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Wednesday Sep 24, 2014

Lively Debate, Election of New Leaders Await at Congress of Delegates

The deadline for AAFP chapters to submit resolutions to the Congress of Delegates passed this weekend, and more than four dozen items will be up for debate when the Congress meets Oct. 20-22 in Washington.

© 2014 Marketing Images/AAFP
The AAFP's Congress of Delegates will meet Oct. 20-22 in Washington. Here I am addressing the 2013 Congress in San Diego.

The resolutions reflect the breadth of family medicine and the passion of our members, covering a variety of issues -- from clinical topics (contraception, end-of-life care, sterilization, tobacco and vaccinations, to name a few) to physician payment, scope of practice and more.

With more than 115,900 members, the AAFP represents a diverse group of physicians from many different backgrounds, practice types and political affiliations. Our members are passionate about numerous issues, and sometimes those passions collide.

For example, the Minnesota AFP has submitted a resolution urging the Academy to "participate in national deliberations and discussions pertaining to single-payer financing systems for health care reform."

The prospect of supporting a single-payer system likely would thrill some delegates and leave others itching for a fight. But spirited debate is what makes the Congress interesting, and we will no doubt hear from members with widely divergent views

Each chapter can send two delegates and two alternate delegates to the Congress. Delegates typically are individuals who have played leadership roles in their chapters. It's worth noting, however, that although only delegates may vote during the Congress business sessions, any Academy member present may speak and give testimony during the reference committee hearings.

A resolution from the Texas chapter seeks to examine the Congress' senatorial makeup and consider making the Academy's ultimate policymaking body one "based on limited proportional representation." Such a move would allow more opportunities for member participation in big states such as Texas, where physicians now often have to wait years for leadership opportunities. However, one might expect that delegates from smaller states will offer some impassioned testimony on this resolution.

Delegates also will choose a president-elect, other officers and a new class of Board directors. Unlike most years, when three new directors are chosen to serve three-year terms, delegates to the 2014 Congress will select four directors from a field of six candidates. The candidate receiving the fourth-most votes will serve a one-year term to fill the spot vacated by Clif Knight M.D., who resigned his position on the board earlier this year to become the AAFP's vice president for education.

For those who can't join us in Washington, you can follow the business sessions of the Congress via streaming video on aafp.org. More details about that will be published in AAFP News before the Congress convenes.

John Meigs, M.D., is speaker of the Congress of Delegates, the policymaking body of the AAFP.

Posted at 11:10AM Sep 24, 2014 by John Meigs, M.D.

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