Dr. Richard Pelman Represents AACU at 2017 AMA House of Delegates Meeting
From June 10 to June 14, Richard Pelman, MD, represented the AACU at the 2017 American Medical Association House of Delegates Meeting in Chicago, where hundreds of physicians, medical students, residents, and fellows gathered to discuss and address a wide range of healthcare issues, including the opioid crisis, physician burnout, regulating physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses, and of course, healthcare reform and drug pricing. Dr. Pelman helped lead the Urology Caucus, where a number of prominent urologists discussed key issues for this year's meeting. Here are some of the meeting highlights:
- Maintenance of Certification: Perhaps one of the most prominent issues discussed this year was maintenance of certification for physicians. To that end, delegates voted to assure that "lifelong learning" is best achieved by ongoing participation in a high-quality, specialty-specific CME programs. What's more, the AMA reaffirmed its commitment to helping states develop legislation that prohibit hospitals, insurers, and medical boards from using MOC as a requirement for a physician's credentialing, privileging, or licensing. Due to concern over the complexity of MOC and uncertainty regarding professional self-regulation, the AMA agreed to study the use of specialty society-approved CME for credentialing, as opposed to the high stakes exams administered by the ABMS.
- Providing Care to Veterans: In pledging their continued commitment to improving access to care for US veterans, delegates voted to continue working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide quality care to veterans and advocate new funding for the Veterans Choice Program.
- Infertility as a Disease: Urologists were delighted to join with other specialty groups, including the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, to introduce a resolution asking the AMA to recognize infertility as a disease and to advocate for greater access to established fertility treatments inclusive of broader insurance coverage. The delegates voted to support the World Health Organization's designation of infertility as a disease and to reaffirm an existing AMA policy that urges minimization of benefit mandates.
- Urology Match Program: Another important policy debate centered on a report recommending that the AMA "support and encourage" urology and ophthalmology to move their resident match programs to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). More specifically, the report asked the AMA to: (1) support the movement toward a unified and standardized residency application and match system for all non-military residencies; (2) encourage appropriate stakeholders, including the AUA, to move ophthalmology and urology to the NRMP; and (3) encourage the NRMP to develop a process for sequential matching for specialties that require a preliminary year of training. Both urology and ophthalmology have had their own match programs for many years, in large part because both specialties require a preliminary year of training. Dr. Pelman worked with the Urology Caucus and Surgical Caucus to develop a strategy to oppose the report, and multiple urologists gave passionate testimony regarding the benefits of the Urology match program. After much debate, delegates ultimately voted to adopt only the first recommendation and instead directed the AMA to further examine and study the remaining two.
- Regulation of Physician Assistants: Delegates also voted to adopt a resolution directing the AMA to support advocacy efforts to maintain the regulation of physicians, physician assistants and related medical personnel by medical licensing and regulatory boards and to oppose legislative efforts to establish autonomous regulatory boards for physician assistants. This recommendation came in the wake of a new policy adopted by the American Academy of PAs this year that calls for the establishment of autonomous state boards to regulate PAs.