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Advocacy and Policy Central: Take Action!

With nearly 48,000 members, the AMA-MSS provides student members with a powerful, unified voice on issues of importance to medical students. With a focus on student-issues and the U.S. medical education system, the MSS provides students an avenue to voice concerns, analyze issues, and advocate for change.

Graduate Medical Education Advocacy

The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 capped the number of resident physicians each teaching hospital could claim for reimbursement under Medicare. Since Medicare does not reimburse teaching hospitals for training residents beyond the capped number of GME slots, core GME training programs have experienced minimum growth.

Currently Workforce experts predict that the U.S. will face a shortage of 62,900 physicians in 2015 that will increase to 130,000 across all specialties by 2025. In order to ensure an adequate number of physicians are available to meet the future needs of the U.S. population, the cap on GME slots must be lifted and adequate GME funding is necessary.

  • Save GME - Visit the AMA's Save GME campaign website to let your Congressional leaders know the importance of GME to the future of US healthcare. Visitors can contact their leaders, access resources, check out the AMA's ongoing efforts in Congress, and much more!
  • MSS GME Congressional Issue Brief- This handout details the reasons that adequate GME funding must be protected and the cap on residency positions must be lifted. It was created for and circulated to Congressional leaders during the 2013 MSS Advocacy Day.
  • Top Ten Reasons to Protect GME - This document details the essential role that residents play in providing healthcare in the U.S.
  • GME: A Healthy America Needs Resident Physicians - The MSS Committee on Legislation and Advocacy presented on the importance of resident physicians and the need for adequate funding for GME training.
  • AMA Letter of Support for H.R. 1180 - The AMA issued this letter of support for H.R. 1180, "Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2013." The legislation, introduced by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), would expand the number of Medicare supported GME positions by 15 percent (approximately 15,000 additional GME positions) over five years.
  • AMA Letter of Support for S. 577 - The AMA issued this letter of support for S. 577, "Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2013." The legislation, introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), would expand the number of Medicare supported GME positions by 15 percent (approximately 15,000 additional GME positions) over five years.

Medical Student Debt Advocacy

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Center for Workforce Studies estimates that in 2015, the United States will face a physician shortage of 62,900 that will increase to 130,000 across all specialties by 2025. An acute physician shortage will have a profound impact on health care access, quality and costs, especially for Americans who are already underserved. With an average medical student debt for indebted 2013 graduates of $169,901, debt impacts the supply of our nation's physicians and plays a role in career decisions.

Tools for Any Issue: Informational Resources

  • How to Make your Voice Heard in Congress - This brief video presentation discusses the do's and don'ts of interacting with your elected officials. Check out the webinar and handout.
  • How to turn a Five Minute Meeting into a Lifetime Relationship - In this video presentation from the AMA's National Advocacy Conference, Brad Fitch, President and CEO of Congressional Management Foundation, presented on how to be an effective citizen advocate.
  • Petitions - Starting a petition on an issue is a great way of getting large numbers of people to sign onto a cause. When trying to enact change, strength is often in numbers, so circulating a petition is a great way to get started. Check out the free website iPetitions for an easy way to start a petition on any issue.
  • Tips for Communicating with Capitol Hill : The AMA legislative Action center provides some useful tips and templates for communicating with Congressional leaders via phone, letter, or email.
  • Find your elected officials - The AMA Legislative Action Center elected officials directory tool allows AMA members to locate and contact their elected federal officials.

Other AMA Advocacy

The following resources detail some of the ways in which the AMA is engaged in advocacy on behalf of its student and physician members. For a more extensive list, please visit the AMA Advocacy Page.

Government Relations Advocacy Update

November 22:

Friends,

What a great Interim meeting! I think all around we were able to accomplish our goals, and the AMA has some great policy to work off of going forward. I take a point of personal pride in letting you know that we have now distributed about 15,000 Save GME Stethoscope Bands. In fact, Rep. Tom Price opened his keynote speech by showing off his stethoscope band, and several physicians in the AMA leadership requested thousands of these to distribute in their own communities! These are catching fire! Keep distributing them around your offices, programs, and schools, and the world will see that we stand united to Save GME. Send me an email if you need more, we have yet another shipment coming in soon!

Now, it’s time to report on the SGR. I know I’ve been neglecting it, but it’s such a hot, shifty topic that I wanted to wait until after the Interim meeting to get to it. Several weeks ago, the Senate Finance Committee released a summary of a draft for SGR repeal. It is important to note that this language is not anywhere close to final. The major point of contention is that the language does not include positive updates for 10 years, or what some would call a ‘10-year pay freeze’. The AMA has advocated, and continues to advocate for POSITIVE updates during this time period. This was debated at the House of Delegates at the Interim meeting, and in the end it was resolved to go ahead and continue to urge Congress to repeal the SGR. Obviously the bill is not perfect, but I think the overwhelming sentiment at the meeting was that we really need to finally kill the SGR.

Then there’s the issue of actually putting it to death. We only have a small handful of Congressional work days left this year, and of course we are going to run back into the debt ceiling early next year. Then, we hit this no-mans-land of the 2014 election cycle, and you can probably expect nothing to get done then. The point is, this needs to happen NOW. To take action, go to http://fixmedicarenow.org/physician-action/ to send a letter to Congress.

In other D.C. news, the Senate has gone nuclear. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid enacted the ‘Nuclear Option’ by a slim 52-48 vote. This is a complicated parliamentary tactic that allows the Senate to set a new precedent by a simple majority of 51 senators, rather than the typical 67 votes that are needed to change the rules by regular order. That means any majority can fundamentally weaken the filibuster without consensus of the minority party, effectively weakening its ability to block, delay or shape legislation. For the time being, this only applies to executive and judicial branch nominees (excepting Supreme Court nominees), but both parties recognize that this precedent will likely be used to grab power by future majorities.

Here’s What’s Happening! 

SGR Repeal Still Gets AMA Support

KABOOM! Senate goes for ‘nuclear option’

Report: Obamacare helps slow growth in health care costs

Obstructionism vs. ACA

HHS to delay 2015 Obamacare enrollment by a month

Insurers restricting choice of doctors and hospitals to keep costs down

Kathleen Sebelius watches Obamacare website crash

California won't extend health plans

Older Hill aides shocked by Obamacare prices

Save GME:

Something has to be done.

I enjoyed seeing all of you at Interim, and I continue to be inspired by your dedication to the future of medicine.

Until next time,

-Your humble GRAF-

Disclaimer - Many of these links will take you off of the AMA website and are provided for informational purposes only. Although the linked websites have been evaluated and reviewed, the AMA does not assume responsibility for the content of other websites.