AMA 2024: Updates on Public Health Related Policy Adopted at the AMA 2024 Annual Meeting

( In June 2024, the House of Delegates (HOD) gathered at the American Medical Association (AMA) Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL. During this assembly, members of the legislative body engaged in discussions, debates, and voting to determine the healthcare policies that would be adopted as official directives. Numerous new policies pertaining to public health were reviewed and approved -- herein, we review some of the new policy related to the practice of urology.

Recently, there has been an increased focus on sustainability and how surgical practices contribute to the climate crisis. Accordingly, a new policy entitled “Addressing the Health Sector’s Contributions to the Climate Crisis” was passed by the HOD. The new AMA policy centers on the importance of maintaining clinical quality and safety while implementing strategies to reduce greenhouse gases and waste. It acknowledges the significant contribution of animal-based agriculture to greenhouse gas emissions and supports the promotion of plant-based menu options in hospital food services for both health and environmental reasons. The policy also calls for transparency from health systems regarding their greenhouse gas emissions, opposing any misleading claims about their environmental impact. Additionally, the AMA opposes corporate "greenwashing" and supports the development of locally managed electrical microgrids for hospitals and healthcare facilities to reduce reliance on diesel generators during emergencies. This initiative includes supporting grants to independent practices for this development. The policy further advocates for the use of virtual healthcare, with reasonable reimbursement, to reduce healthcare’s carbon footprint. Financial assistance for healthcare entities, including community health centers and small to medium-sized practices, is also supported to help them transition to environmentally sustainable operations.

The HOD also debated a policy calling for expanded HPV vaccination for healthcare workers, such as urologists, who treat HPV associated disorders. Although the initial proposed resolution supported vaccination of healthcare workers over age 45 years who are exposed to HPV at work, after deliberation and testimony, a policy differing from the original submitted language was approved. This new policy supports healthcare workers (HCWs) who may be exposed to HPV during their clinical duties and strongly encourages the use of masks, preferably N-95. The policy also calls for collaboration with relevant stakeholders to ensure that the HPV vaccine is offered to all HCWs at risk of exposure to HPV oncogenic material at no or minimal cost.

Lastly, the rural health access crisis, very pertinent to urology, was also the focus on HOD deliberations. A new policy entitled “Improving Healthcare for Minority Communities in Rural Areas” was adopted. The new AMA policy encourages promoting health, access to care, and disease prevention through educational efforts and publications specifically tailored to rural minority communities. It also urges federal, state, and local governments to address the unique health and health-related needs of rural minorities to improve their quality of life. Lastly, it calls for the collection of vital statistics and other relevant demographic data for rural minorities and emphasizes the importance of rural minority health to various organizations.

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