HONOLULU — The American Medical Association (AMA), the premier national physician organization in the country, voted this week to adopt new policies aimed at improving the health of the nation. The new policies were approved during the voting session of the AMA’s Interim Meeting.

The policies adopted by the House of Delegates include:

Backing paid leave for organ donors

To ease the financial burden on organ donors, the AMA approved new policy to encourage paid leave for those making organ donations. Studies have shown that direct costs to living organ donors are greater than one month’s wage for 76 percent of donors, and many donors do not have sufficient medical leave and/or vacation time to accommodate their recovery.

“Living organ donors make a tremendous, brave sacrifice and often require more recovery time than employers provide. Our hope is that employers will take this selflessness into account and formulate policies that allow men and women to be living organ donors without taking a financial hit for doing so,” said S. Bobby Mukkamala, M.D., a member of the AMA Board of Trustees.

Emergency Medicaid funding and assistance for Puerto Rico

With the Caribbean battered by Hurricane Irma and still dealing with its repercussions, the AMA will urge the federal government to help Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands’ recovery by adequately funding their Medicaid program.

“Increased federal funding for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Medicaid programs would provide support for the medical and public health needs of their residents and would help provide needed care and restore access to health care services,” said Russell W.H. Kridel, MD, a member of the AMA Board of Trustees.

Need for cervical cancer screening in female-to-male transgender patients

Although routine cervical screening has been shown to greatly reduce the incidence of new cervical cancers, as well as death from the disease, sexual and gender minority individuals may be less likely to undergo regular cancer and sexually transmitted infection screenings based on anatomy, despite their comparable or elevated risk for these conditions. To improve screening and health outcomes among sex and gender minority patients, the AMA House of Delegates approved policy to better educate physicians about the need for regular cancer screening and sexually transmitted infection screening among this population.

“Sexual and gender minority patients may be unaware of the risks they face and the screening that could lower their risk of cervical cancer,” said Ryan Ribeira, M.D., MPH. “Equipping our physicians with the knowledge and tools necessary to fight this disease and treat this vulnerable population will reduce the incidence of cervical cancer and sexually transmitted infections and save lives.”

Reducing health issues associated with births

With at least one in seven women experiencing anxiety or depression during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth and 65,000 U.S. women having serious health complications from pregnancy-related causes, the American Medical Association adopted new policies to encourage a routine protocol that would include depression screening in pregnant and postpartum women. The AMA also will advocate for state and federal legislation that would establish Maternal Mortality Review Committees to analyze the circumstances surrounding deaths that occur during pregnancy or within the first year after childbirth.

“As attention is turned toward the newborn, the health and wellbeing of the mother can, unfortunately, take a back seat, even as preventable physical and mental issues pose dangers. We need to recognize that dangers of post-partum depression and recognize that pregnancy-related deaths have been increasing,” said Albert J. Osbahr III, MD, a member of the AMA Board of Trustees.

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About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.