CHICAGO – 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 Annual Meeting.

The policies adopted by the House of Delegates include:

Making diapers tax free

The AMA called for removing the sales tax on child and adult diapers, a tax levied in 36 states. In addition, the AMA called for the inclusion of child and adult incontinence products as a qualified medical expense for Health Savings Accounts.

Lack of affordable access to incontinence products can result in diapers not being changed in timely manner, resulting in such health issues as urinary tract infections and diaper dermatitis. Diaper expenses fall disproportionately on young families, the elderly, adults with physical and mental disabilities, as well as the poor. The AMA previously called for removing the sales tax on feminine hygiene products.

“Vulnerable patient populations need affordable access to diapers. The fiscal impact is de minimus for states but significant for low-income patients,” said AMA Trustee Scott Ferguson, M.D.

Denouncing medical repatriation

The AMA denounced the policy of forced medical repatriation – the policy of transferring undocumented patients in need of care to their country of origin.

“The AMA believes every person should have access to essential health care. Not only does forced repatriation deny people access to care, it targets a vulnerable population,” said AMA Trustee Thomas J. Madejski, M.D. “This practice can lead to serious medical consequences for patients. Health care providers should not be in the business of immigration enforcement.”

Protecting physician whistleblowers

As more physicians become employed by nonphysician organizations such as hospitals, corporations or private equity, the AMA is calling on states and the federal government to develop legislation to protect physicians who report safety and other concerns.

Legislation should protect physicians from corporate, workplace and employer retaliation when reporting safety, harassment, or fraud concerns. This also should apply to the government when employing independent and third-party contractors to care for patients.

“Physicians must be protected for voicing quality-of-care concerns even when it might be at odds with their place of employment. Patients are relying on physicians’ independent medical judgment. Physicians shouldn’t face retaliation for following their professional responsibility,” said AMA Trustee Scott Ferguson, M.D.

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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.