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AMA President: 'I Can't Sugarcoat the Very Real Threats'

Analysis  |  By Christopher Cheney  
   June 09, 2023

Jack Resneck Jr., MD, spotlights the challenges and victories of his year-long presidency of the American Medical Association.

In the final speech of his American Medical Association presidency on Friday, Jack Resneck Jr., MD, offered his assessment of the U.S. healthcare system to the AMA House of Delegates.

Resneck, who is a practicing dermatologist based in San Francisco, gave a wide-ranging speech that included assailing prior authorization hurdles, criticizing the Medicare payment system, and shining light on threats to reproductive healthcare. He will be succeeded as AMA president this month by Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, who is a Wisconsin-based anesthesiologist.

The AMA was founded in 1847. The physician-led organization convenes more than 190 state and specialty medical societies as well as other key stakeholders.

The following are highlights of Friday's speech:

  • "I'm sure some of the headlines about burnout stop you in your tracks—they certainly keep me up at night. One in five physicians plans to leave their practice within two years, while one in three are reducing their hours. Only 57 percent of doctors today would choose medicine again if they were just starting their careers."
  • "We never turn our backs on our patients because that's not who we are. And we carry that same stubborn resolve and tenacity into our advocacy work. That means fighting for the long overdue fixes to a broken Medicare payment system, and obnoxious prior auth abuses, even when policymakers have neglected the problems for decades. That means defending against scope expansions that put patients at risk, even when it requires gearing up again and again in state after state. That means confronting medical disinformation in the news and on social media, even when its growth feels overwhelming."
  • "No, I can't sugarcoat the very real threats. I’m still appalled by the Medicare cuts. What on Earth was Congress thinking? Practices are on the brink. Our workforce is at risk. Access to care stands in the balance. We absolutely must tie future Medicare payments to inflation, and we're readying a major national effort to finally achieve Congressional action."
  • "Shame on political leaders, fueling fear and sewing division by making enemies of public health officials, of transgender adolescents, of physicians doing anti-racism work, and of women making personal decisions about their pregnancies."
  • "I'm also deeply disappointed by our nation's lack of progress to address the public health crisis of gun violence. Preventable and needless homicides and suicides continue, and the political inaction is atrocious."
  • "You wouldn't know it from social media, but after some unfortunate detours, most patients are turning back to their trusted physicians for our insights and expertise about science and medicine."
  • "You wouldn't know it from 20 state legislatures racing to criminalize abortion and rob women of access to reproductive health care, but most people in this country support our policies and the fundamental rights of patients to make their own decisions about their health."
  • "You wouldn't know it from health insurers still bullying us with prior auth delays and denying care, but policymakers from both parties are onto these schemes, the momentum has shifted, and they’re not going to allow this nonsense anymore."
  • "In our country, and in our profession, we don't agree on everything, but we agree on enough things to pursue the shared things that we care about. Together. And let us not forget that those pursuits have generated some big and small wins tied to the AMA Recovery Plan for America's Physicians."
  • "Our Congressional advocacy played a key role in legislation to extend Medicare telehealth coverage."
  • "We have enormous privilege to do this work. We share a love for what we do—to help, to cure, to listen, to solve, to heal, to lead. And we have a responsibility to our patients and to the health of this nation. We are the keepers of an important tradition … a flame that must not be extinguished. Our profession is counting on us to get this right. Our patients are depending on us to continue this fight. We will not let them down."

Related: New AMA President: 'Physicians Are Incredibly Lucky and Privileged to do Our Work'

Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders.


Physician burnout poses an existential threat to the clinician workforce, with one in five physicians planning to leave their practice within two years.

Medicare cuts pose another daunting challenge to physicians, and the AMA is pressing Congress to tie Medicare payments to inflation.

AMA victories over the past year include Congressional advocacy that played a role in extending Medicare telehealth coverage.

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