AMA 2024: Updates on Medical Practice Related Policy Adopted at the AMA 2024 Annual Meeting

( During the 2024 American Medical Association (AMA) Annual Meeting, the House of Delegates (HOD) convened to discuss, debate, and vote on healthcare policy that the organization will adopt as official directives. The HOD included a reference committee on Medical Practice related policy. Several reports and policies are of significance to urologists and urology patients. The Board of Trustees of the AMA presented a report entitled, "Transparency and Accountability of Hospitals and Hospital Systems” which called for transparent reporting of final determinations of physician complaints against hospitals and health systems through publicly accessible channels, such as the Joint Commission Quality Check reports. The AMA also announced that they plan to develop educational materials on the peer review process and advocate on behalf of doctors who have been subjected to bad-faith peer reviews. This will include information on what constitutes a bad-faith peer review and the options available to physicians navigating the peer review process.

Another important report that was adopted was entitled “Patient Medical Debt.” Through this report, the AMA endorsed innovative approaches to alleviate medical debt for patients. This includes mandating the provision of sliding-scale, interest-free payment plans before any collection or litigation actions are taken. Additionally, the report called for support of public and private initiatives aimed at eliminating medical debt, such as purchasing debt with the intention of canceling it.

Next, a policy entitled “Insurer Accountability When Prior Authorization Harms Patients” was passed by the House. This policy advocates for greater legal accountability for insurers and other payers when delays or denials of prior authorization result in patient harm. This includes prohibiting mandatory pre-dispute arbitration and limiting class action clauses in beneficiary contracts. In addition, the AMA emphasized that low-cost, noninvasive procedures meeting existing Medicare guidelines should not require prior authorization. The policy further supports allowing physicians to bill insurance companies for the full-time employee hours needed to obtain prior authorization. Lastly, it reinforces for patients' right to sue insurance carriers, precluding any restrictive clauses in signed contracts, if there is an adverse outcome due to excessive delays in care.

Prior authorization, consolidation in medicine, and improving transparency in a convoluted healthcare system remains a priority, with several other prior AMA policies being reaffirmed in those areas.

Written by: Ruchika Talwar, MD, Urologic Oncology Fellow, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, @RuchikaTalwarMD during the 2024 AMA Annual Meeting, June 7 to June 12