AMA Wire

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Special Feature

Members can weigh in on key policy issues

Members can weigh in on key policy issues

Since they were introduced at the Annual Meeting in 2010, Virtual Reference Committees (login required) have allowed AMA members to weigh in on key policy issues facing medicine from the comfort of their homes or offices. The online forums have permitted physicians and medical students, delegates and non-delegates alike, to add their voices to the AMA policy discussion at their convenience.

"I felt the virtual reference committees did streamline the process.  It made for a shorter reference committee and at least in June made for a much shorter House floor discussion," said Kenneth Crabb, MD, a member of the AMA House of Delegates from Minnesota.

"For the newbies, they have a chance to see what the lay-of-the-land is and identify some of the key players. They arrive better prepared to participate in the workings of the House," he added.

The AMA House of Delegates will consider these policy issues—in the form of more than 200 reports and resolutions—June 15 to 19 in Chicago during the AMA's Annual Meeting. Members also can provide testimony in person during any of the eight reference committees that will meet June 16 as part of the Annual Meeting. View the schedule.

Following are the resolutions generating the most discussion so far:

  • "Firearm Safety." Read the resolution and comment (login required).
  • "Evaluating the Effect of ACGME Resident Work Hours Reforms." Read and comment on the resolution.
  • "Poverty Screening as a Clinical Tool for Improving Health Outcomes." Read and comment on the resolution.
  • "Public Education on Distracted Driving." Read and comment on the resolution.
  • "Support of Over-the-Counter Sales of Oral Contraceptives." Read and comment on the resolution.
  • "Government Interference in the Practice of Medicine." Read and comment on the resolution.

One report up for discussion is Board of Trustees Report 8—which recommends that virtual reference committees are incorporated into every House of Delegates policymaking meeting using a set of parameters and that the Council on Constitution and Bylaws review the virtual reference committee process to ensure compatibility with the AMA Bylaws and propose amendments if deemed necessary. Read the full report.

Here's how the AMA House makes policy:

  • State and specialty societies draft and submit resolution(s) for consideration.
  • The resolution is assigned to a reference committee based on the topic. (A reference committee is somewhat similar to a congressional committee.)
  • Comments on the resolution are accepted online from AMA members and delegates.
  • Based on the comments, the reference committee drafts a preliminary report for consideration by the committee at the Annual Meeting in Chicago on June 16.
  • The committee drafts a final report for the full House to consider.
  • That report is debated in the full House of Delegates, and the House decides on the final disposition.

View a graphic that shows how the House sets policy.

Use this opportunity now to influence AMA policy via the AMA's secure online forum. Comments will be accepted until June 2. To access the online reference committees, either log in with your AMA account or create an account if you don't have one.