical student at Rocky Vista University, was elected to the position of Region 1 vice chair to the AMA Medical Student Section (MSS). MSS consists of seven regions, each governed by a chair, vice chair and additional leaders elected to accomplishing the goals of the region. Together, the region’s executive board provides the medical students a basis for communication, collaboration and guidance in the policy efforts presented by the MSS.
Region 1 represents the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
As Region 1 vice chair, Rostami’s role is to support the executive board and students in bringing forth health policies pertinent to the region and ultimately the nation, serve as the region chair in case of her absence, and coordinate all region efforts during the annual Medical Student Advocacy and Region Conference (MARC).
MARC, held in Washington, D.C., is an opportunity for students to have direct interface with state representatives to request action on major issues concerning the AMA. Past topics of discussion have included graduate medical education, safety provisions for medical students protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and preserving vital sections of the Affordable Care Act. She will work closely with vice chairs in other regions to coordinate MARC in 2018.