Current Actions

  • Medicare's 49th Birthday: The importance of continuing to improve access

    July 30th, 2014 is the historic anniversary of the inception of Medicare, a public healthcare insurance program that provides coverage to over 50 million people in the United States today. Fiscal reform has made Medicare a place of interest for budget cuts. The essential good that Medicare provides to millions of Americans with life long disabilities and American seniors who may not receive healthcare through their employer by allowing them to access necessary medical services without fear of bankruptcy is something that must be recognized, in the continued support for and funding of the Medicare program to support lifelong wellness among Americans. 

  • CVS Caremark Thank You!

    In a bold, historic move, CVS/Caremark will stop selling tobacco products in their stores by October 2014. Our nation's largest drugstore chain is setting an example for pharmacies across the country to follow suit. CVS will also roll out a program this spring to help people quit smoking.

    These are strong moves for public health, backed by decades of medical evidence, and in line to begin a revolutionary change in the way we address preventive medicine and health lifestyles. We thank CVS for setting this worthy example of corporate citizenship and social responsibility.

    Send a letter to Dr. Brennan, Chief Medical Officer

  • Support newly proposed cirgarette tax increase in Chicago

    According to the U.S. Surgeon General, nearly 90% of all smokers first started smoking by the time they were 18 years old.  According the American Cancer Society, the single most effective way to keep children from smoking is to raise the price of a pack of cigarettes. In fact, for every 10 percent increase in price, youth smoking rates decline by 6.5 percent.

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposal to increase cigarette taxes by 75 cents is a win-win for Chicago. We will protect our children – and in turn use the revenue to invest in their future.

    Some critics claim that this plan will just move cigarette sales off the shelves and into the black market. Let’s be honest, too many children are already getting cigarettes from adults or store owners who are more interested in profit than in our children. But the increase in price will still help reduce the demand, as previous studies have shown. And this is just one part of a much more comprehensive effort that the Mayor is undertaking to reduce smoking among youth that includes education programs, public awareness campaigns and increased enforcement.

    This is why major anti-tobacco groups and community organizations have publicly applauded the Mayor’s efforts. Together, we will be able to reduce youth smoking, save lives, and thousands of healthcare dollars.

  • Support ACA Medicaid Expansion in Undecided States

     The implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will bring to light the much anticipated Medicaid expansion policies that serve to increase coverage to low-income families and individuals.  However, individual states will decide weather to accept federal funds for their Medicaid programs. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the cost to states would be about 0.3% over what they already spend on Medicaid. Yet, 15 states currently oppose an expansion of Medicaid.  The Medicaid expansion would reduce the number of uninsured and the amount of uncompensated care. The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) endorses the need for Medicaid expansion across all 50 states and call for state legislative bodies to expand health care coverage to the low-income and uninsured.

    http://www.advisory.com/Daily-Briefing/2012/11/09/MedicaidMap#lightbox/0/

  • Student Debt Action Alert

    Click on the title to sign the Petition!

    Tell Congress to stop rising undergraduate student loan interest rates which are set to double from the current rates after July 1st! Congress will be voting the week of July 8th to retroactively decide the fate of subsidized Stafford student loan interest rates.

    The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) is calling on Congress to uphold the current student loan interest rates for undergraduates and work toward lowering rates for medical and professional students!

    Source: Analysis by Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Fastweb.com and FinAid.org

    For more information, please check out the Washington Post article:

    www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/13/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-student-loan-rate-hike/

  • Support Healthcare Access to Immigrants

    The Senate Judicary Committee is considering S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.  A key piece of this bill is the Hirono-16 Amendment, which would expand immigrant health care access.  The amendement can be found here. The amendment strives to increase access to care for pregnant women, children, and legal immigrants allowing for access to Medicaid and federal benefits for which they would otherwise be ineligible as legal immigrants aspiring for citizenship.

    Keep the pressure on Congress to support health care access and other important allied issues!

  • Support H.R. 1843 REPEAL Act to end HIV/AIDS Discrimination

    On May 7th, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D- CA) introduced the Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal HIV Discrimination Act (REPEAL Act).

    With bipartisan support, this act serves to address the current status of criminal and civil laws that discriminate against defendants who test positive for HIV.  The bill supports modernizing our law system to address the medical and social truths of people living with HIV. Our criminal system has not caught up with modern medical practices and the REPEAL act addresses the low risk of transmission in treated patients, as well as the success of current HIV treatments in containing this manageable disease. Today, laws that treat HIV positive individuals under selective legal protocols are at odds with our current US public health goals and HIV prevention strategies.

    The bill will develop an action plan for states to update their criminal laws eliminating this discrimination and replacing current penalties with non-felony charges. In addition, the bill allows for monitoring of changes made by states regarding these laws. This act is supported by the Presidential Advisory Council's resolution on HIV decriminalization.

    Act today!  Ask your representative to endorse the REPEAL act and end HIV legal discrimination.

  • North Carolina State House Bill 693, Parental Consent and Sexual Health

    House Bill 693 was introduced to the North Carolina House in April 2013. It seeks to amend current statutes regarding the care of minors and parental consent. If passed, minors seeking treatment for any mental health issues, sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol or substance abuse, and pregnancy would be required to obtain notarized parental consent before receiving treatment. Should the bill pass, North Carolina will be the first state to deny minors to receive treatment regarding sexual health without parental consent.

    North Carolina has one of the highest rates of STDs in the nation, and adolescents are disproportionately affected. Let’s look at the chlamydia rates for example: for the entire state, the rate is 564/100,000. For the age group 15-19, the rate is nearly 6 times the state rate,  2796/100,000.a STDs also represent a major cost in the US healthcare system; in 2011, nearly $16 billion was spent on STD care.b By requiring parental consent for treatment for these diseases, many minors will choose to forego treatment. This will increase medical costs as serious adverse outcomes can occur when STDs are not treated properly and timely. This is a major public health issue, and should be addressed properly, with better sexual health education.

         a North Carolina DHHS, North Carolina HIV/STD Surveillance Report, 2011. Retrieved from http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/stds/figures.html#annual

         b CDC, STD Trends in the United States, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats11/trends-2011.pdf

  • H.R. 676 Medicare for All reintroduced in the House of Representatives!

    On Thursday February 14th,  H.R. 676 “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act” was re-introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep John Conyers Jr. (D-Michigan).  The bill creates single-payer health insurance building a publicly-financed, privately-delivered system that builds on the existing Medicare program.  It is the only bill of its kind that guarantees access to comprehensive, high quality, affordable health care for all U.S. residents. 

    After passing The Affordable Care Act, Congress’ efforts have been focused on implementing this new legislation.  The benefits of the ACA are numerous and more Americans are receiving healthcare coverage than ever before.  With an expansion of Medicaid and insurance vouchers we are increasing the safety net of coverage.  However, these benefits are modest and still leave up to 30 million Americans uninsured with health care costs continuing to rise.

    The majority of Americans support healthcare for all and 59% of physicians support national health insurance.  Join the ranks and take action in support of single-payer healthcare.

    This year 37 original co-sponsors have committed to the bill, an increase of 12 from the bill’s last introduction. Contact your Representatives now and encourage them to support health care for all as co-sponsors!

    The current list of co-sponsors for H.R. 676 as of Feb. 13, 2013:

    Nadler (NY), Schakowsky (IL), Pingree (ME), Grijalva (AZ), Ellison (MN), Hank Johnson (GA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), Takano (CA), Holmes-Norton (DC), Lofgren (CA), Rangel (NY), Moore (WI), Chu (CA), Al Green (TX), Farr (CA), McGovern (MA), Welch (VT), Clarke (NY), Lee (CA), Nolan (MN), Pocan (WI), Doyle (PA), Engel (NY), Gutierrez (IL), Frederica Wilson ( FL), Cohen (TN), Edwards (MD), McDermott (WA), Clay (MO), Huffman (CA), Roybal-Allard (CA), Cummings (MD), Yarmuth (KY), George Miller (CA), Honda (CA), Christiansen (VI), and Rush (IL).

  • National Student Petition Against Gun Violence

    The National Rifle Association (NRA) recently released its "Enemies List" which named the American Medical Student Association and numerous other health professional organizations. In light of the growing threat of gun violence in the United States, this petition seeks to embrace our NRA enemy status as health professions students and to urge the Obama Administration and Congress to adopt a comprehensive strategy to limit gun violence and protect public health. 

  • Protect GME funding!

    With the impending "fiscal cliff" impasse and looming sequester, critical federal funding for residencies (or graduate medical education - GME) through Medicare is vulnerable. As the largest funder of GME, significant cuts to Medicare support for residencies may compromise access to care for patients and exacerbate the physician shortage. It is critical that Congress and the Obama Administration avoid GME cuts in any fiscal cliff compromise. 

    Contact your legislators and the administration today and urge them to protect GME!

  • Non-Defense Discretionary Day of Action

    No More Cuts!

    On January 2, 2013, if Congress does not create a balanced bipartisan budget plan for the upcoming year sequestration will be put in action. The Budget Control Act of 2011 created sequestration in order to encourage Congress to come to an agreement on a balanced fiscal plan that reduces the deficit.  If the act is put into action, it will establish caps on funding for non-defense discretionary programs (NDD) programs.  This funding supports scientific research, education and job training, infrastructure, public safety, law enforcement, natural and cultural resources, housing, and social services.

    Sequestration will enact an automatic 8.4% cut to NDD spending across the board. These cuts will be disastrous for scientific research and funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which would force labs to close, scientists to lose their jobs, and medical advances to be stiffled.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will not be able to provide life saving immunizations to thousands of children and adults and many in the fields of health care and public health will find theselves unemployed.  These are only a few of the many disastrous effects that would ensue if the sequestration occurs.

    It is the social responsibility of our government to provide funding to the non-defense discretionary programs.  While our government made a agreement to reduce the federal deficit, they must also live up to their commitments to our families and communities.  Investment in these programs is essential to our nation's progress. There are many ways to reduce the debt and avoid the “fiscal cliff” without cutting funds for discretionary programs.

    Make your voice heard:  Support a balanced approach! No more cuts to NDD spending!

  • Tell Trade Negotiators to Put People Before Profits!

     The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is a multilateral free trade agreement being negotiated in secret between the United States and countries in the Asia-Pacific and the Americas including Canada and Mexico. According to the United States Trade Representative, this agreement will "set the standard for 21st-century trade agreements going forward". From leaked text, it is clear that the United States is pushing aggressive provisions that would limit access to life-saving generic medications through enhanced patent protections and data exclusivity favoring brand-name pharmaceutical companies. Other concerning provisions also threaten the principles of evidence-based medicine as practitioners will be forced to choose not necessarily the best treatments for their patients due to fear of patent infringement for diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical methods. Additionally, as provisions for tobacco and alcohol are not excluded from the TPP, multinational companies will potentially be allowed to override national initiatives to curb access to such products and prevent millions of disease and death that these products cause.

    If the TPP is finalized with these provisions included, millions of people around the world will not be able to access affordable medicines, receive the best treatment available, or be prevented through government initiatives from admirable goals such as becoming “smokefree” or curbing alcohol abuse.

  • Stop Monopoly Protections on Antibiotics: Call for Meaningful Steps to Tackle Antibiotic Resistance

    "A post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it. Things as common as strep throat or a child's scratched knee could once again kill."
    - Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization speaking of the growing global challenge of antibiotic resistance in Denmark in March 2012

    In order to respond to this challenge of antibiotic resistance, existing antibiotics must be conserved and novel antibiotics developed. To preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for human use, Europe banned feeding antibiotics to livestock for growth promotion in 2006. In Denmark, where such use of antibiotics had been phased out more than a decade ago, drug-resistant pathogens in livestock are down while industry output is up. Yet a bill to restrict such use here -- The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act -- languishes in the U.S. Congress.

    Instead, the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now, or GAIN, Act has piggybacked into the FDA bill reauthorizing user fees for drug approval. GAIN would provide five more years of monopoly protections for new antibiotics. Already receiving three to seven years of exclusivity, some antibiotics may receive up to 10 years of protection after market approval. This measure defies both the economics and biology of antibiotic resistance.

    These GAIN Act provisions, as written, will:

      • Further misalign economic incentives by encouraging firms to increase sales of their antibiotic under monopoly protection rather than to de-link the return on investment from volume-based sales. Other "pull mechanisms" like prizes buying out patents would have delinked the incentive given to drug firms. Extending monopoly protections does not directly address the scientific bottlenecks faced in the antibiotic pipeline.
      • Impose higher prices on consumers, but without any assurance of returns for such monopoly protections.  After all, designating “qualified infectious disease products” based on test-tube and animal studies does not mean there will be clinical benefit for humans, but waiting till phase 3 clinical trials providing such evidence would mean that firms had already committed to bringing that drug candidate to market, so an incentive would not be meaningful.
      • Risk targeting not only ineffective therapies, but also the wrong organisms. For example, the GAIN Act includes coverage of antifungal agents., which every first year medical student knows are not the same as antibacterial agents. The number of antifungal drug approvals for serious diseases has increased over the last decade, and antifungal drugs for serious diseases are prescribed for longer periods of time, often at significantly greater cost (and financial return) per patient. Incentives in the legislation should be limited to those areas in which they are needed, namely antibacterial drugs.
      • Risk bypassing important safeguards on conflict of interest in the approval process. Discussions of the FDA with “medical experts” outside the FDA should be done through the Federal Advisory Committee Act, with appropriate controls for conflicts of interest. Meetings with these experts should be conducted in an open, public forum through the FDA advisory committee process.


    Sadly, the multiple alternatives that could address this issue are nowhere to be found in this bill. Amazingly, even Richard Bergstrom, director-general of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations is quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying: "We are not convinced that patent term extension, as is essentially the US proposal, will work in practice."
    There is a cost to failing to take more meaningful steps to tackle antibiotic resistance. Already the costs of resistant infections to hospitals may reach as high as $4 billion annually. This is no time for complacency. Even with the GAIN Act's passage, this public health challenge will still remain: Tomorrow's infections will not be cured with this expensive placebo.

    We cannot afford to waste time or resources in tackling the looming challenge of antibiotic resistance: we need to ask Congress to remove the GAIN Act from the FDA user fee bill. This bill would put the wrong economic incentives in place, putting pharmaceutical company profits over our patients. Please join us in sending a signal to policymakers and the public health community that we urgently must act to tackle this public health problem now with meaningful legislation, both to conserve existing antibiotics and to overcome the scientific bottlenecks in the antibiotic R&D pipeline.

    Write your Congressman and Senators today to give us meaningful measures to respond to antibiotic resistance.

  • Ensuring Safe Schools for Our Patients

    As future physicians, our prime responsibilities are to advocate on behalf of our patients, to ensure the best possible health care outcomes, and to safe guard the well-being of individuals and communities. Yet youth, and particulary lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth, remain especially vulnerable to unique pressures that adversely affect their well-being. Recent research by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) highlights the adversities LGBT youth face in their daily lives at home, at church, and at school and underscores the numerous disparities associated with being LGB or T. 

    The HRC report does not tell us anything we did not already know. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that LGBT youth are shockingly underserved and face health risks on every front. When compared to their straight peers, LGBT youth are:

    • 5 times more likely to have been injured in a physical fight.
    • 3 times more likely to have experienced dating violence.
    • 3 times more likely to have been raped.
    • 4 times more likely to have missed school because they feared for their safety.
    • 4 times more likely to have attempted suicide.
    • 5-7 times more likely to have used heavy drugs.

    In essence, the research shows an entire generation of LGBT youth being treated as if they do not matter.

    Thankfully, research shows that programs to create safe spaces for LGBT youth can be a critical intervention. Anti-bullying and safe school programs that explicitly seek to meet the needs of LGBT young people can combat homophobia and transphobia and lead to much better health, social and educational outcomes. We know that as physicians-in-training, you are doing your part to protect your future patients. Now, let us make sure the United States Congress does the same.

    Contact Congress today. Ask your representatives to support the Safe Schools Improvement Act. As politicians wait to pass these two pieces of critical legislation, our youth across the U.S. are paying the price.

  • Stop Student Loan Interest Rate Increases!

    As physicians-in-training, we are among the 20.4 million student affected by the exploding cost of higher education in the United States. More than 7 million of us rely on Stafford loans to pay for school and will be directly affected by interest rate increases set to take effect on July 1, 2012. If Congress does not take action in the coming weeks, undergraduate and professional students will be forced into increasing debt, limiting our education and career choices. Moreover, because of the nature of medical training, these interest rate hikes have a disproportionate impact on future physicians. On July 1, 2012, the following changes will take effect:

    • Subsidized Stafford loans for graduate and professional students will be DISCONTINUED. This means that medical students will only be eligible for unsubsidized Stafford and GRADPlus loans, meaning interest accrues and capitalizes during medical school. 

    • Undergraduate subsidized Stafford loan interest rates will DOUBLE. This means that rates on these loans will increase from 3.4% to 6.8%. 

    To add insult to injury, Republicans in Congress have introduced legislation in the House (S. 2366) and Senate that would defer the undergraduate subsidized Stafford loan interest rate increases by cutting the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a critical piece of the Affordable Care Act. Democrats in the Senate introduced S. 2343, the Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Act would have prevented the undergraduate Stafford interest rate increase by closing a corporate tax loophole. Unfortunately, this bill stalled in the Senate last week and would not have addressed the elimination of subsidized Stafford loans for graduate and professional students.

    So what can you do?

    Let your members of Congress know that protecting corporations at the expense of students and prevention is not acceptable!    

  • Tell Congress to Protect Women's Healthcare!

    Recognizing the benefit of removing barriers to access to contraception, the Department of Health and Human Services released a rule requiring insurance plans to provide no-cost birth control coverage. Some conservative groups have manufactured an uproar about this, claiming that it impinges on religious freedom to require insurance to offer contraception at no cost - despite the fact that churches and houses of worship may exempt themselves from the requirement. On top of that, many states have had similar requirements for several years without incident and the inclusion of contraceptive coverage in insurance plans has been widely required since the year 2000.

    This rule does not requires anyone to use contraceptives and it does not require employers to endorse them. What it does is allows students at religious universities or employees of religiously-affiliated hospitals to exercise their own individual beliefs without the barrier of cost.

    As the graphic to the right shows (courtesy of Doctors for America), 58% of women use contraception for reasons other than family planning. Allowing employers to impose their religious beliefs on their employees prevents women and physicians from exercising their individual right to make decisions based on medical reasons and their personal beliefs.

    Some members of Congress are now attempting to overrule the administration by introducing bills that would take these decisions out of the hands of women and physicians, and instead let employers choose if women should have access to contraception. Write or call your elected officials today and tell them to protect access to preventive care for women, including no-cost contraception!

  • Defend Women's Health!


    Recognizing the benefit of removing barriers to access to contraception, the Department of Health and Human Services released a rule requiring insurance plans to provide no-cost birth control coverage. Some conservative groups have manufactured an uproar about this, claiming that it impinges on religious freedom to require insurance to offer contraception at no cost - despite the fact that churches and houses of worship may exempt themselves from the requirement. On top of that, many states have had similar requirements for several years without incident and the inclusion of contraceptive coverage in insurance plans has been widely required since the year 2000.

    This rule does not requires anyone to use contraceptives and it does not require employers to endorse them. What it does is allows students at religious universities or employees of religiously-affiliated hospitals to exercise their own individual beliefs without the barrier of cost.

    As the graphic to the right shows (courtesy of Doctors for America), 58% of women use contraception for reasons other than family planning. Allowing employers to impose their religious beliefs on their employees prevents women and physicians from exercising their individual right to make decisions based on medical reasons and their personal beliefs.

    Sign the petition below to stand up for women's health and access to preventive care - don't let a small minority limit access for everyone!

  • Save Medicare GME Funding!

    Despite the failure of the Supercommittee to come up with a deficit-reduction plan, it is imperative that we, as future physicians, continue to make our voices heard on Capitol Hill. If Congress reduces Medicare Graduate Medical Education (GME) funding, a recent survey of residency programs suggests that there will be significant reductions in the number of residency positions available with some programs indicating that they will be forced to shut down altogether. Such a dramatic reduction in training opportunities will reduce Americans’ access to care at a time when we need it most.

    Act now to preserve Medicare GME funding!

  • Health Professional Students for Health Access for the 99%

    The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) has long fought for issues affecting the group of people that has now become known as the 99% - our neighbors, our colleagues, our patients, our families, the lucky and the less fortunate, everyone who makes up the patchwork quilt of the United States. Occupy Wall Street and the coinciding solidarity Occupations around the country and the world have brought popularity to the idea we must refocus our priorities away from the 1% of the population that hold almost a quarter of our nation's wealth and instead emphasize providing fair and equitable resources to the rest of us - whether through health care, education, access to food, housing, or any other of the myriad fundamental rights that are out of reach of so many. That our priority should be the 99%.  

    AMSA lends its voice in solidarity with the Occupy Movement in pursuit of equitable policies for the 99%. We ask you to contribute your voice as well by signing the petition below. Additionally, we encourage you to share any stories you might have about your experiences with the 99% - whether it's a personal story, a story about your friends or family, or based on a patient encounter. Lastly, if you'd like us to connect you with other health professional students in your area that have also expressed an interest in joining the movement, mark the appropriate box.