This past weekend, the AOA House of Delegates met to create important AOA policies on diverse issues such as physician burnout, collective bargaining and concussion treatment. Here’s a rundown of some of the most notable resolutions passed:
1. Concussion safety: The AOA House passed a policy paper that provides guidelines on concussion evaluation, treatment and return-to-play/return-to-learn protocols. This evidence-based information will assist states when they are updating their concussion and return-to-play laws. Since 2009, every state has passed legislation on concussion safety, but the laws vary widely from state to state.
2. Physician burnout and wellness: With three resolutions, the AOA House supported devoting more resources to physician wellness and mental health. The first calls on the AOA to develop a Mental Health Task Force in which physicians, medical students and residents, among others, will collaborate with state and specialty societies and other affiliates on relevant mental health initiatives. Another resolution directs the AOA to work with state affiliates to develop programs, potentially for CME credit, to help physicians manage stress, overcome burnout and understand how and when to seek professional help.
A third resolution calls for the AOA to create a task force to identify the needs of physicians and medical students at risk for suicide and make recommendations on the best ways to help them and raise awareness of the issue.
3. Medical student finances: The AOA encourages residency program directors to evaluate the implementation of teleconferencing for graduate medical education (GME) interviews because remote interviews would ease the financial burden on medical students. Another resolution the House passed directs the AOA to advocate for affordable health care for osteopathic medical students while they are in medical school.
4. Student loans: The AOA House supports advocating for federal legislation that would allow for $50,000 of professional student loan payments per year to be tax-deductible regardless of modified adjusted gross income.
5. GME funding: The AOA House also passed an updated resolution on GME funding which states the following:
- AOA opposition to GME funding cuts for DO and MD programs while other professions’ programs receive funding increases.
- AOA support for the distribution of federal funds for GME in a way that prioritizes areas most in need of DO and MD programs.
- AOA support for all payers for health care funding the costs of GME.
6. Substance abuse disorders: The AOA House supports advocating for medication-assisted treatment for substance abuse disorders as the most clinically effective intervention. Medication-assisted treatment involves therapy and medications that lessen cravings and block the effects of the substance being abused.
7. Physician collective bargaining: The House passed a resolution directing the AOA to establish a task force to look into the process of creating an independent collective bargaining unit for physicians and review its potential impact at the state and national level.
8. Eliminating abuse of the ACA grace period: Insurance companies should be required to pay providers for services provided during the Affordable Care Act’s grace period, the AOA’s House of Delegates voted. Patients who fall behind on premiums have a 90-day grace period in which to catch up, but some may only pay their monthly premium every two or three months, and some insurance companies do not reimburse physicians for care provided to patients who are behind on payments.
9. Physician-led team-based care: The AOA supports payment models that incentivize high-quality, coordinated care and enable physicians to cover associated costs, both in the MACRA Medicare payment system and among private health insurers.
More to come
Stay tuned for more in-depth AOA Annual Meeting coverage coming soon.