president of AMA, urged the nation’s physician and medical leaders to champion the causes of their patients and themselves at the organization’s annual meeting that is currently underway in Chicago.
“For our colleagues out there who had not yet realized the importance of advocacy, I hope 2017 has been their wake-up call .... When the values inherent in [AMA’s] principles are threatened, when the health of our patients is jeopardized because of politics, then we must step up,” Gurman told delegates. “Each of us has a crucial role to play in creating a health care system that better delivers for our patients.
“The role of the AMA is to always stand on principle and to hold firm against criticism or backlash. It is standing up for what we believe is right, for the values that have defined the AMA’s work since our humble beginnings,” he said.
Gurman pointed out some accomplishments AMA has had a role in over the past year to illustrate how physicians have worked in the interest of patients:
•acting as a voice for patients as lawmakers advanced the American Health Care Act;
•calling out the manufacturer of EpiPen (epinephrine auto-injector, Mylan) and other pharmaceutical industry leaders for high drug prices;
•blocking the mergers of Aetna and Humana and, separately, Anthem and Cigna insurance companies; and
•voting to expand AMA’s policy on gun safety to support waiting periods and background checks on all firearm purchases in the wake of the Orlando, Florida, nightclub shooting.
“The challenges we face today in medicine are complex and getting more so all the time. The threats to our patients are constantly evolving. We will never lose sight of who we speak for and none of us here today can ever forget who we represent,” Gurman said. We pick our battles because of what you tell us and because of what we know from experience.”
He also referenced current AMA efforts to reassess the prior authorization process for medical devices, drugs, procedures and tests; help prepare physicians for the new Medicare Quality Payment Program; and reduce physicians’ administrative burden.
“It’s our responsibility to light a path toward a future in medicine that protects people from every community and every demographic and empowers them to live longer and healthier. It is our duty to shed light on the challenges that physicians face, and to seek changes to protect the profession,” Gurman said. “Let us shine a light so that others may find their voice and take this journey with us. We are the light that medicine needs that our profession needs and that our patients need.” – by Janel Miller
Gurman is president of AMA.