AMA Policies Adopted
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 12:00 AM

At the AMA 2014 Annual Meeting delegate approved two new policies.  One would support telemedicine provided it is covered by medical liability insurance.  The other strongly objects allowing new physicians who have not be "matched" to a residency program to practice as an assistant to another physician.  Their concern was that it would "counter the efforts being made to curtail the expansion of the scope of practice of non physicians."

Telemedicine as a new service (if it pays)

Appropriately used telemedicine can greatly improve access to care without compromising patient safety, according to the American Medical Association (AMA).  Delegates approved the guiding principles listed in a report on telemedicine presented at the AMA 2014 Annual Meeting. The House of Delegates voiced support for additional Medicare pilot programs to enable coverage of telemedicine services.  The policy encourages physicians, before they deliver any telemedicine services, to verify that their medical liability insurance covers such services, including those provided across state lines.

The AMA will work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other payers to develop and test payment models, and will evaluate the effect of various telemedicine technologies on cost, quality, and the patient–physician relationship.

NO to "Assistant Physicians"

Physicians strongly opposed granting "unmatched" graduates a special licensing pathway that would allow them to practice in primary care in a medically underserved area under a collaborative practice agreement with a physician.

A bill pending in Missouri's state legislature would establish "assistant physician" licensure. Under this initiative, students who graduate with an MD or DO but who are not matched to a residency program — about 500 graduates a year — could practice.

Physicians overwhelmingly agreed that allowing such a designation would undermine the practice of medicine and weaken the public trust.  "Letting unlicensed physicians get a license to practice just because we need more physicians in the workforce is not the way to go."  Others spoke about the danger of a 2-tiered system of licensure, which could confuse the public and counter the efforts being made to curtail the expansion of the scope of practice of nonphysicians.

Granting an assistant physician license sends the message that primary care doesn't require residency training, which is wrong,  Although physicians recognize the plight of students who aren't chosen for residency programs, by letting them practice under this proposal, "we are replacing a hardship with a danger."