The American Medical Association (AMA) recently held the interim House of Delegates (HOD) meeting. Like most every gathering during the pandemic, the meeting was virtually conducted. After what had to be a herculean effort by the AMA staff, this HOD included live debates of resolutions and board reports. This entailed rather significant technologic hurdles that would allow for individual comment as well as protection of voting privileges. It would lead to a couple of rather long days at the computer, but in summary, the experience was very interesting and productive.
The ASCO (Association for Clinical Oncology) delegation to the AMA is composed of myself with Dr. Tom Marsland, Dr. Ray Page, Dr. Barbara McAneny, Dr. Kristina Novick, Dr. Steve Lee, and Dr. Erin Schwab. We all receive amazing support from a number of ASCO staff. “Thank you” always falls short in commenting on all that they do to make this happen; nevertheless, thank you, Amanda, Katie, Allison, and Jennifer.
We were successful at proposing and testifying a resolution emphasizing the discouragement of drug home infusion (particularly biologics and chemotherapy) unless circumstances predict significant benefit over risk and patient safeguards are in place. This was done with the American College of Rheumatology co-sponsoring and with significant support from the American Academy of Neurology. The resolution will be incorporated into AMA policy. In addition and, again, along with the American College of Rheumatology, we successfully proposed policy that would advocate for model legislation against co-pay accumulators. This is a payer strategy emerging across the nation whereby the manufacturer does not apply financial co-pay assistance to the patient’s co-pay or out-of-pocket cost. This result in patients being responsible for a higher portion of drug costs and then potentially not receiving the care at all.
The interim meeting focused on the ongoing national events and their impact on health care. The AMA recognizes and will build on its current policy towards confronting racism. This will include educational forums, research efforts, as well as institutional policy that would strengthen and reinforce equitable health care delivery throughout the nation as well as eliminate any element of racism in that process. This endeavor parallels ASCO’s current drive to ensure equitable health care access to all. The ASCO delegation would vigorously support this important concept.
It was clear during the entire meeting that there is frankly no escaping the ongoing pandemic reality. We meet virtually, but the decisions are real time. Ultimately, the only way to a somewhat normal future is for the coming together of health care providers armed with the science within our profession to chart the appropriate pathway out.