ASH Report from the AMA House of Delegates
A Report from the AMA House of Delegates
Twice a year, representatives from the breadth of medicine gather to set the policy for the American Medical Association (AMA). The 2015 Interim meeting of the AMA House of Delegates took place in Atlanta, concluding on November 17, 2015. ASH has a single appointed representative, Dr. Gamini Soori of Nebraska who serves on this body. Dr. Chancellor Donald of Louisiana serves as his alternate, voting when Dr. Soori is not available Although ASH has only one official seat, other ASH members serve as representatives of other specialty societies or state medical societies. Representatives are given the opportunity to testify and vote on each policy considered by the AMA.
The ability to influence policy at AMA allows for both a broader exposure for issues that are important to ASH as well as provide input on those issues which ASH does not prioritize. For example, one of the hottest topics at this year’s meeting was on the cost of prescription drugs. ASH members were early in noticing the trend in rapidly increasing costs in prescription drugs and has worked with other specialties and interest groups to develop solutions to ensure that patients are not faced with enormous costs, particularly for oral drugs. As this issue begins to affect more patients with more common diseases, much of organized medicine has begun to pay attention. Recognizing the complexity of the issues, the House of Delegates directed AMA to host a forum of interested parties to plan action, ensuring a voice for physicians.
The AMA House of Delegates also extensively discussed the issue of Maintenance of Certification (MOC), another area in which ASH has been a leader. As part of the meeting, ASH shared their recent recommendations to the American Board of Internal Medicine regarding improvements to the MOC process.
On issues such as health information technology or mandatory vaccines, hematologists are able to offer the perspective of physicians dealing with blood disease to help ensure that advocacy plans do not disadvantage their patients.
ASH is fortunate to be able to work with the AMA throughout the year on issues that affect physicians and to continue to influence discussion through the role at the AMA House of Delegates. By working with the AMA on issues that affect all practicing physicians, ASH is able to focus staff and member resources on issues that affect hematologists and those afflicted with hematologic disease.
AMA also has a powerful role as the convener of the panel that create the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes used for all healthcare transactions involving physicians as well as the Resource-Based Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC), which recommends relative values for those services that help to determine pricing. ASH has official representation at both of these groups by virtue of the presence at the American Medical Association House of Delegates.
ASH membership in the House of Delegates is dependent on having a certain number of ASH members also be members of the AMA and members are asked to take this into account when considering the value of AMA membership.