Mindful of the organization's reputation for defending the status quo, the 158th annual meeting of the American Medical Association House of Delegates began with a call to shape reform rather than stop it.
"We have sometimes drawn lines in the sand that have left our AMA blamed for blocking reforms," said outgoing AMA President Nancy Nielsen. "It's time for physicians to take charge, to lead, to work with each other, to use technology and goodwill and the professionalism that drives us to solve the problems of our healthcare system."
Noting the recent 65th anniversary of the Allied forces' invasion at Normandy, Nielsen proclaimed that "This is our profession's D-Day." She also discussed Washington's new focus on practice variation that has resulted in Medicare spending $7,500 on beneficiaries in El Paso, Texas, but around $15,000 per beneficiary in McAllen, Texas.
"We need to address variations ourselves or others will do it, using blunt instruments like cutting our fees," Nielsen said. She mentioned a project the AMA is working on with the Colorado Medical Society and UnitedHealth Group that will examine conditions with high cost and high-variation treatments with the goal of "improving quality and value" and with participating physicians getting a share of any saving that might result.