AMA House of Delegates Addresses Gun Violence, Climate Change, Reproductive Health 

6/16/2022

For the first time since 2019, the AMA House of Delegates met in person in Chicago this past week and tackled a variety of major issues including gun violence, climate change and reproductive health.  

AMA President Gerald Harmon, MD, began the event by calling on Congress for strong action to address the public health crisis of gun violence. “You have called us heroes,” Harmon said. “Now is the time for you to become heroes to address the public health crisis of gun violence."  

 
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The Minnesota AMA contigent included: Randy RIce, MD, (left); J.P. Abenstein, MD; Dennis O’Hare, MD; Lisa Mattson, MD; Adrina Kocharian; Dave Thorson, MD; Andrea Hillerud, MD; Laurel Ries, MD; Cindy Firkins Smith, MD; and Ashok Patel, MD. Missing from the photo: Dan Pfeifle, MD.


Two days later, attendees at the meeting were somewhat encouraged by news that a bipartisan group of U.S. senators had reached agreement on the framework for federal legislation. Among actions taken by the AMA at the meeting was adoption of policy in support of legislation requiring firearm ammunition packaging to include warning labels. 

Harmon also presented the AMA’s new Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians. That plan includes reform of prior authorization, updates to Medicare payment, fighting unsafe non-physician scope of practice expansions, supporting telehealth, and reducing physician burnout. 

Minnesota was well-represented at the meeting. “Our AMA focused on critical issues such as gun violence, physician burnout, and ways to counter misinformation by physicians and others,” said Minnesota Delegation Chair Cindy Firkins Smith, MD. “We have a very dedicated group of physicians working to represent Minnesota physicians at this meeting.”  

Other actions taken at the meeting included: 

  • Adopting policy, co-sponsored by Minnesota, declaring climate change a public health crisis 

  • Adopting policy to preserve access to reproductive health services 

  • Directing AMA to work with others to develop more concise and useful discharge summaries to support care 

  • Adopting a Board report calling for the implementation of a comprehensive strategy to address health-related disinformation disseminated by health professionals 

  • Affirming that poverty is detrimental to health and supporting efforts to ensure that minimum wage provisions keep pace with inflation. 

The AMA installed Jack Resneck, Jr., MD, as the new AMA president. In his inaugural address, Resneck noted that, “AMA has been on the wrong side of history” at times and expressed his dedication to advancing health equity. Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH was elected as the new AMA President-Elect.  Ehrenfeld is a senior associate dean and tenured professor of anesthesiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.  

Minnesota alternate delegate Laurel Ries, MD, a family physician from St. Paul, served as member of a reference committee that considered public health-related issues. Other members of the Minnesota delegation included: J.P. Abenstein, MD; Andrea Hillerud, MD; Adrina Kocharian (regional medical student delegate); Lisa Mattson, MD; Dennis O’Hare, MD; Ashok Patel, MD; Dan Pfeifle, MD (delegate from the AMA Resident Fellow Section); Randy Rice, MD, MMA president; and Dave Thorson, MD.