AMA meeting highlights: FAAP elected president-elect, new policies on pediatric issues adopted
Charles J.Barone II, M.D., FAAP
Susan R. Bailey, M.D., FAAP, a pediatric allergist, was elected president-elect of
the American Medical Association (AMA) in June.
Dr. Bailey is a member of the AAP Texas Chapter and the Section on Allergy and Immunology.
She has served as speaker of the AMA House of Delegates (HOD) for four years and vice
speaker for four years. She will be installed as the AMA’s 175th president in June
2020, following Patrice Harris, M.D., a child psychiatrist.
In addition to the election, the AMA annual meeting included discussion and adoption
of policies affecting children and of interest to pediatricians, including health
care coverage, immunizations, the crisis at the border, electronic nicotine delivery
systems (ENDS) and gun violence.
Single-payer option opposed
The AMA reaffirmed its support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the principle
that all Americans have health insurance, including access to a public plan option.
The AMA opposed a single payer or Medicare for All in a close vote but endorsed further
discussion within the AMA HOD of a single-payer option.
The AMA adopted a policy that states “Health, in all of its dimensions, is a basic
human right.” This policy will influence AMA support of changes to the ACA.
Another new policy calls for extending Medicaid coverage to 12 months postpartum.
The AAP and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists delegations supported
this change to address maternal and infant mortality, postpartum depression and reproductive
With strong support from the AAP delegation, the AMA adopted a policy that endorses
the elimination of nonmedical immunization exemptions. However, some state legislatures
have difficulty passing such laws due to threats by those who oppose vaccines and
The AMA Council on Legislation, chaired by David T. Tayloe Jr., M.D., FAAP, AAP past
president and AAP AMA delegation member, is working on AMA support of federal legislation
that would eliminate nonmedical immunization exemptions, as vaccine-preventable disease
outbreaks have increased across the U.S.
The HOD also approved an amendment to the AMA policy “Education and Public Awareness
on Vaccine Safety and Efficacy” to include “mature minor” provisions. Many states
have mature minor laws for specific medical situations. A mature minor is defined
as “certain older minors who have the capacity to give informed consent to do so for
care that is within the mainstream of medical practice, not high risk, and provided
in a nonnegligent manner.”
Crisis at the border
As the humanitarian crisis continues at the southern border, the AAP delegation authored
a resolution titled “Medically Appropriate Care for Asylum Seekers,” which calls for
the AMA to support “all medically-appropriate care, including vaccinations, in a patient-centered,
language, and culturally appropriate way upon presentation for asylum regardless of
country of origin.”
With unanimous support in the AMA HOD, the resolution was approved as AMA policy and
will be discussed with immigration officials and Congress.
Electronic nicotine delivery systems
Vaping is an emerging public health threat disproportionately affecting adolescents
and young adults.
With support from the AAP delegation, the AMA added ENDS to its tobacco product labeling
recommendations that call for consumer warning labels to state that nicotine is addictive.
Gun violence, another public health crisis, was addressed in a new AMA policy that
supports firearm safety features and technology to reduce accidental discharge and
eventually prevent discharge by a non-registered user of another’s personal firearm.
The policy calls for manufacturer liability for the absence of safety features on
newly manufactured firearms.
Maternal drug use
The policy “Substance Use Disorders During Pregnancy” was amended to reflect ongoing
concerns regarding universal maternal screening for drug use without a plan for consent
and follow-up. The new language opposes the removal of infants from their mothers
based solely on a single positive prenatal drug screen without further evaluation
and supports preservation of the family structure and treatment options.
A related policy was adopted that supports rooming-in for babies with neonatal abstinence
syndrome with their mothers throughout the hospital stay, as the baby’s health and
Paid time off, child care tax incentives
The AMA Board of Trustees released a report that recognizes the public health benefits
of paid sick leave and other discretionary paid time off, supports expansion of paid
parental and family leave to care for newborns and infants, and advocates for federal
tax incentives to support early child care and unpaid child care by extended family
Other pediatric issues
Other items of interest to pediatricians that are now AMA policy include:
Support for health plan coverage and payment for evidence-based treatments of autism
spectrum disorder, including applied behavioral analysis therapy.
Improving environmental safety and health code compliance in school facilities, with
standardized government oversight and regular inspections, and funding for remediation
of identified health hazards.
Requiring investigations into deaths of children in foster care.
Support of comprehensive, evidence-based care, legislation and initiatives that address
the health care needs of children of incarcerated parents.
Screening for adverse childhood experiences and support for trauma-informed care.
Support for distribution and display of human trafficking aid information in public
Dr. Barone is chair of the AAP delegation to the AMA House of Delegates.