Moving Medicine Forward in North Carolina

Editor’s Note: The AMA requested that the following article by AMA President Peter W. Carmel, MD, be included in our weekly communication to NCMS members.

As the nation’s largest physician organization, the American Medical Association (AMA) is uniquely positioned to help physicians thrive in medical practice throughout all stages of their careers. The AMA is the only organization in the country that represents all physicians across all specialties in every state, and is the physicians’ voice as lawmakers work on issues critical to the future of medicine. In North Carolina, the AMA is proud to support and work alongside the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) on a variety of issues important to physicians, including medical liability reform. The AMA is pleased that we were able to contribute to a big win for North Carolina physicians this week as the Governor’s veto of medical liability reform legislation was successfully overridden.

America’s medical liability system is broken, failing both patients and physicians. The current system limits patient access to health care, leads to additional tests and treatments, increases health care costs and creates a communication barrier between patients and physicians. For physicians, the system leads to meritless lawsuits, increases liability premiums and causes physicians to practice defensive medicine.

While the AMA continues to pursue medical liability reform at the federal level, state liability reforms are essential to ensuring that physicians can do what they do best – care for patients. The AMA Advocacy Resource Center (ARC) works closely with state medical associations to support their state legislative efforts, and the AMA Litigation Center collaborates with state medical associations to assist them when the liability battle shifts to the courts. In North Carolina, the AMA contributed $100,000 to NCMS’ successful liability reform marketing efforts in 2011 to help fix the broken medical liability system for both patients and physicians.

The AMA is working with the NCMS on other issues in addition to medical liability reform. North Carolina has faced steep Medicare payment cuts every year since 2002 due to the failed Medicare physician payment formula, and each year the AMA has been able to secure congressional action to prevent these cuts. Most recently, at the urging of the AMA and the Federation, Congress passed legislation to provide stable Medicare payments for all of 2011. This legislation is worth an average of $29,000 to each North Carolina physician.

The AMA also offers North Carolina physicians the opportunity to participate in Webinars and seminars on topics that affect their daily practice of medicine, such as how physicians can succeed with new payment models like medical homes and accountable care organizations. Physicians can also take advantage of resources designed to help them adopt health information technology and qualify for federal incentives, like the free resource “A Clinician’s Guide to E-Prescribing.” The AMA will continue to provide resources and support to help physicians in North Carolina help their patients.


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