AMA Convention Reports
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, June 11, 2014 12:00 AM

At the AMA annual convention the AMA's PAC president, John Poole, MD, implored audience members to come together as one voice to effect change in congress by joining the political action group -- currently only 47% of the house members are AMPAC members.  

AMA Executive Vice President, James l. Madara, MD, called for one voice among the delegates to support policies proposed by the AMA. "If we can simply shift, even marginally, toward uniformly supporting the majority view, our voice will be so much stronger," he said during the opening speeches.

But speaking with one voice is not easy.  "It's a bit of a challenge," Kim A. Williams, Sr., MD, president-elect of the American College of Cardiology.  Williams, a professor of cardiology and nuclear medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said tension has been generated through concepts of doing what's right for the entire house and optimizing the needs of speciality groups. " We have been damaged significantly by having portions [of the HOD] going and talking to Congress negatively about other areas of care," he said.

For the first time the AMA chose a board certified emergency physician to be its president-elect, and only for the second time will a president come the ranks of its Young Physicians Section (YPS).  Steven J. Stack, MD, an emergency medicine physician in Lexington, Ky., was unapposed in his quest, so the House of Delegates affirmed him by voice vote. Currently 42, he will be the youngest president of the AMA when he takes office a year from now. He has served on the Board of Trustees since 2006, and from 2007-2013, was active in the Health Information Technology Advisory Group.


AMA Says Cheerleading Is a Sport

To many, cheerleading is clearly a sport, but its official designation as such has many implications -- both intended and unintended, all of which were apparent as AMA House of Delegates debated the issue. 

Labeling cheerleading as a sport isn't about the medical profession or even the general public believing that cheerleading is a sport. It is a simply a fact.  Anyone with an ESPN subscription can attest to the marked difference between pom-pom girls, who focus more on dance choreography, and cheerleaders, who focus more on gymnastics and acrobatics.  But designating cheerleading as a sport will loop it under the oversight of high school athletic boards and college athletic associations.

For one thing, if cheerleading is classified as a sport, the coaches will have to undergo safety training and certification -- a clear pro. But, the team will also have to fight for their share of the athletic department's finite and often scarce funding and resources -- a definite con.

So far, courts have ruled that cheerleading cannot be designated as a sport to even the allocation of scholarships between male and female athletes, the reference committee wrote.  The AMA's Board of Trustees recommended equivalent safety standards for cheerleaders, training for coaches, and injury reporting as other designated sports.

But the board, and the reference committee that reviewed the report, stopped short of calling cheerleading a sport. That decision didn't fly with the HOD, especially those physicians representing pediatric, orthopedic, and neurologic specialties -- all of whom backed an amendment that clearly stated cheerleading is a sport. So, armed with this new designation, cheerleaders -- boys and girls -- may now find themselves on a level playing field.


AMA Agrees to Recharge Advocacy

The AMA will bolster their political advocacy efforts, recognize presurgical transgender birth certificates, and support insurance coverage of young pregnant women and newborns.  Those initiatives were approved by the AMA's House of Delegates (HOD).

A resolution proposed by the Florida delegation to boost the AMA's advocacy efforts in Congress received strong support among delegates. Florida asked for independent review of AMA lobbying efforts, but the house opted instead for a board of trustees review with a report back to the house. Supporters included the Pacific Rim caucus, the Texas and New York delegations, and, perhaps most enthusiastically, the AMPAC president, John Poole, MD, who said "If you're in medicine, you're in politics."

A board of trustees report on birth certificate gender assignments for presurgical transgendered individuals, originally brought forth in 2013 by the Resident and Fellow Section, was adopted by majority vote in the HOD. the house concluded that a patient's official gender classification falls under the purview of the physician-patient relationship and not the current standard in many states, which requires proof of surgery to change gender assignment on a person's birth certificate.   delegate from the gay and lesbian caucus said, "[This issue] needs to be taken away from lawmakers and put back into the hands of physicians who treat the patients."

Based on 2013 data, which reported that the average age for a women to have her first child was 25.7, the AMA's HOD voted into action a resolution to expand the Affordable Care Act to cover young, pregnant women who are at risk for losing their parent's insurance when they turn 26.

In addition, the resolution proposed 60 days of insurance to cover all infants born to women under 26 who are dependent on their parent's insurance coverage.