Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Colleagues, we are sad to report that the June AMA Meeting was not the AMA’s finest hour. The Delegates are tiring of virtual meetings and virtual debate. Tempers roiled as a predictable few tried to shout down (sometimes literally) the Speakers, thinking that passion, volume, and sometimes outright rudeness is a clever and successful debate technique to ensure victory...and sometimes it is. The last time the AMA HOD witnessed such heated exchanges was in 1997, and, more mildly, in 2010. Should you wish to congratulate or encourage the speakers, Drs Bruce Scott and Lisa Egbert, please do so. Dr Egbert is from the Great Lakes Caucus, and we applaud her brave aplomb and political skill, even when rattled, but thus sometimes required as the measure of a true leader. Dr Scott’s continued grace and good humor was needed more than ever this meeting, and well demonstrated; in our opinion, Dr Scott expertly navigated choppy and even dangerous waters. The Southeastern Delegation congratulates you both.
One of the two major issues of the meeting was the Speakers Report #2 of the Special Task Force on Election Reform, reporting on a two-year study of AMA elections, responding to the request from the New England Delegation. The report was mostly accepted. As the report items are put into language of Election Procedure or AMA Bylaws, we will update you. Election process changes expected include maintenance of the AMA taping of the candidate/speaker interviews; choice of virtual or in-person Interviews in the run up to election day; restrictions and centralization of mass communications with a standard "opt out" option; a change in late candidate announcements; banning most stickers, badges and memorabilia; a combined campaign reception preserving individual receptions as desired for some, announcements, at one reception only, and a campaign/elections oversight committee.
The other was the AMA Corporate document, the AMA Strategic Plan on Equity in Health Care, announced to the press on May 11, 2021, and to the AMA Leadership on May 12, 2021. The plan has already been initiated and will be further rolled out over the summer with educational seminars and then discussed with the AMA House in November. A Resolution to enact the plan and expand its original scope, was adopted by the House, While a majority asked for referral, the request was turned aside by the Reference Committee.
Drs. Reha and Gribbin continue their work on SED Resolutions and other important policy. Read the Resolutions report for the J21 meeting here. Other issues of importance according to the AMA press releases include a variety of social issues, more than usual, because of the COVID pandemic, an active Medical Student Section, and a few medical issues such as payment systems, scope of practice and telehealth. Coincidentally, I think, just before our AMA Convention, the American Association of Physician Assistants decided to change their designation to “Physician Associate” rather than “Physician Assistant.” The AMA will work against this confusing and presumptive name change, but even so, such changes in State Legislatures would naturally take a long time. One prominent wag pointed out that the next change could be a simple reversal of the words to “Associate Physician.”
The elections this year were interesting, colored by the Southeastern Delegation attempts to better understand the Strategic Plan on Equity and to challenge some of its scope, some of its lengthy preamble, and some of its assumptions. These attempts at normal debate, including the item mentioned above, moving them all to a normal, in-personal debate framework in November, were met by fierce and often virulent attack via social media and by phone call. The SED still did well, although in a more tense and negative atmosphere than expected. Southeastern candidates were in 6 elections and prevailed in 4. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the winners and our thanks to the graceful losers.
We welcome Dr. Gerald Harmon from South Carolina as the new AMA President. He is only the third AMA president to live and practice in South Carolina at the time of office. Amazingly enough, Dr Harmon still has an active family medicine and active hospitalist practice in Georgetown, SC where he is also a community leader, well respected physician, family man fully supported by his accomplished wife, Linda, and investor. About 300 of his local friends, local lay and hospital dignitaries and several SC State dignitaries celebrated his inauguration in an event sponsored by Dr Harmon’s local hospital, as they watched the AMA TV feed featuring Dr Harmon with Drs Kridel and Bailey on June 15, 2021.
The next meeting must be IN PERSON,
John Poole, MD, Chair (NJ)
Clay Hays, MD, Chair-elect (MS)
Claudette Dalton, MD, Immediate Past Chair (VA)
Stephen Imbeau, MD, Newsletter Editor (SC)