AMSA’s Top Advocacy Stories from 2015
It’s been a busy year–here’s to even more advocacy and activism in 2016!
Supporting Legislation to Combat the Public Health Threat of Antimicrobial Resistance
In the winter of 2015 AMSA joined fellow advocates with Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) and National Physician’s Alliance (NPA) in cheering the introduction of the Helping Effective Antibiotics Last (HEAL) Act that would help combat the public health threat of antimicrobial resistance. AMSA advocates gathered on the hill on AMSA’s Lobby Day to meet with their members of congress to urge them to support the bill which will incentivize the development of new antibiotics that address unmet health needs, but also prevent resistance to existing drugs from emerging.
Calling out Incorrect Representation of AMSA Conflict of Interest Work
In June of 2015, AMSA responded to a series of conflict of interest pieces published in the NEJM which cited AMSA’s previous work on the scorecard (part of AMSA’s Just Medicine campaign) as simply the “creation of a ‘pharma-free’ environment”. AMSA’s response was to clarify and stand firm in our commitment to “patient-centered, evidence-based clinical practice, medical education and research.”
Celebrating two historic Supreme Court Decisions
AMSA joined advocates across the country to celebrate two Supreme Court decisions that will further health access and equality across the country. The King V Burwell decision protected more than 6 million low- and middle-income Americans with their 6-3 ruling that the tax credits for individuals enrolled through federal exchanges are permitted. The Obergefell v. Hodges decision ruled that, across the nation, same-sex couples will be allowed to marry regardless of where they live.
Advocating for Open Access
The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act is a bipartisan bill introduced in both the house and senate that would ensure that all citizens have access to the results of federally funded research for which their tax dollars pay. This increased access to information will result in for greater scientific discovery, promote innovation, generate jobs and allow for economic growth. Students across the country made call ins and arranged legislative visits to advocate for FASTR this late summer and early fall. Advocacy for this bill is ongoing as it has passed committee in the Senate and is in committee in the House.
For more information visit the Scholarly Publishing and Research Coalition (SPARC) website
Joining the Call for Medicare for All–10/1
AMSA members across the country joined with Students for a National Health Program (SNaP), Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), and many other healthcare orgs across the nation on 10/1 for a nationwide day of action and call for Medicare for All.
Visit AMSA’s Health Care For All page to find out more about AMSA’s campaigns for universal coverage.
Continuing the Fight to End AIDS
This year members and chapters across the country banded together in the continuing push for sufficient funding to End the AIDS Epidemic. Students urged members of Congress to restore $300 million in essential funds through lobby meetings, call-ins, and demonstrations. In addition, many students worked closely with partner organizations HealthGAP and Partners in Health Engage to bird-dog candidates on the campaign trail to get commitments on funding. Unfortunately, the $300 million was not restored and funding for global AIDS remained flat. But AMSA will be continue to push to sufficient funds in the coming year.
Visit AMSA’s AIDS Advocacy Network Webpage for more information about how to get involved.
Lifting the Ban on Funding for Syringe Exchange Programs
Since the Reagan administration there has been a ban on federal funding for fantastically successful and cost-effective harm reduction measures–syringe exchange programs. These programs decrease transmission of disease related to injection drug use like HIV and Hep C in addition to increasing public safety by removing needles from public areas. This year many AMSA advocates worked alongside HIV/AIDS partners like Amfar and AIDS United to successfully include a partial lift on the ban in this year’s appropriations package.
Fighting Gigantic Trade Deals that Harm Access to Medicines and Public Health
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a colossus of a trade agreement between the US and eleven other countries covering over 40% of the world’s GDP. The agreement covers everything from the internet to drug prices the latter of which causes particular concern for those who care about access to medicines around the world. AMSA students took part in a number of call-ins, demonstrations, and legislative meetings both to oppose Fast Track–a measure that will speed the agreement through Congress–and the TPP itself. The agreement was finally signed by all of the member countries this fall and has the potential to move to Congress as soon as February 4th. Keep your eyes out for future work on the TPP!
Lifting the Ban on CDC Funding for Gun Violence Research
AMSA joined with many other healthcare professional and advocacy groups including Doctors For America and National Physician’s Alliance to make calls and sign a petition to lift the ban on CDC funding for research related to gun violence. The ban was written into the federal appropriations legislation nearly 20 years ago. Despite significant pushback from healthcare groups and even an admission by the legislation’s original author to lift the ban, it remains in place this year. The call to lift the ban will continue into next year’s appropriations process.
Supporting Access to Health Services for Women
AMSA remains firm in its support for Planned Parenthood and any other groups providing access to safe abortion services for women. AMSA signed multiple letters to Congress to this effect this fall when Planned Parenthood and primary care services for thousands of women across the US were under attack. We will continue to fight attacks against women’s healthcare this year and beyond.
Speaking up for Residents and Speaking Out Against Unethical Trials
AMSA joined with Public Citizen this year to condemn the ACGME for waiving resident duty hours in two trials concerning resident work hours, FIRST and iCOMPARE. Duty hours restrictions were lifted for randomly assigned groups of residents enrolled in the study without consent. Patient consent at hospitals where the residents train was also not required. AMSA continues to stand up for the protection of residents and patients and calls on the ACGME to rescind its waivers for the trials and on the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) to immediately suspend and launch investigations of the trials.