AMA adopts policies to protect health care access



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Key takeaways:

  • The AMA House of Delegates adopted policies advocating for better access to health care.
  • The policies specifically address affordable prescriptions, IVF, medical-legal partnerships and patient data.

The AMA adopted policies to protect patients’ access to necessary health care in a variety of ways at its annual meeting.

The organization’s House of Delegates endorsed policies regarding affordable prescriptions, medical-legal partnerships, support for in vitro fertilization and ethical patient data use, according to a press release.





The AMA adopted policies to protect patients’ access to necessary health care in a variety of ways at its annual meeting. Image: Adobe Stock

Prescriptions

One policy aims to address the “expensive surprise that awaits” patients with Medicare Advantage who need physician-administered biologics or drugs by advocating for a federal policy limiting a patient’s out-of-pocket costs in these cases.

The new cost would be the same or less than what those with traditional Medicare and a Medigap plan would owe.

The policy’s supporters said the current system is stacked against patients who are under-resourced and learn that their plans “have exorbitant copays that accompany biologics and physician-administered drugs, which are commonly used to treat chronic diseases.”

“When signing up for Medicare Advantage, patients don’t know which expensive drugs they might require and then find out that the drugs aren’t covered or require a 20% copayment,” Ilse R. Levin, DO, MPH & TM, a member of the AMA Board of Trustees, said in the release. “That guarantees a disparity in outcomes that this policy aims to address. This change takes aim at a practice that exacerbates inequity in health care. Our patients deserve better.”

Medical-legal partnerships

Medical-legal partnerships coalesce lawyers’ skills in health care settings to help physicians, social workers and case managers tackle the social problems “at the root of many health inequities,” the release said.

Research has indicated that when these services are used, patients are less frequently admitted to the hospital, report lower stress levels and are more likely to adhere to medications.

The AMA is supporting the creation and financing of civil legal aid services and medical-legal partnerships to meet the legal needs of patients.

IVF

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos are human beings. After the decision, clinics stopped IVF services out of concern that offering fertility treatment would lead to civil or even criminal liability, according to the AMA. The legislature then passed a bill, which the governor signed into law, providing immunity to patients and providers for damage to or destruction of embryos.

The AMA is opposing ballot measures or legislation that could criminalize IVF.

Bobby Mukkamala, MD, AMA president-elect, said “physicians and families dodged a bullet,” but “we must now be vigilant against politicians and judges who want to supplant their judgment for medical judgment.”

Patient data

The House of Delegates adopted ethical guidance to help physicians handle deidentified patient data in today’s digital health ecosystem.

Established systems that protect patient privacy like deidentification and informed consent are challenged by “the dynamic nature of today’s digital health information ecosystems,” according to the release.

The responsibility to protect patient privacy that the medical profession bears “should be recognized as inherently tied to these data sets, meaning all entities granted access to the data become data stewards with a duty to uphold the ethical values of health care in which the data were produced,” David H. Aizuss, MD, an AMA board member, said.

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