Tuesday, April 12, 2011

News from MSSNY House of Delegates

This past weekend was the annual MSSNY House of Delegates (HOD) meeting, at which physicians from all over the state get together to decide MSSNY policy. While the AMA-MSSNY chapter here at Buffalo focuses heavily on community service to promote health and physician awareness, these groups are at their hearts advocacy organizations. So it came as no surprise that proposals were raised on issues ranging from restricting children/adolescents from commercial tanning to how to apportion revenue raised by the society to repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Much of the political focus centered on the NYS budget that did not include medical malpractice reform. MSSNY had made a statement that it would not support the budget without these stipulations (caps on pain and suffering litigation, a lower-than-expected fund for infants born with neurological problems, etc.). The HOD was a reminder to all physicians (and future physicians) to play an active role in government by calling up and e-mailing our legislators -- just because we aren't politicians doesn't mean these issues don't affect us!

As far as new policy in the HOD went, the Medical Student Section particularly came out on top. We sponsored four resolutions, all of which were passed by the voting body of MSSNY, the House of Delegates. The proposals were:

1) Promoting financial aid opportunities for NYS medical students. (The importance of this one is fairly obvious.)

2) Expanding graduate medical education (GME) funding for residency spots. The problem is that medical schools keep increasing class sizes and new medical schools are opening, but there are no new residency spots! There is currently a cap on GME funding/new residency spots, and now MSSNY has committed itself to advocate for making sure all of these new doctors will have the appropriate training upon graduation.

3) Expanding MSSNY’s physician database to include an opt-in mentorship program based on race/ethnicity, LGBT status, etc. Based on 2008 data, only 10% of NYS physicians identify as underrepresented minorities, and only about 20% of US medical students do the same.

4) Giving preference to US medical students over offshore students in nearby clerkship sites. This is a big problem in NYC, where many local students are excluded from NYC clerkship rotations due to Caribbean medical schools effectively buying out the clerkship positions.

Additionally, the HOD spent quite a while battling out its position on PPACA. A compromise was reached, and MSSNY’s position is now that it has a specific set of grievances against the bill and supports new legislation to improve any shortcomings, but MSSNY is not 100% against this health care reform.

Overall, it was a very exciting weekend. If anyone is interested in getting involved in the more political side of AMA-MSSNY, contact our VP of Policy/Legislation, Lauren Gluck at lgluck01@gmail.com.

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