CHICAGO — The American Medical Association (AMA), the premier national physician organization in the country, voted to adopt new policies on emerging health care topics during the second day of its Annual Meeting.

The AMA's House of Delegates is the policy-making body at the center of American medicine, bringing together an inclusive group of physicians, medical students and residents representing every state and medical field. Delegates work in a democratic process to create a national physician consensus on emerging issues in public health, science, ethics, business and government to continually provide safer, higher quality and more efficient care for patients and communities.

The policies adopted by the House of Delegates today include:

Bolstering efforts to improve timely access to care for America's veterans

In an effort to ensure America's veterans receive timely and high quality health care, the AMA today adopted new policy that calls on the organization to advocate for improvements to legislation that would ensure veterans can quickly and easily access primary and specialty health care close to home.

"The AMA believes that all Americans should have timely access to health care, especially those who bravely serve our country," said AMA Board Member Georgia A. Tuttle, M.D. "Our nation's physicians can and should be a part of the solution to ensure America's veterans can access the care they need and deserve."

Last year an audit released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) found that more than 57,000 veterans were awaiting their first medical appointment at VA medical facilities across the country, while 64,000 who had enrolled in the VA's health care system never even had an appointment. This prompted the AMA, during its 2014 Annual Meeting, to urge President Obama and Congress to rapidly enact long-term solutions so that eligible veterans do not have to wait to receive vital health care services. The new policy, adopted today, also calls on the AMA to advocate for the VA health care system to hire additional primary and specialty physicians both full-and part-time as needed to address this important issue.

Calling for disclosure of chemicals used during "fracking"

Concerned about the inability to effectively monitor and track possible long term public health and environmental changes associated hydraulic fracturing, physicians today voted to adopt policy supporting the full disclosure of chemicals placed into the environment during the petroleum, oil and natural gas exploration and extraction process.

"Most states do not require drilling companies to publically disclose what chemicals are injected into the ground during hydraulic fracturing, said AMA Board Member David O. Barbe, M.D. "The new AMA policy supports disclosure requirements to monitor any environmental exposure to fracking chemicals and advise or treat patients based on reliable information."

The new AMA policy also supports the requirement that government agencies record and monitor the chemicals placed into the environment for extracting petroleum, oil and natural gas. Monitoring for fracking chemicals should focus on human exposure in well water and surface water and government agencies should share this information with physicians and the public.

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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.