February 17, 2022, 5:08 p.m. News Staff — The 2021 Congress of Delegates met virtually this month to take action on resolutions that were considered Jan. 22-23 in virtual reference committees. Of more than a dozen items brought before the Reference Committee on Health of the Public and Science, five measures were adopted: one resolution that called for optimizing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and four substitute resolutions that addressed a variety of topics relevant to patient care.
The two-day virtual reference committee meeting was part of one of two Congress sessions that were originally scheduled to be held in person. The other virtual session occurred last September, when the Congress of Delegates selected AAFP officers and directors.
Members gave testimony on resolutions assigned to the reference committees during the virtual meeting and in written testimony that was submitted Jan. 7-14. Delegates extracted certain items from reference committee reports for later discussion; items not extracted were deemed to have been acted upon by the Congress through unanimous consent on Feb. 4.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a federal program that provides nutrition benefits to low-income individuals and families, was the topic of a resolution introduced by the New York chapter.
Among other things, the resolution called on the AAFP to
The reference committee received near-unanimous testimony in support of the resolution, and reviewed recent and historical advocacy efforts from the AAFP in strong support of SNAP and other federal nutrition assistance programs. Committee members agreed that access to nutritious foods is an important social determinant of health, and that strong consumer protections are important for patients. The committee recommended that the resolution be adopted, and the resolution was subsequently adopted in its entirety.
Spurred in part by research that has shown an association between adverse childhood experiences and increased risks of chronic health conditions, mental illness and substance misuse in adulthood, the California and Utah chapters co-sponsored a resolution on screening for adverse childhood experiences.
Although there was no testimony that opposed the resolution, the reference committee acknowledged that there was insufficient evidence to recommend universal screening for ACEs; there also was concern that language in the original resolution could be misconstrued as a recommendation for mandatory screening. The reference committee recommended, and delegates subsequently adopted, a substitute resolution that called on the AAFP to adopt policy stating that the collection of ACEs screening information be subject to preexisting conditions protections for health insurance, and that ACEs scores, when used as a screening tool, not be diagnostic of the implied risk condition.
Turning to a topic that has become the subject of much debate at statehouses across the country, the Georgia chapter introduced a resolution suggesting that daylight saving time be eliminated.
While the original resolution directed the Commission on Health of the Public and Science to review the health benefits associated with eliminating daylight saving time, the reference committee observed that more study is needed on both the benefits and harms associated with DST. The reference committee recommended a substitute resolution that charged the Academy with studying those benefits and harms, and reporting the findings to the 2023 Congress of Delegates. The substitute resolution was adopted.
The Washington chapter introduced a resolution that would express the Academy’s official support for unpaid family caregivers, noting that more than 17 million Americans serve as caregivers for older adults who have health or functional limitations, and that these individuals often provide unpaid care while also working. The reference committee received considerable verbal and written testimony in favor of the resolution, with many individuals stating the importance of having more research to determine the impact of compensation programs on the health of unpaid family caregivers as well as the individuals for whom they provide care.
Ultimately, the reference committee decided that exploring the creation of a joint policy with other organizations would address the spirit of the resolution. Delegates adopted a substitute resolution that called for the AAFP to explore development of a joint policy on unpaid family caregivers with other relevant professional societies, such as the American Geriatrics Society and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.
Finally, the Oregon and Utah chapters co-sponsored a resolution on the inclusion of naloxone, a drug used to reverse opioid overdose, in emergency medical kits on domestic passenger planes, along with drugs to treat beta-blocker overdose and seizures. The chapters noted that while the Federal Aviation Administration requires that every domestic passenger airplane with a flight attendant have an emergency medical kit on board, the contents of the kit have not been updated since 2004, meaning that several easy-to-use interventions are not included.
The resolution received significant testimony in support of its adoption, with no opposition. The reference committee acknowledged the need for naloxone in first aid kits on airplanes, but also suggested revising the resolution to reflect generic drug names and removing medications such as benzodiazepines from the list of medications to be added, due to their potential for misuse. Ultimately, delegates adopted a substitute resolution that charges the Academy with asking the FAA to update kits to include naloxone, to establish education for airplane crews on the use of naloxone, and to schedule routine updates to kit contents based on professional society guidelines.