July 13, 2018 (ACP) – Starting with election of Atlanta internist Dr. Sandra Fryhofer to the American Medical Association's Board of Trustees, the 2018 AMA Annual Meeting proved to be a huge boon for the American College of Physicians' advocacy agenda.
“This is the first time that an ACP candidate has made it to the Board, and we are very excited,” said Dr. William Golden, MD, who headed ACP's delegation to the AMA House of Delegates and is a professor of medicine and public health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. The Board of Trustees is responsible for implementing AMA policy, which means that an ACP member will be on the front lines of that process.
Fryhofer was president of ACP in 2000-2001, the second woman to be elected to lead ACP. During her tenure on the ACP Board of Regents, she chaired the Committee on Women's Health and was an active member of the Education Committee. She is also a member of the ACP delegation to the AMA.
The College's current president, Dr. Ana María López, described Dr. Fryhofer as “an outstanding physician thought-leader who will be an excellent advocate for improving our nation's health care system and promoting accessible, affordable care for all Americans while on the Board of Trustees.”
She said that “ACP looks forward to working with her and the AMA in tackling complex health care issues that impact patients and physicians across the country.”
Also at the AMA meeting, held in early June in Chicago, ACP co-sponsored two resolutions – one opposing the separation of children from their families at the border, and another geared toward more accurate census recording methods.
On family separation, two resolutions were advanced at the meeting, including one which ACP had asked primary care specialties – including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – to co-sponsor. The House of Delegates passed a hybrid resolution taking both into account.
“The family separation resolution got overwhelming support,” Golden said. “It's not a position about immigration. It is focused on the negative impact that family separation can have on children.” The resolution opposes separating children from their parents in the absence of immediate physical or emotional threats to the child's well-being.
On the census issue, Golden noted that immigrants often avoid the U.S. Census process because of fears of deportation, but this results in an overall loss of benefits as census data determine the allocation of more than $675 billion in federal funding. The resolution that ACP co-sponsored asked the AMA to support adequate funding for the U.S. Census in order to ensure that they are able to collect and disseminate accurate and relevant data. It was adopted at the meeting.
“If people are not counted, resources don't go to those communities,” Golden said.
Dr. López addressed the issue in a speech at the Internal Medicine Caucus and Section Council, before the AMA meeting.
“Most of this money is spent on programs related to health care, education, and assistance for the poor,” she said. “These funds are vital to addressing the health care needs of vulnerable populations and it is critical to make sure that they are distributed based on the most accurate data possible.”
In recent years, AMA policies have become more in line with those of ACP, including policies related to curtailing gun violence. The AMA House of Delegates backed resolutions calling for gun-violence restraining orders; tougher background checks; and banning assault weapons, high capacity magazines, and bump stocks, among other measures. Additionally, they called for the development of protocols requiring the removal of firearms from prohibited people. ACP has long called for many of these same measures, including background checks.