October 19, 2020, 6:21 pm News Staff – The AAFP members who logged into virtual sessions for the 2020 Congress of Delegates’ Advocacy Reference Committee approached the issue of health care coverage with vigorous discussion before a majority voted that the 2018 Congress of Delegates had already done the work.
The topic was a quartet of coverage-related resolutions taken up by the committee that included calls for the Academy to focus on a publicly funded, single-payer system and to push for policy that divorces coverage from employment.
During the committee hearing on Oct. 4 and at the Congress of Delegates on Oct. 13, several members said that existing Academy policy covers the topic. Some also suggested that further action would impose inadvisable limits on the Academy’s lobbying, particularly on the eve of a consequential Election Day.
These comments echoed the committee’s recommendations, which delegates ultimately followed.
The resolution calling for the AAFP to back health care coverage not linked to employment was reaffirmed by delegates as current policy, as was a related resolution saying the Academy should “align itself with the American College of Physicians in support of a single-payer system or a regulated system that includes a public option.”
The other two resolutions in that agenda item — one submitted by the New York chapter, titled “Single Payer/Improved Medicare for All — Now,” and one from the Colorado chapter saying the Academy should “conclude that a publicly funded universal health care system is the optimal system among those studied by the AAFP” — were not adopted.
Hundreds of participants dialed into the Academy’s first all-virtual Congress of Delegates, where there were no appreciable technical glitches, discussion was no less robust for the change of venue, and consensus arrived swiftly for most of the advocacy resolutions.
A resolution introduced by the Oregon chapter calling for the AAFP to support the deregulation of buprenorphine prescribing — specifically, by removing the X waiver mandated by the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 — earned overwhelming support.
Some delegates testified that treatment delays caused by the waiver process had led to devastating outcomes for their patients. The resolution was adopted in amended form to include “other associated regulations” within the 2000 legislation.
Testimony also was overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution, introduced by the New Jersey chapter, titled “Mandatory Vaccine Notification Communication Between Pharmacies and Primary Cary Physicians.”
As submitted, the resolution excluded immunization against influenza, prompting some members to offer anecdotal evidence that better coordination is needed for flu shots as well as other vaccines.
Delegates voted to adopt a substitute resolution that calls for all vaccines for patients “administered by groups other than their primary clinic (including pharmacies, hospitals, urgent care providers and other vaccine providers)” to be reported to a patient’s primary care physician “by digital interface, fax/secure message or any available vaccine registry/database.”
Also adopted was a substitute version of a resolution from the South Carolina chapter titled simply “Preserving Public Trust in Vaccines.” That final resolution boils the original’s five clauses — most of which, the committee noted, are reflected in AAFP work already underway — to a straightforward call for Academy advocacy in favor of making COVID-19 vaccines widely available upon the FDA’s completion of safety and efficacy data from completed phase 3 clinical trials.
Complementing these was a vaccine-related resolution, this one from the Pennsylvania chapter, geared toward the pandemic. Without limiting the scope to COVID-19, it said that the AAFP should work with multiple stakeholders toward a coordinated, evidence-based response to “any public health crisis.”
Noting that the Academy has responded to this year’s crisis in precisely this fashion, the committee referred this resolution to the Board of Directors.