by Danielle Davis and Alysa Edwards, University of Colorado School of Medicine

The Medical Student Advocacy and Region Conference (MARC) took place in Washington, D.C., from March 7-9 with medical students from 44 different states in attendance. During the conference, students learned about three pressing political issues and how the American Medical Association is working to address them. The first day, students met with Colorado congressional representatives to ask for their support in addressing these issues, gaining experience in lobbying and the legislative process.

Policies discussed:

Pharmaceutical drug prices

Between 2013 and 2015 the net spending on prescription drugs increased by 20 percent. In 2017, more than 300 generic drugs had at least one price increase of 100 percent or more. Physicians see firsthand the burdens placed on patients by the rising costs of prescription medications. Many patients delay, forgo or ration their medications at the expense of their own health.

The AMA strongly supports legislation that addresses the anticompetitive practices of pharmaceutical companies. Therefore they are in strong support of the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act of 2019 (S. 340/ H.R. 965). This act would allow generic drug manufacturers facing anticompetitive delay tactics – such as failing to provide sufficient quantities of branded product samples for premarket testing – to bring an action in federal court for injunctive relief.

Gun violence

With over 38,000 Americans injured or killed by firearms in 2016¹, gun violence is considered a public health crisis. To help address this issue, the AMA supports the Bipartisan Background Check Act (H.R. 8), which would require a background check on every gun sale or transfer (with exceptions). This would expand current policy to include unlicensed sellers. Additionally, the AMA supports funding the CDC to conduct epidemiologic research on gun violence to better inform future policy.

Graduate Medical Education

GME (residency training) positions, largely funded by Medicare, were capped in 1997. Since then, a mismatch in the number of medical school graduates and residency positions has developed, adding to the physician shortage crisis around the country. The AMA therefore supports the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act (S.348), which would expand GME positions by 15,000 over five years, particularly aiding states with new medical schools, current programs’ training overcapacity, and training in community-based/outpatient departments. The Community and Public Health Programs Extension Act (S.192) would provide funding to critical health programs offering affordable access to preventative services for underserved patients while providing scholarships for residents.

Conference highlights:

  • Advocacy workshop
  • Teachings on effective lobbying techniques
  • Capitol Hill visits

What’s next?

AMA Annual Meeting in Chicago, June 6-8 | Stay tuned for more info!

Categories: Communications, Colorado Medicine, Resources, Initiatives, Advocacy, Students