AMA Adopts New Policies During Final Day of Semi-Annual Meeting


NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 15, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The American Medical Association (AMA), the nation's largest physician organization, voted today during the closing session of its semi-annual policy-making meeting to adopt the following new policies:

Guidelines for Health Insurance Exchanges

The AMA today adopted new policies on the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. New policies include AMA support for using the open marketplace model for exchanges to increase competition and maximize patient choice, and the involvement of state medical associations in the legislative and regulatory processes concerning state health insurance exchanges. The new policy also asks the AMA to advocate for the inclusion of actively practicing physicians and patients in health insurance exchange governing structures and for developing systems that allow for real-time patient eligibility information. The policies were adopted as part of a report from the AMA's Council on Medical Service.

"If they are developed well, health insurance exchanges will provide a new way for millions of Americans to obtain health care coverage from private insurers," said AMA Board Member Barbara McAneny, M.D. "Physicians and patients should be involved in setting up and governing these bodies to ensure they best meet the health care needs of residents in each state."

Virtual Medical IDs

New AMA policy encourages the availability of portable medical identification alert systems for patients. Virtual medical identification systems allow emergency medical personnel to access a patient's medical history and emergency contact phone numbers through a pin number that can be attached to clothing, keys, or stored in a wallet. They allow emergency responders and medical staff in emergency departments immediate access to important health and family contact information for patients who are enrolled in these systems.

"A physician's ability to obtain health information for patients at the point of care can make a significant difference in providing successfully treatment," said AMA Board Member Carl Sirio, M.D. "When patients are unable to communicate for themselves, especially in emergency situations, these identification devices can share vital information and may help save lives."

Stop the Implementation of ICD-10

The AMA House of Delegates voted today to work vigorously to stop implementation of ICD-10 (The International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision), a new code set for medical diagnoses. ICD-10 has about 69,000 codes and will replace the 14,000 ICD-9 diagnosis codes currently in use.

"The implementation of ICD-10 will create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patients' care," said Peter W. Carmel, M.D., AMA president. At a time when we are working to get the best value possible for our health care dollar, this massive and expensive undertaking will add administrative expense and create unnecessary workflow disruptions. The timing could not be worse as many physicians are working to implement electronic health records into their practices. We will continue working to help physicians keep their focus where it should be – on their patients."

A 2008 study found that a small three-physician practice would need to spend $83,290 to implement ICD-10, and a 10-physician practice would spend $285,195 to make the coding change.

Stop Legal Prohibition of Male Circumcision

Ballot and other legal initiatives have recently been proposed in California that would ban infant male circumcision and penalize any physician who performed it. The AMA voted today to oppose any attempt to legally prohibit male infant circumcision.

"There is strong evidence documenting the health benefits of male circumcision, and it is a low-risk procedure, said Peter W. Carmel, M.D., AMA president. "Today the AMA again made it clear that it will oppose any attempts to intrude into legitimate medical practice and the informed choices of patients."

Media Contacts:
AMA Media Relations
Chicago - (312) 464-4430
Washington - (202) 789-7421

About the American Medical Association (AMA)

The American Medical Association helps doctors help patients by uniting physicians nationwide to work on the most important professional, public health and health policy issues. The nation's largest physician organization plays a leading role in shaping the future of medicine. For more information on the AMA, please visit

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