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American Medical Association's Annual Meeting, June 23-27, 2007

American Medical Association's Annual Meeting of the House of Delegates

The 2007 annual meeting of the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association (AMA) took place from June 23-27 in Chicago. The delegates discussed and voted on many important public health issues from whether there is enough evidence to label excessive use of video games as an addiction, improved access to emergency contraception and special health courts to try medical liability cases.

"It's always a value to have a few thousand of the top physician leaders from all specialties getting together to discuss these issues," said Ronald Davis, M.D., AMA president.

In particular, the group took a neutral stance on video games. "We continue to ask for parents to assume greater control over the video games that their children are using and will conduct research on what the appropriate limit would be," Davis said.

The AMA also voted to approve a resolution calling for disclosure of caloric and nutritional content on menus and on menu boards by chain restaurants. "People are eating out more and more these days and it's hard to eat a healthy diet if they don't know what is in foods they are getting," Davis said. "This information needs to be provided to customers before the purchase is made," he said.

The AMA also requested that pharmacies that stock emergency contraception use their Web site or other means to let patients know that they provide the pills.

Another hot issue at this meeting was Medicare. A new survey showed that if the scheduled cut of 10 percent goes through next year, then 60 percent of physicians will reduce the percent of Medicare patients they see. The AMA is now launching a new media campaign to educate the public about this issue.

The delegates also voted to support a re-authorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). "This federal-state program that currently provides health care to more than 6 million children is scheduled to sunset this fall and there have been hearings to reauthorize it and we strongly support re-authorization," he said.

To tackle medical liability reform, the AMA supported the use of special health courts. "We support experimentation with special health courts in some states to hear medical liability cases to replace the broken system," Davis said.

Pay-for-performance garnered a lot of discussion time. "We set forth a series of resolutions of which plans we will accept for pay-for-performance," said Kevin McKinney, M.D., of University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, an alternate delegate.

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