I'm Not a Doctor: Physician Affairs Blog - Sunny outside, but clouds inside AMA meeting

How would you spend a beautiful sunny Sunday in Chicago?

Except for a 90-minute lunch break, physicians with the American Medical Association House of Delegates kept themselves inside windowless hotel meeting rooms from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and some of them appeared to be enjoying it. That's even if the Beers Criteria they discussed were related to punitive insurance policies and had nothing at all to do with cold beverages served in frosty mugs.

After a quick meeting of the entire House, delegates dispersed to four committees in the morning and four others in the afternoon. A scorecard of sorts was projected on the walls inside each meeting room, showing which agenda item was being discussed in each committee.

In the morning, I stuck mostly with the panel on medical practice, though I left at the end to catch the discussion on AMA finance and governance. In the afternoon, it was three hours and 19 minutes of medical services discussion (not that I was watching the clock).

I'm told that what I missed discussed elsewhere included a long debate on bioengineered food, another round of calling for reversal of policies supporting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (I had already seen that movie), and what might be the beginnings of a big fight on the CMS rule changing Medicare's conditions of participation for hospitals.

What I did catch was a discussion combining caution and enthusiasm on the physician-led team-based care provided by medical homes (including medical homes specifically for pregnancies), the effects of computers in exam rooms, the need for an "AMA truth squad," and the myriad of issues related to medical interpretation services. For example, I learned that "translators" write while "interpreters" speak and that sometimes a doctor's cost for interpreter service during a visit exceeds what they are paid for the visit itself.

What was most interesting, however, was the growing defense of private practice from both young and old physicians.

One doctor from New York told of how she's been in private practice for 28 years and was told 10 years ago that she was a dinosaur. Dr. Greg Emmert of Ohio said there was a need to expose young doctors to private practice before it "becomes something in a museum."

And though I didn't move around much, I somehow managed to hear Dr. Maya Babu, a Minnesota neurosurgeon in training and a delegate with the resident and fellow section, twice tell the story of how she was told by a grand rounds speaker that private practice "doesn't exist anymore."

Delegates voiced strong support for resolutions calling for protecting and supporting "the continued existence of solo and small group medical practice" and for one calling for transparency in recruiting and marketing techniques for young physicians that included a directive to "assist physicians in training in career decision-making that provides them the full range of information concerning various practice models, including private practice."

Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks.



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