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AMA President Kicks Off AMA Meeting Focused on Health Reform

AMA President Says Now is a 'Defining Moment' in History for the AMA

For immediate release
Nov. 7, 2009

HOUSTON - Calling this a "defining moment" for the American Medical Association (AMA), the AMA President J. James Rohack, MD, today addressed medical students and fellow physicians from all state and medical specialty societies at the opening of the AMA's semi-annual policy-making meeting, where health system reform will top the agenda.

"Over the next 72 hours, this AMA House of Delegates will debate issues on health reform that will impact our nation — and our profession — for years to come," said Dr. Rohack. "We've done more than any single organization to advance medical education, public health and the position of trust and respect physicians hold in our society."

The AMA's House of Delegates meeting brings together the nation's broadest, most inclusive representation of physicians and medical students. Delegates representing every state and specialty debate and vote on behalf of their peers. "Our history, heritage, bylaws and ethics directs the AMA to represent the physician community in as broad a way possible," said Dr. Rohack.

Dr. Rohack outlined seven critical elements that the AMA sees as essential to achieving meaningful health system reform: cover all Americans; expand choice and eliminate denials based on "pre-existing" conditions; protect the patient-physician relationship; promote quality, prevention and wellness; repeal the Medicare physician payment formula; reduce defensive medicine and streamline administrative processes. 

"There's been much to like in some of the legislative proposals — and by being involved early in the process, the AMA has been able to influence it," said Dr. Rohack. "Just as the treatment of disease is a process, so too is the path of reform."

Dr. Rohack concluded the opening address by calling on his colleagues to embrace this defining moment for the AMA, "When this House of Delegates leaves for home on Tuesday, let it be noted that we met to do the right thing for our patients and our medical profession — by putting patients first. When the next history of the AMA is written, let it say that when we came to our crossroads, we chose the road best taken — and lived up to our sacred obligation. This is the moment. This history is in your hands."

Read Dr. Rohack's full address.

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