This Goes Beyond a “Chat” Function: Report of ASCO’s Delegation to the AMA House of Delegates

This Goes Beyond a “Chat” Function: Report of ASCO’s Delegation to the AMA House of Delegates

Edward Paul Balaban, DO, FACP, FASCO

Jun 30, 2021

ASCO’s delegation to the American Medical Association (AMA) recently met virtually with the AMA’s House of Delegates (HOD). Our goals are to promote awareness to issues affecting cancer care health delivery. This year we focused on payment reform models. The Biden administration has signaled a pause in ongoing Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) payment reform models as they are examined regarding their overall efficacy. This “pause” will provide a perfect opportunity for all to comment on the need to have medical specialty representation and input. In addition, there needs to be a realization that health care delivery differs and is defined by the needs of the local community (i.e., economic, cultural, etc.). These models need to be tailored to all those needs. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, participation by the medical community should not be mandatory. This resolution received wide support throughout the HOD and was adopted.

We also actively cosponsored a resolution that opposes a recent insurance company practice of providing financial incentives for patients to switch treatments. This incentive to a payer-preferred alternative could have far-reaching health care delivery consequences. The obvious impact is the potential of a switch in treatment that is not preferred by the physician or to what is not considered the standard of care. This practice would affect medical decision making, the patient-doctor relationship, and worsen an already deeply flawed drug delivery system. The resolution was first promoted by our colleagues from rheumatology and was also adopted by the HOD.

In summary, it was another very successful AMA-HOD. Our delegation is small but influential. Our members include Kristina Novick, MD, MS, Ray D. Page, DO, PhD, FACOI, FASCO, Thomas A. Marsland, MD, FASCO, Steve Lee, MD, Erin L. Schwab, MD, and past AMA president Barbara L. McAneny MD, FASCO, MACP. Our ASCO staff support, Katie Gifford, Amanda Schwartz, Allison Rollins, and Jennifer Brunelle, are all so deeply appreciated.

These meetings are always busy. Our primary mission is to focus on cancer care. This includes convening and conducting a very successful cancer caucus. It is during that process that we learn of new issues that affect not only cancer care delivery, but also all of the House of Medicine.

A final personal thought on the heels of this meeting. We all appreciate the herculean effort to make virtual meetings such as this possible. However, after at least a year of nothing but a strictly virtual platform, it is quite clear how limiting this sort of platform can be. We all look forward to the day of delivering our message in person. Our message is much larger than one that is relegated to a “chat” function.

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