Colorado physicians and students gather in Chicago to participate in health care policy setting

Physicians, medical students and medical society staff from around Colorado traveled to Chicago for the American Medical Association’s annual meeting. The Colorado delegation joined peers and colleagues in shaping the health care agenda of the nation’s largest physician organization. Ten physicians represent the physicians of Colorado, but Colorado’s impact on policy is felt throughout the organization by our representatives to the American College of Emergency Physicians, College of American Pathologists, Section on Medical Schools, Occupational Medicine, Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, Obesity Medicine Association, American College of Cardiology, and the Resident-Fellow Section as well as by two regional representatives from the Medical School Section who attend and vote in the House with the Colorado delegation.

Setting and revising policy

The AMA’s House of Delegates (HOD) is the policy-making forum at the center of American medicine, bringing together an inclusive group of physicians, residents and medical students representing every state and medical field.

Delegates work in a democratic process to create a national physician consensus in response to emerging health care issues in the United States. The resulting policies will guide the AMA as it represents the physician voice in efforts to advance patient care and improve the nation's health care system.

The House of Delegates tackled contentious issues at the meeting: The Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) Report 5 recommended that the AMA leave intact its policy opposing physician-assisted suicide. I testified on behalf of Colorado and PacWest, requesting the report not be adopted. The PacWest contains six states that have legal medical aid-in-dying. The HOD did not accept the report as written and the issue was returned to CEJA.

A resolution from the medical students asked the AMA to alter its policy on single payer health care, which currently opposes consideration of this model in discussions of health system reform. Colorado and PacWest supported the AMA being able to discuss all options with stakeholders. The resolution was referred.

The HOD adopted amended language of Council on Medical Education Report 6 that recommends state licensure boards require disclosure only of an applicant’s current conditions that are not being treated appropriately and would adversely affect the applicant’s ability to practice medicine in a competent, ethical and professional manner.

The HOD also passed a resolution directing the AMA to work with state and specialty societies to identify states in which physicians are restricted from providing the current standard of care with regards to obesity treatment and to remove out-of-date restrictions at the state and federal level prohibiting healthcare providers from providing the current standard of care to patients affected by obesity.

The HOD also took an active position on firearm safety, adopting policy to support a ban of high-capacity weapons, require gun registration and education, and to support “red flag” requirements. The Colorado delegation is considering bringing the AMA policy to Central Line.

Medical student updates

For the first time, three Colorado student leaders are serving on the AMA-Medical Student Section Region 1 executive board, demonstrating tremendous strength from the state on a national level. Halea Meese is the region chair, Adam Panzer is the policy chair and Krista Allen is the advocacy chair; these are some of the most vital positions on the executive board. Sohayla Rostami, MD, served in her final meeting as vice-chair of the medical student region and has been a mentor to all Colorado medical students. We thank her for her service, kindness and wisdom. In all, 12 Colorado medical students attended the annual meeting, including eight for the first time.

The AMA reinstated their medical student reception at the Annual Meeting on Friday night. Since this has traditionally been our evening to host the Colorado medical student reception, fellow delegates David Downs, MD, Debra Parsons, MD, and Tamaan Osborne-Roberts, MD, joined me in hosting a dinner for the Colorado medical students at Vermillion, where we celebrated their hard work with Latin-Indian cuisine.

“We had many fantastic discussions on important issues that affect the public, such as the gender pay gap and banning the sale of assault style rifles and bump stocks,” Meese said. “We also discussed issues that have particular relevance to physicians and our state, such as ensuring that medical licensure questions focus on current rather than any previous mental health impairment so as not to discourage physicians from seeking the resources they need.”

“I'm very excited to be serving on the board for our region with my fellow Coloradans, Krista and Adam, who are also wonderful friends and mentors to the younger students,” Meese continued. “After my third meeting, our AMA feels like more of a family every year and I can't wait for our next meeting this November in Maryland!”

Other leadership updates

Colorado, part of the PacWest Conference of the AMA, helped host the PacWest wine reception to raise support for PacWest candidates running for office. Colorado delegates were pleased to bring the tastes of Colorado to Chicago, serving wine donated by Two Rivers Winery in Grand Junction. PacWest and Colorado continue to have great influence on the national level.

To spread the influence of the Colorado delegation in the specialty arena, Kay Lozano, MD, FACR, ran for and was elected to the AMA Radiology Section Council Governing Council, and will serve as member-at-large. Jeremy Lazarus, MD, former president of AMA and CMS, was appointed to the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs. Carolynn Francavilla spoke as a panelist at the C Clayton Griffin Memorial Young Physician Section Assembly Luncheon.

Several members of the Colorado delegation also reconnected with Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, who currently serves as the 20th surgeon general of the United States. He was a special guest at the meeting and gave a speech encouraging AMA members to lead the nation in a civil discussion on the pressing issues of our day, such as gun violence, substance-use disorder and health equity. Adams has worked with several of the Colorado physicians in the AMA Young Physicians Section in the past.

Barbara L. McAneny, MD, an oncologist from Albuquerque, N.M. and member of the PacWest conference, was sworn in as the AMA’s 173rd president. In her address she shared her view of the health care landscape and told attendees that physicians are perfectly positioned to navigate the challenges and shape medicine to benefit patients. Patrice A. Harris, MD, a psychiatrist from Atlanta, was elected AMA president-elect. When she assumes the post of AMA president in June 2019, she will be the AMA’s first African-American female to hold that office.

Categories: Communications, Colorado Medicine, Resources, Initiatives, AMA