CHICAGO, June 19, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The American Medical Association (AMA), the nation's largest physician organization, voted today during its annual policy-making meeting to adopt the following new policies:

AMA to Evaluate ICD-11 as a New Diagnostic Coding System: Delegates at the AMA's Annual Meeting today adopted policy to evaluate ICD-11 as a possible alternative to replace ICD-9. The AMA will conduct more research on this issue and will report back to the House of Delegates in 2013.

"ICD-10 coding will create unnecessary and significant financial and administrative burdens for physicians," said AMA President-elect Ardis Dee Hoven, M.D. "It is critical to evaluate alternatives to ICD-9 that will make for a less cumbersome transition for physicians and allow physicians to focus on their primary priority - patient care. AMA voted today to consider ICD-11 as a possible alternative. The policy also asks the AMA and other stakeholders, such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to examine other options."

Opposing Legislation to Exempt Cigars from FDA Oversight: Cigars are being marketed to youth in a range of attractive flavors like candy, alcohol, fruit and chocolate. Cigar smoking is the second most common form of tobacco use among youth, and each day almost 3,000 children under 18 years old try cigar smoking for the first time. The AMA passed policy today to block legislation that would exempt flavored cigars from Food and Drug Administration oversight.

"Tobacco use can lead to serious cardiovascular conditions and remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States," said Dr. Hoven. "The AMA has long held policy against flavored tobacco and marketing it to youth. It is important that we help our children make good decisions so that they may lead healthy lives."

Drug Courts as Incarceration Alternative for Nonviolent Criminals: New AMA policy encourages the establishment of drug courts at the state and local level as an alternative to incarceration and a means of overcoming addiction for individuals with addictive disease convicted of nonviolent crimes. According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, drug courts are an alternative to individuals with addictive disease, providing them with intensive treatment and regular drug testing. A 2009 study of the National Institute of Justice found that drug court participants had significantly fewer positive drug tests and reported better improvements in their family relationships.

"Individuals with addictive disease require treatment," said Dr. Hoven. "When an individual is convicted of a nonviolent crime, drug courts can provide the medical attention, support and accountability needed to help them conquer their addiction and turn their lives around."

Dispensing Medically Appropriate Quantities of Formulary Medications: Pharmacy benefit managers and insurers institute prescription drug quantity limits that dictate the number of dosage units of a particular drug that will be covered by the plan for a specific period of time. The AMA voted today to work with third party payers to create an exceptions process to ensure that patients can access higher or lower quantities of medically necessary drugs or testing and treatment supplies.

"It is imperative that medication quantity limits do not prevent a patient from getting the medication they need when they need it," said AMA Board Member Carl A. Sirio, M.D. "In patients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, for example, physicians need the flexibility to prescribe different medications in different doses and combinations to meet the unique needs of each individual patient. To avoid the dire consequences that can result if patients are not able to immediately and easily access medically required drugs, an exceptions process must be created to ensure that patients can get the medications their physician prescribes."

Media Contacts:
AMA Media Relations
Newsroom - (312) 239-4991
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 www.ama-assn.org.

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