AMA Wire

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Special Feature

AMA advocates for physicians' interests state by state

AMA advocates for physicians' interests state by state

From medical liability rules to reforms to the health care system, state legislation exerts a tremendous influence over physicians' daily practice of medicine. The AMA stands strong in shaping state laws in a way that supports physicians and protects their patients.

Through its Advocacy Resource Center (ARC), the AMA collaborates with state, specialty and national medical associations to advocate for physicians on a wide range of important issues in all 50 states. Those issues include:

  • State implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Medicaid reform.
  • Fair and transparent private-payer practices.
  • Medical liability reform.
  • Scope of practice.
  • Public health improvement.
  • Truth in advertising by all health care providers.
  • Combating prescription drug abuse, misuse and diversion.

ARC attorneys provide medical societies, lawmakers and policymakers targeted support by helping draft legislation, crafting model legislation, testifying before legislative and regulatory committees, and meeting with legislators and regulators on these priority issues. So far this year, the AMA has recorded more than 50 legislative and regulatory victories across the country.

In Washington state, for instance, legislation to promote fair contracting between physicians and health insurers awaits the governor's signature. The bill includes language from the AMA's Voluntary Physician Participation Model Act that will protect physicians' freedom to choose the health plans in which they participate.

The new legislation will prohibit the state from tying medical licensure to a physician's participation in any public or private health plan. Washington will be the third state to adopt the AMA's model bill; Georgia and Virginia enacted similar legislation in 2012 and 2011, respectively.

Just last week, Georgia added a new law that will ensure physicians can exercise their clinical judgment without running afoul of medical liability claims based on new federal regulatory guidelines, including the Affordable Care Act. The new law, also based on AMA model legislation, should protect physicians from exposure to charges of negligence that aren't based on clinical standards or the patient's unique medical needs. Read more in a recent issue of AMA Wire.

Eighteen states have introduced or adopted bills to promote truth in advertising among health care professionals. Aimed at helping patients understand the qualifications of the people providing their medical care, such legislation requires professionals to clearly and honestly state their level of training, education and licensing. Michigan is among the states to introduce broad legislation toward this end.

The AMA also has been working to defeat more than 250 bills that would eliminate team-based models of care or expand the scope of practice (member login required) of nonphysician health care professionals in states across the country. For instance, in Kentucky and Connecticut, the AMA helped to ensure physician leadership of the health care team through preserving the requirement that advanced practice nurses practice pursuant to a collaborative agreement. These victories ensure that patients have access to coordinated, quality medical care.

The AMA also is instrumental in shaping advocacy and legislative strategies and policies to combat prescription drug abuse and diversion across the United States. As part of its efforts, the AMA has given testimony and presentations to the National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Conference of Insurance Legislators and the National Safety Council, emphasizing the need for a strong, public health focus as part of a comprehensive solution.

Learn more about the AMA's activities on each of its state priority issues. Also, track real-time legislative developments on issues of concern to the medical profession using the ARC's CQ State Track.

No matter where physicians live, however small or large their state, they can count on the power of organized medicine to fight for a legislative environment that advances quality care and supports the needs of physicians and their patients.