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American Medical Association opposes Medicaid funding caps, adopts new policies

The group also adopted policies on other emerging healthcare topics, such as extending CMS' locum tenens 60-day limit.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

The American Medical Association's House of Delegates voted to adopt new policies during the national physician organization's annual meeting this week, and in the process reaffirmed its opposition to caps on Medicaid funding, eyeing a possible healthcare overhaul by Congress and the Trump administration.

Carl A. Sirio, MD, said in a statement that capping Medicaid funding would be "disastrous" for patients because it would limit medical responses to unforeseen events and medical innovations.

"Physicians and states need the flexibility to respond," he said. "Caps would threaten coverage for vulnerable populations -- especially children and those in need of a safety net -- a point we have made repeatedly to policymakers in Washington."

[Also: Oncologist Barbara McAneny voted AMA president-elect]

The AMA's House of Delegates also adopted policies on other emerging healthcare topics, such as extending the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid's locum tenens 60-day limit. When absent for extended periods of time, physicians often rely on substitute physicians -- or locum tenens -- to take over their professional practice. But under the CMS regulations, physicians can bill locum tenens for no more than 60 days. That's not enough, according to the AMA.

That's why the group is requesting that CMS create an exception process to the 60-day locum tenens limit, so that physicians facing illnesses, family emergencies or prolonged absences after childbirth can take the time off they need.

Promoting greater integrated healthcare leadership was also on the AMA's docket. The organization adopted a directive to promote physicians as board members for healthcare organizations, including acute care organizations, insurance companies, medical device manufacturers and health technology corporations.

[Also: CMS releases map showing 47 counties without an insurer in the exchange market]

The AMA cited evidence that the participation of physicians in the governance of healthcare organizations is often associated with better business performance, clinical quality and social outcomes.

The AMA's House of Delegates is a policy-making body bringing together a group of physicians, medical students and residents representing every state and medical field. Delegates work in a democratic process to create a national physician consensus on emerging issues in public health, science, ethics, business and government.

Twitter: @JELagasse

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