The American Medical Association declared itself the "national champion" of universal access to healthcare at its House of Delegates winter meeting in Honolulu last week.
The highest priority of the AMA is to "make sure that every patient in every community in America has access to care and a way to pay for it," AMA President Nancy Dickey, M.D., said.
The move by the nation's largest physician group comes three years after the American Hospital Association's board voted to make access to care a national priority. That December 1995 vote led to the AHA's Campaign for Coverage under which hospitals are encouraged to get indigent patients enrolled in Medicaid or other health insurance programs.
Also, the AMA joined with five medical specialty societies to alert the healthcare community that too few eligible patients receive prescriptions for beta-blockers despite substantial evidence that they increase the chance of survival following heart attacks.
The action constituted the AMA's first Quality Care Alert, an initiative with medical specialty societies to identify important clinical research and communicate it directly to physicians. The first Quality Care Alert was mailed recently to 170,000 physicians nationwide, the AMA said.