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College Regents address PACs, other resolutions at fall meeting

From the December 1998 ACP-ASIM Observer, copyright 1998 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

At its fall meeting, ACP-ASIM's Board of Regents considered a record number of resolutions for further study, as well as recommendations for action. The resolutions and recommendations focused on issues ranging from whether the College should establish a political action committee (PAC) to the creation of new College chapters.

The unprecedented number of resolutions came from the College's Board of Governors, which has become "much more active in its advisory role" since the merger with ASIM, according to Robert B. Copeland, MACP, Chair of the Board of Regents. Since the merger, the College has expanded the Board of Governors to include former ASIM leaders.

The Regents accepted the recommendation of the Governors on 34 of the 35 resolutions, referring them to College committees. The one resolution that was not forwarded to a committee suggested revising the College's parliamentary procedures. The Regents directed it to an ad hoc work group that will examine various methods of parliamentary procedures.

The most controversial among the 35 resolutions would establish an ACP-ASIM PAC to replace the ASIM PAC. That PAC expired last month. The resolution was referred to the College's Health and Public Policy Committee, as the Board of Governors had recommended, and to the College's Ethics and Human Rights Committee. The findings of the two committees are expected before Annual Session in April.

Other resolutions passed on to College committees included those on advanced nursing practice independence, mandatory chapter dues and the appeal of health plan denials of payment for medical care.

Other recommendations

In addition to forwarding resolutions to committees, the Board of Regents approved several recommendations made by the Board of Governors.

The Regents approved a recommendation that will create additional chapters and regions. California's four regions will be incorporated into separate chapters, Pennsylvania will add one new region and New York will add two new regions. The College, during merger talks with ASIM, had agreed to give chapters more flexibility in how they are organized.

Regents debated how the addition of new chapters and regions will affect local advocacy and educational efforts. While some worried that having multiple chapters representing a single state could hurt advocacy efforts if the various leaders put out different messages, others pointed out that smaller groups are often more effective in local grassroots efforts.

The Regents also approved a recommendation that will establish a joint task force of Regents and Governors to examine specific areas of the boards' respective responsibilities.

New policies

The Regents approved a number of new policies, including a position paper on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs. The paper, which was developed at the FDA's request, reflects the College's 1984 position that direct-to-consumer advertising undermines the physician-patient relationship. But in recognizing that direct-to-consumer drug advertising is now an entrenched marketing tool, the College advises forming new guidelines and procedures to regulate the practice and recommends that consumer drug advertising be submitted to the FDA before being released. The pharmaceutical industry should pay for the screening, according to the College.

The Regents also approved the following items:

  • A recommendation to reconcile ACP and ASIM policies on the confidentiality of medical records and private contracting.
  • Strategies from the Health and Public Policy Committee to expand access to health insurance coverage, including supporting efforts to increase enrollments in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.
  • A recommendation to form an ad hoc committee to devise strategies to simplify evaluation and management (E/M) documentation guidelines.

Clinical theme and awards

In other business, the Regents reviewed the College's first clinical leadership theme, which will focus College resources, including educational programs and chapter meetings, on an issue with significant impact on patient care in clinical practice. The first theme, emerging antibiotic resistance, was chosen by the Board of Governors and will be implemented next year.

The Board of Regents also awarded 40 masterships and voted to establish three new College awards: the Excellence in Ambulatory Teaching Award; and, to be presented for the first time in the year 2000, the Joseph F. Boyle Award for Distinguished Public Service; and the Oscar E. Edwards Memorial Award for Volunteerism and Community Service.

The last award honors Dr. Edwards, a Regent who was active in College activities until his death earlier this summer. "Among Oz's strong contributions was his interest in and support of community-based teaching, and it seems altogether appropriate to remember him for that," said Regents' chair, Dr. Copeland. "Now, as our community-based program matures, it will be good to have his name memorialized for excellence."

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