10 key issues where you can help move medicine in 2018

David O. Barbe, MD, MHA
Immediate Past President
American Medical Association
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Our voices, as physicians advocating for our patients, collectively make a huge difference with lawmakers in Washington and around the country. If you have a scintilla of doubt about that, a glance at the fierce debates in 2017 on overhauling the nation’s health system should resolve the question in your mind.

And 2018 is off to a similarly resounding start in reaffirming the power of physician grassroots advocacy. Earlier this month, Congress moved forward with a two-year misvalued code policy that would have rolled Medicare payments back to 2015 levels and impeded seniors’ access to care. An AMA Action Alert from the Physicians Grassroots Network on the issue generated more than 3,000 emails to Congress in less than 24 hours, and the misguided notion was kicked to the curb in favor of a budget deal that included a number of key improvements advocated by the AMA.

Yet the most effective physician advocacy is proactive. This week at the AMA National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C., the sessions, trainings and presentations from experts and influential policymakers have reinforced in my mind the need for physicians to vigorously push for changes that put patients first. I know that is what the hundreds of doctors attending the conference want, and their energy is infectious.

That is why the AMA has unveiled an ambitious agenda for 2018 to:

  • Protect and expand access to coverage to help patients live longer and with a higher quality of life.
  • Reform Medicare physician payment systems to provide better support for coordinated, high-value care.
  • Modernize state laws regarding the adoption of telemedicine and ensure physicians are paid for this kind of care delivery.
  • Encourage transparency in pharmaceutical pricing through our TruthinRx campaign.
  • Address short-sighted insurer policies that undercut physicians’ ability to practice medicine and create waste in the system.
  • End the opioid epidemic by eliminating prior authorization for medication-assisted treatment,  working with payers to remove barriers to multidisciplinary pain care, and more.
  • Target the inefficient, opaque prior-authorization policies that cost physician practices time and money, delay treatments and may harm patient outcomes.
  • Eliminate and streamline the many federal regulations that contribute to doctors’ spending two hours on administrative tasks for every hour they spend with patients.
  • Reduce practice burdens and work to improve joy in medicine.
  • Protect patient well-being that is threatened when health care practitioners are allowed to practice beyond their education, training or experience.

We know why these 10 issues matter for us and for patients, but getting that message to the people who can help make the right policy changes poses a challenge. To address that, the AMA is giving you timely advice on how to effectively reach lawmakers and take advantage of our grassroots tools. Articles in the coming weeks will also help you make the greatest impact in Congressional office visits and get heard at the state and local levels.

Learn more about the AMA’s top advocacy issues for the year and how your membership helps move medicine.

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Why are there only 9 text bullet points? Where is the 10th issue?
It seems that supporting legislation such as Medicare-for-All would address many of these bullet points (1, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9 at the very least). If these issues are important to the AMA, why do they not openly support current Medicare-for-All bills such as HR 676 in the house or SB 1804? I am an advocate for these pieces of legislation and I think the AMA and its other members should be, as well.
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Oct 08, 2018
Find out why the AMA is committed to health care reform that expands insurance coverage and provides more access to high-quality care.