• 2020 Congress of Delegates

    Delegates Reject Changes to Congress Procedures

    October 14, 2:06 pm News Staff – Despite a significant amount of discussion Oct. 12 during the virtual Congress of Delegates business session, the 2021 COD might not operate much differently from past versions of the AAFP's policy-making event.

    Process Optimization on the Mechanism of Metal Gears

    Delegates rejected a resolution brought by eight state chapters that intended to improve  operational efficiency by focusing future resolutions on members' strategic priorities. The authors pointed out that more than 80 resolutions were submitted to the 2019 COD, but less than one-fourth of those addressed one of the top six priorities identified by family physicians in that year's Member Satisfaction Survey.

    The authors said that due to the financial strain of the pandemic on members, chapters and the Academy, it would be appropriate to focus on priority issues for the foreseeable future. The resolution, which was initially discussed Oct. 4 during a virtual meeting of the Reference Committee on Organization and Finance, would have required all future resolutions to go through the following process:

    • a review of existing AAFP policy and past action by the Congress prior to submission;
    • inclusion of information indicating how the resolution aligns with the AAFP's strategic plan, as well as a chapter's strategic plan, if applicable;
    • a review of how the resolution aligns with the most recent national or chapter member needs assessment/surveys; and
    • review and support by a submitting chapter and two co-sponsor chapters.

    Additionally, chapters would have been asked to voluntarily "make every effort to limit the number of resolutions to a maximum of three, focused on key priorities."

    There was a significant amount of testimony during the reference committee hearing, with the overwhelming majority in opposition. Those opposed testified that that the proposal was too restrictive and would limit the voices of members, especially those who are underrepresented, and prevent the AAFP from being nimble and responsive to member concerns.

    The reference committee wrote in its report that although it "appreciated the intent of the resolution to encourage collaboration and foster a more efficient and effective meeting," it was "concerned about the mandatory nature of the first resolved clause and the arbitrary limit on proposed resolutions in the second."

    This year's COD was somewhat scaled back compared to an in-person event. Due to the pandemic, the AAFP Board of Directors exercised its authority under Academy bylaws not to convene an annual meeting this year. Instead, the Board called a special meeting of the Congress. By definition, special meetings are limited in scope, and limits were placed on the number and scope of resolutions in order to assist chapters in focusing only on essential work by the Congress, given the constraints of a virtual meeting.

    Meanwhile, the reference committee heard mixed testimony on a related resolution brought by the South Carolina AFP that called for the Congress to adopt standing rules for electronic meetings that would have allowed the for the "full execution of the business of the Congress of Delegates without restrictions on the rights of members to submit resolutions, the number of resolutions submitted, nor the subject matter addressed therein."

    However, an AAFP task force already has been established to review the special meeting of the COD and make recommendations to the Board on possible actions to improve or enhance the ability of the Congress to hold virtual meetings. Therefore, delegates approved a reference committee recommendation to refer the issue to the Board of Directors.

    Finally, COD seats for member constituency delegates and alternate delegates (women; minorities; international medical graduates; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender physicians and physician allies), with the exception of new physicians, were slated to be discontinued after the 2020 Congress. There was discussion during the Oct. 13 business session regarding the continued need for such representation, and delegates ultimately passed a bylaws amendment that extended the constituency seats through 2025.