Physicians should take more control over a changing healthcare and social landscape. That was the central theme at this year's annual meeting of the American Medical Association's House of Delegates as the governing body took positions on everything from drug prices and mental healthcare, to gun violence and LGBTQ inclusion in the medical field. While these resolutions historically fail to directly influence major policy changes, they do reflect how some in the nation's physician community view their role in addressing healthcare-related matters.
Here are 10 highlights from this year's meeting:
1) A stronger stance against gun violence: The AMA came out with its most aggressive position yet, adopting nearly a dozen policy changes that include supporting a ban on assault weapons, registration of all firearms, laws that would keep guns out of the hands of those convicted of domestic violence, and raising the legal age to buy guns to 21. The measures received overwhelming support, including a 446-99 vote in favor of the assault weapons ban.
2) Changing attitudes on physician-assisted suicide: Delegates voted to review the AMA's stance opposing physician-assisted suicide, with 56% of members voting against adopting a recommendation that the organization should maintain its position that "physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer."
3) Medicine and #MeToo: Recent sex scandals involving doctors prompted a resolution that would require all state medical boards to "report criminal sexual conduct or predatory sexual behavior to appropriate law enforcement authorities." However, despite much support for action, the final adopted measure was watered down by removing the reporting requirement and instead called for the AMA to work with the Federation of State Medical Boards to identify "a comprehensive approach and addressing sexual crimes within medicine."
4) Addressing the opioid epidemic: Delegates approved a resolution to include naloxone in all airline medical kits. They also adopted a call to expand use of medication-assisted treatments such as buprenorphine and methadone, along with ending prior authorization requirements by health insurers.
5) Greater acceptance of LGBTQ patients and providers: The governing body of the country's largest physicians group voiced support for appropriate treatment and placement of transgender prisoners based on their affirmed gender and advocated for federal medical leave for LGBTQ parents and caregivers.
6) No separation of immigrant children from their families: Delegates voted to oppose separating children from their parents if they illegally cross the border into the U.S.
7) Embracing AI: For the first time, the AMA officially addressed the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare, calling it "augmented intelligence." Among the resolutions adopted was a call for stakeholders to include the perspective of physicians in developing and implementing such technologies.
8) Promoting diversity: The AMA celebrated the first time the association's president and president-elect were both female, and delegates called on the federal government to clear a backlog of foreign-born physicians with temporary H-1B visas waiting to receive permanent-resident status.
9) Opposing Medicaid "lock-outs": The AMA opposes states changing their Medicaid programs to temporarily ban beneficiaries if they fail to comply with administrative requirements, such as work rules and timely premium payments. Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky and New Hampshire have received federal waivers allowing them to impose work requirements. Six other states await approvals.
10) Bridging the health equity gap: The group adopted a measure that would create a way for the AMA to track its activities to promote health equity. It also asked for the AMA's board of trustees to report on those activities and the level of achievement every year.