The American Medical Association has created or strengthen policies to promote public health and advocate for new laws and regulations.
The annual meeting of the American Medical Association's House of Delegates this week included the adoption of several new policies on issues ranging from medical education to gun violence.
The AMA's House of Delegates is the policy-making body of the organization, with physicians, residents, and medical students representing every state and medical specialty. Working through a democratic process, delegates reach a national physician consensus in areas including public health, science, ethics, and government.
The following are 10 new AMA policies adopted by the House of Delegates:
- Children's mental health: The House of Delegates declared that children's mental health and barriers to mental healthcare access for children are in a state of national emergency that requires urgent attention. The new policy calls on the AMA to work with other stakeholders to increase the mental health workforce to address the limited access to mental health services for children.
- Race and education: With the U.S. Supreme Court expected to rule on affirmative action this month, the House of Delegates declared that the consideration of race in undergraduate and medical school admissions is necessary to promote diversity in the physician workforce. "Efforts to do away with affirmative action undermine decades of progress in creating a diverse physician workforce and will reverse gains made in the battle against health disparities," AMA President Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, said in a prepared statement.
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at medical schools: The House of Delegates modified its Continued Support for Diversity in Medical Education policy to state that DEI efforts are essential in medical training. The delegates also voted to oppose any local, state, or federal actions that attempt to limit DEI initiatives, curriculum requirements, or medical education funding. "Diversity among healthcare professionals promotes better access to healthcare, improves healthcare quality for underserved populations, and helps physicians better meet the unique needs of each patient," the AMA said in a prepared statement.
- Body mass index as a measure in medicine: The House of Delegates clarified how BMI should be used as a measure in medicine. The new policy is based on an AMA Council on Science and Public Health report that found BMI is an imperfect method of measuring body fat because it does not account for differences across racial and ethnic groups, genders, and age-span. The new policy directs physicians to use BMI in conjunction with other measures, including measurements of visceral fat, body adiposity index, body composition, relative fat mass, and waist circumference.
- Overdose reversing medications: The House of Delegates voted to encourage states and communities to adopt legislation and policies to make overdose reversal medications accessible to staff, teachers, and students in educational settings. The House of Delegates also voted to support development of alternatives to naloxone to treat synthetic opioid-induced respiratory depression and overdose. Finally, the House of Delegates voted to increase the availability of naloxone and other safe and effective overdose reversal medications by supporting the availability, delivery, procession, and use of mail-order overdose reversal medications.
- Firearm background checks and sales of multiple firearms: The AMA considers firearms violence as a public health crisis. The House of Delegates adopted a policy to advocate for federal and state regulations that prevent inheriting, gifting, or transferring ownership of firearms without adhering to requirements for background checks, waiting periods, and licensure requirements. The House of Delegates also voted to advocate for state and federal regulations to prevent the sale of multiple firearms to the same purchaser within five business days.
- Extreme risk protection orders: Currently, more than 20 states allow law enforcement, family or household members, and/or intimate partners to ask courts to enact extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) to temporarily remove firearms from high-risk individuals. The House of Delegates voted to support laws that include medical professionals as people who can ask a court to prevent an individual who is at risk of harm to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing firearms.
- Social media and firearm violence: The House of Delegates voted to create a policy aimed at addressing social media posts that glorify firearm violence. "Under the new policy, the AMA will call on all social media sites to vigorously and aggressively remove posts that contain videos, photographs, and written online comments encouraging and glorifying the use of firearms," the AMA said in a prepared statement.
- Medicinal psychedelics: The AMA is concerned about lawmakers in some states embracing the use of psychedelics or entactogenic agents such as psilocybin to treat psychiatric conditions. In response, the House of Delegates adopted a policy to advocate against the use of psychedelics or entactogenic agents except in uses that have received Food and Drug Administration approval or uses prescribed in approved investigational studies. The House of Delegates also voted to support more research into psychedelics or entactogenic agents with the scientific integrity and regulatory standards in place to evaluate other drug therapies.
- Hazardous chemicals: In response to several recent train derailments that resulted in hazardous chemical spills, the House of Delegates voted to advocate for strengthening regulations for the transportation of hazardous materials. "Under the new policy, the AMA will advocate for regulations that prioritize public health and safety over cost. The new policy also supports efforts to hold companies responsible for chemical spills by making them liable for the healthcare costs incurred by individuals exposed to hazardous chemicals," the AMA said in a prepared statement.
Photo credit: Chris Dorney
Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care editor at HealthLeaders.
The American Medical Association adopted a new policy stating that children's mental health and barriers to mental healthcare access for children are in a state of national emergency that requires urgent attention.
The AMA adopted a new policy to advocate for affirmative action in undergraduate and medical education.
The AMA adopted three policies aimed at addressing firearm violence.