AMA releases flurry of policies

November 18, 2020
Keith A. Reynolds

The policies touch on a number of topics including social determinants of health, high deductible health plans, and uninsured patients.

The American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates (HOD) has approved a raft of policy proposals.

In a series of news release issued Nov. 17, the HOD issued policies on topics ranging social determinants of health to national drug shortages.

The policies aimed at addressing social determinants of health as part of health insurance coverage builds on the AMA’s pursuit of greater health equity by identifying and eliminating inequities through advocacy, community leadership, and education, a news release says.

These policies include:

  • Encouraging new and continued partnership among all levels of government, the private sector, philanthropic organizations, and community- and faith-based organizations to address non-medical health needs and social determinants
  • Supporting the continued efforts of public and private health plans to address social determinants of health in insurance benefit designs
  • Encouraging public and private health plans to examine the implicit bias and the role racism and social determinants

Another news release focuses on a policy aimed at altering the mounting financial and clinical barriers facing patients with high-deductible health plans.

“The pandemic has prominently displayed the critical barriers posed by underinsurance, with many health plans not providing affordable coverage for services to treat chronic conditions and COVID-19- related illness,” AMA Board Member Mario E. Motta, MD, says in the release. “The new policy encourages research and advocacy to promote innovative health plan designs that respect patients’ unique health care needs. Moreover, to ensure that innovative health plans are likely to achieve their goals of enhanced access to affordable care, the new policy encourages active collaboration among organized medicine and payers during plan development.”

The policy encourages employers to take certain actions to ease these burdens. These include:

  • Provide education to help patients make good use of their benefits
  • Take steps to collaborate with their employees to understand employees’ insurance helps and needs
  • Tailor their benefit designs to the insurance preferences and needs of their employees and dependents

The AMA also turned their attention to the uninsured and adopted principles supporting public policy approaches which could expand insurance coverage, including to those who have lost their coverage due to COVID-19, another news release says.

One of the key actions the AMA supported is auto-enrollment for eligible individuals into Medicaid/CHIP or zero-premium ACA marketplace coverage. The organization also adopted safeguards to guide the development of proposals which would establish a public option, according to the release.

“A public option should not be seen as a panacea to cover the uninsured. It should not be used to replace private insurance; rather it can be used to maximize competition. With appropriate guardrails, the AMA will examine proposals that would provide additional coverage options to our patients,” AMA President Susan R. Bailey, MD, says in the release.

Other policies released by the AMA include:

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