By: Kyle Atcheson, MD
For the first time in over two years, the American Medical Association House of Delegates annual meeting took place in person in Chicago to discuss the matters most pertinent to physicians and their patients. The overall sentiment was one of elation: friends and colleagues were able to turn off the webcams and finally convene face to face. This was my first AMA meeting, representing our society as the Resident and Fellow Delegate, but I was not a stranger to the parliamentary procedure of a House of Delegates meeting nor the major ideas being discussed given my past experiences.
The overarching theme of the conference was maintaining physician autonomy and advocacy, with the major topics focused on restructuring Medicare reimbursement, addressing encroachments by practice expansion from advanced practice providers, and protecting the integrity of private and independent practices. The actual breadth of resolutions and policies discussed, however, was in the several hundreds given the backlog from two years of virtual meetings. Many of the topics related to recent public issues, including firearm-related violence and abortion, were hotly contested though showed how respectful diplomacy and compromise can allow the HOD to make constant improvements to their policies and advocacy efforts.
For ASNR and radiology as a whole, it was empowering to see the number of radiologists involved in the AMA. The Radiology Section Council was a very large and active section of the AMA, often helping to dictate and support policy within the collective specialty society subgroup as well as the AMA at large. Multiple radiologists were elected to the Board of Trustees and other leadership positions, several of whom have been in leadership positions for years and are poised for even higher leadership roles in the future. For a specialty that can often be hidden in the shadows, we were well respected at the conference. Several resolutions were pertinent to radiology, including engaging CMS in maintaining and advancing appropriate use criteria standards, addressing national drug shortages including intravenous contrast, and protecting/promoting independent physician practices as new payment models are being developed.
Altogether, the first back-in-person AMA HOD meeting was a success. It will take time for things to reacclimate to a standard procedure, likely one that will be forever hybrid though focused on improving physician engagement. Radiology continues to play a substantive role in AMA policy and leadership, one that we can be proud of and confident in to advocate on behalf of radiologists and the patients we serve. I am very thankful for the opportunity to represent our society, and I look forward to participating in the AMA in the future.