The AMA elects a new president, supports state efforts to remove personal and religious preference exemptions for immunizations, and seeks a hardship exemption for doctors who have problems transitioning to the ICD-10 coding system.
The American Medical Association wrapped up its annual meeting of its House of Delegates this week in Chicago, having elected a new president, and weighed in on ICD-10, vaccine exemptions, workplace violence against healthcare providers, and behavioral health, among other topics.
While the AMA doesn't make federal policy, the resolutions adopted by its House of Delegates wield considerable influence over Congress, which views the AMA as the primary voice of physicians in the US.
The AMA this week officially elected its youngest president in 160 years, Steven Stack, MD, a 43-year-old emergency physician from Lexington, KY. He takes over from outgoing AMA President Robert Wah, MD.
Stack breaks with tradition another way, by becoming the AMA's first emergency physician president. He previously held positions on various AMA committees, including an elected post on the AMA Board of Trustees in 2006.
Steven J. Stack, MD
In other voting, Andrew W. Gurman, MD, an orthopaedic hand surgeon from Hollidaysburg, PA, was elected president-elect of the body. He is to assume the office of president in June 2016.
An ICD-10 Grace Period
One of the AMA's top issues is its opposition to the federal government's implementation schedule for ICD-10. In Chicago, AMA members voted in favor of asking for a two-year grace period from penalties that could occur because of ICD-10 implementation. The AMA's policy asks for a hardship exemption for doctors who had problems transitioning to the new coding system.
Hospitals and physician practices are just a few months away from the October 1 deadline to transition to ICD-10, and there have been complaints about the administrative burden all along the way.
The deadline has already been extended twice. At the opening session of this year's meeting, outgoing AMA President Wah told audience members that the acceptance rate of Medicare claims would fall to 81% based on early tests of the new codes.
Jacqueline Fellows is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.