Advocacy Update

March 22, 2024: State Advocacy Update


The AMA shared comments (PDF) on the Federation of State Medical Board’s (FSMB) Ethics and Professionalism Committee Draft Report: Guidelines & Recommendations to Aid State Medical Boards and Physicians in Navigating the Responsible and Ethical Incorporation of AI into Clinical Practice.

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“Ensuring the responsible, equitable, ethical, and transparent design, development, and deployment of high-performing augmented intelligence (AI)-enabled tools within our health care system is a key priority for AMA members and our patients,” wrote AMA CEO and Executive Vice President James L. Madara, MD, in the letter. “Other key priorities for our members and patients include ensuring that physicians have a voice in the design and development of AI-enabled technologies; ensuring that they meet the goals of the quadruple aim, advance health equity, prioritize patient safety; and limiting risks to both physicians and patients.”

For these reasons, the AMA expressed an appreciation for the draft report’s prioritization of the importance of physicians and patients knowing when they are engaging with AI and when medical decision-making includes consultation with AI-enabled technologies. The AMA was also encouraged by the acknowledgment of the role of AI developers in ensuring transparency, as well as the consideration of the rapid evolution of AI and what this means for future policy development and educational guidance.

The letter also offered further suggestions within three areas of significance:

  • Transparency
  • Accountability and oversight
  • Education

For more information on the AMA’s work on AI, view the recently adopted Principles for Augmented Intelligence Development, Deployment, and Use (PDF).

Legislation championed by the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) would prioritize physician health and well-being by removing stigmatizing language on credentialing applications used by hospitals, health systems and others. SF 3531 and HF 4188 would prohibit questions that require disclosure of past health conditions that do not represent a risk to patient safety and do not affect a physician’s ability to practice medicine in a competent and ethical manner.

“Increased interferences like prior authorization and being asked to do more with less is having a severe impact on the well-being of Minnesota physicians. This bill will remove barriers that are resulting in them not getting help if they need it,” said MMA President Laurel Ries, MD.

The AMA sent a letter (PDF) of support to Minnesota Senator Kelly L. Morrison, MD, who authored this legislation. The AMA also sent a letter (PDF) to Minnesota Representative Robert Bierman, who introduced the legislation in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Alongside the prohibition of intrusive and unnecessary questions on credentialing applications, SF 3531 and HF 4188 also include provisions that would help establish and fund confidential physician wellness programs, enabling physicians to feel further empowered to seek help for their mental health and wellness.

This legislation builds upon updates to Minnesota’s medical licensing questions several years ago and is consistent with AMA policy, along with recommendations from organizations such as the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation, Federation of State Medical Boards, National Association of Medical Staff Services and Federation of State Physician Health Programs.

The Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH), with support from the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation and the AMA, recently revised their credentialing applications to remove intrusive questions about past treatment or diagnosis of mental health and substance use disorder. NVRH is a critical access hospital located in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

“At NVRH, we are so proud of the work that our Medical Staff Services team has done to de-stigmatize the credentialing process. While a necessary process to ensure quality care, the process can often feel onerous, but through our teams’ work, they have been able to address many of the stressors for our providers,” said NVRH CEO Shawn Tester.

Following these changes, NVRH was recognized by the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation as a WellBeing First Champion, meaning that their application is now consistent with AMA policy as well as recommendations from the Federation of State Medical Boards and the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation.

“We know that medical professionals are still suffering in silence. There is real fear and stigma that can come with health professionals seeking help for themselves.We applaud the efforts of NVRH to make sure they are reducing all barriers to seeking care.When medical staff feel supported, they can take better care of their patients,” said Vermont Medical Society President Rebecca Bell, MD.

The AMA strongly encourages all states, hospitals and health systems to review their licensing, credentialing and other applications and peer review forms to identify and remove any stigmatizing and potentially discriminatory questions about mental health or substance use disorder that may deter physicians from seeking care. Please contact the AMA Advocacy Resource Center for more information.

On March 6, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed legislation protecting patients and providers of in vitro fertilization (IVF) services from legal liability for the damage or destruction of embryos.

The legislation was in response to an Alabama Supreme Court decision on Feb. 16 that ruled, for purposes of the Alabama Wrongful Death of a Minor Act, that cryopreserved embryos created through IVF are included in the legal definition of “children.” The decision was unprecedented and the first time a court recognized embryos stored outside the human body as people. Following the decision, several of the fertility clinics in Alabama paused IVF services.

Legislation to protect IVF was introduced on Feb. 27 in both the Alabama House and Senate and fast-tracked through the legislature. Eight days later, on March 6, the Governor signed the bill. The legislation bars any action, suit or criminal prosecution for damage to or death of an embryo against an IVF patient or provider. The legislation also provides protections for manufacturers of goods used to facilitate IVF or transport embryos.

The bill’s swift passage was in large part due to the advocacy efforts of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, which played a pivotal role in the bill’s success.

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