Archive for Official Statement

Medical Association Supports Continued Funding for Maternal Death Investigations

Medical Association Supports Continued Funding for Maternal Death Investigations

‘Shocking’ Nearly 70% of Deaths Are Preventable, Experts Say      

MONTGOMERY – The Medical Association of the State of Alabama today joined Alabama legislators in calling for continued state funding to investigate why Alabama mothers die from childbirth and pregnancy complications at more than double the rate of women nationally.

The funding for this research, which was first appropriated by Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Legislature just last year, enables the Alabama Maternal Mortality Review Committee (AL-MMRC) to pay for additional autopsies and costs associated with compiling case files and reviewing medical records of Alabama mothers who died up to a year after giving birth. While the AL-MMRC was launched in 2018, it relied solely on the work of volunteers to undertake such reviews until last year.

Appearing at a press conference in Montgomery today, Aruna Arora, MD, MPH, President of the Medical Association, applauded Senator Linda Coleman-Madison for sponsoring a resolution spotlighting the findings of the first AL-MMRC report and acknowledging continued funding of the program is critical to saving Alabama mothers.

“The recent report of the Maternal Mortality Review Committee was both shocking and informative,” said Dr. Arora. “That nearly 70 percent of the deaths could have possibly been prevented highlights the inequities of our current health system and underscores the need for the continued annual review to determine why these high numbers of deaths are occurring. Funding the review committee provides invaluable insight into the deaths of Alabama mothers and will enable the experts to develop specific strategies to save lives in the future.”

For its initial report, the AL-MMRC undertook a review of all maternal deaths in the state from 2016. Highlights from that report include:

  • 36 mothers lost their lives within one year of the end of pregnancy and 36 percent of those deaths were directly related to the pregnancy.
  • Nearly 70 percent of deaths were determined to be preventable.
  • Mental health and substance use disorders were identified as key contributors in almost 50 percent of deaths.
  • 67 percent of deaths occurred 43 to 365 days after the end of pregnancy.

Additionally, the AL-MMRC also made more than 100 recommendations to improve maternal health. Chief among those recommendations is for the state to expand Medicaid. 

“Right now, amid a global pandemic, affordable and accessible health care is more important than ever,” continued Dr. Arora. “Just last week, new research found the risk of maternal mortality to be 22 times higher in women who tested positive for COVID-19 during pregnancy. Thus, with other research showing reduced maternal mortality rates and positive maternal health outcomes in states that expanded Medicaid, the decision to expand here in Alabama is abundantly clear.”

The Medical Association appreciates Governor Ivey’s recommendation for initial funding for the review committee for 2020-21 as well as the continued efforts from legislative leaders like Senator Coleman-Madison, Rep. Laura Hall, and others.                                                                                 

The Medical Association also launched an online social media effort aimed at increasing awareness of maternal health needs with #SaveAlMoms and a website:  www.alabamamedicine.org/SaveAlMoms/.


Posted in: Advocacy, Members, Official Statement

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Partnering with ALAHA to Celebrate 2021 Doctors’ Day

Partnering with ALAHA to Celebrate 2021 Doctors’ Day

Today is a day set aside nationwide to honor the physicians who care for us every day of the year.  Doctors’ Day was established on March 30 in 1934, and later in 1991, President George H.W. Bush proclaimed National Doctors’ Day as a time for the nation to celebrate the dedication and leadership of physicians.  In Alabama, today is a time to formally recognize our state’s nearly 17,000 licensed physicians serving millions of residents through private practice, in hospitals, in research, and in other health care facilities.

“Physicians often lead their patients and communities through some of life’s most challenging moments and the past year has proved to be even more demanding,” said John S. Meigs, Jr., MD, President of the Medical Association. “On behalf of the Medical Association, I wanted to express my appreciation for the thousands of physicians throughout Alabama who have sacrificed so much during the COVID-19 pandemic. A simple ‘thank you’ cannot convey the gratitude that we feel towards Alabama’s healthcare providers. Physicians have been and continue to be on the front lines and have demonstrated unparalleled selflessness, dedication, and courage. This pandemic has exposed shortcomings in our healthcare system but has also highlighted many opportunities for growth. I am confident that as we enter a new year, we can work together to reach a new normal. If you want to know how you can thank your physician, continue to wear your mask, socially distance, and use other precautionary measures.”

“Healthcare today is more complex than ever,” said Alabama Hospital Association President, Dr. Don Williamson, MD. “Even without the disruption of a global pandemic, physicians are faced with more challenges and pressure than ever before. What our healthcare professionals have endured over the past year has been monumental, and we could never adequately express how thankful we are for them. Physicians have faced a giant this year, and countless Alabamians are still with us today because of the dedication, selflessness, and expertise of a local physician. While we can end the month of March 2021 with a much more positive outlook than March 2020, let’s not forget that there is still much risk for our healthcare workers. Please continue to wear a mask and use precautions. It’s the right and responsible thing to do.”

We all understand the critical role our doctors and other health professionals have played in leading us through this past year. Help us thank our doctors today for what they do for the health of all Alabamians!

Posted in: Members, Official Statement

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Report: 34 Percent Decline in Opioid Prescribing since 2014

Report: 34 Percent Decline in Opioid Prescribing since 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Mark Jackson, Executive Director (334) 954-2500

CONTACT: Mallory Camerio, Director of Communications (334) 954-2580

Report: 34 Percent Decline in Opioid Prescribing since 2014

According to a new report released by the American Medical Association, Alabama physicians have reduced opioid prescribing by 34.4% since 2014, increased the use of state prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) and decreased the total morphine milligram equivalents by 46.6% since 2014. Our physicians also have continued to educate themselves on safe prescribing, pain management and recognizing signs of addiction. 

“Everyone can agree there is no quick fix to the country’s opioid epidemic. In Alabama, our physicians took a leadership role many years ago by taking a hard look at where we were and where we needed to be,” said Mark Jackson, executive director of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama. “As an association, we created the first educational program to train our physicians, and we passed legislation to reduce prescription drug abuse and diversion. Even though Alabama has come a long way in the fight against opioids, we have a long way yet to go.”

Key points from the 2020 report:

  • Opioid prescribing decreases for the sixth year in a row. Between 2013 and 2019, the number of opioid prescriptions decreased by more than 90 million — a 37.1 percent decrease nationally.
  • Total morphine milligram equivalents has decreased by 46.6% since 2014 in Alabama.
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) registrations and use continue to increase. In 2019, health care professionals in Alabama accessed state PDMPs more than 4 million times – a 20 percent increase from 2018. More than 22,500 physicians and other health care professionals are registered to use state PDMPs.
  • The Medical Association was one of the first states to offer an opioid prescribing education course in the country in 2009. The main course is offered three times each year and has reached more than 5,000 prescribers to date.
  • Access to naloxone increasing. More than 1 million naloxone prescriptions were dispensed in 2019—nearly double the amount in 2018, and a 649 percent increase from 2017. In 2016 the Medical Association helped pass legislation in Alabama authorizing the State Health Officer to sign a standing order to allow Alabama’s pharmacists to dispense naloxone to people in a position to assist others at risk of an overdose as well as to an individual at risk of experiencing an opiate-related overdose.

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Posted in: Official Statement, Opioid

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Statement from the Medical Association on Statewide Mask Requirement

Statement from the Medical Association on Statewide Mask Requirement

The number of COVID-19 cases and deaths throughout the state have been increasing at a dangerous rate. We now have over 58,225 cases and approximately 1,183 deaths from COVID-19 in our state. With physicians on the front lines of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Medical Association of Alabama, the state’s largest professional organization of physicians, announced their support of Governor Kay Ivey’s new amended ‘Safer at Home’ order.

The order states that a face covering must be worn in public. More specifically, it stipulates masks must be worn when within 6 feet of a person from another household. The order will go into effect Thursday, July 16 and will remain in effect until July 31.

“For a contagious respiratory infection for which we have no treatment, masking, isolation and social distancing are our only effective means to slow down the spread of this disease and save lives,” said Dr. Meigs. “Governor Ivey and State Health Officer, Dr. Scott Harris, are to be commended for having the courage to make this difficult decision and to do what is right, what was needed, in the face of the political pressure against these measures.”

“We want the economy open. We want businesses open. We want schools open. The best way to do this is to wash your hands, socially distance, and wear a mask/face covering over the mouth and nose to lower the spread of droplets that contain the virus,” said Dr. Arora. “The evidence is clear – masks and face coverings significantly reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 and we believe that we should take care of ourselves as a responsible community.”

Until we have a vaccine and effective treatments for COVID-19, our only option is to wear a mask, exercise safe social distancing, and wash your hands/use hand sanitizer regularly. We all have a role to play in stopping the spread of COVID-19. We all have the power to protect ourselves, our fellow Alabamians, and the most vulnerable among us. Be informed, stay healthy, and please wear your mask.

John S. Meigs, MD

Medical Association President

Centreville, Alabama

Aruna Arora, MD

Medical Association President-Elect

Huntsville, Alabama

Posted in: Coronavirus, Official Statement

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Statement in response to Ivey’s Safer at Home order

Statement in response to Ivey’s Safer at Home order

Statement applauding the decision to continue the Safer at Home Order and encouraging increased safety precautions from citizens

Alabama’s healthcare provider organizations were pleased to see the Safer at Home order extended this morning and to hear from local and state leaders about the importance of staying the course on the precautions being taken.

While all of us are suffering from quarantine and mask fatigue, now is not the time to let up. Over the past week, Alabama has added almost 6000 new COVID-19 cases, the highest 7-day total during the course of the pandemic. The number of hospitalizations are increasing, and the state has now had more than 900 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Things are not getting better. They are getting worse.

Physicians, hospitals, nursing homes and other providers have treated those with the virus while continuing to provide care to other non-COVID patients who need their help. They have worked long hours and remain dedicated to their mission of healing.

If you want to find a way to thank these selfless men and women, then do your part to stop the community spread of this disease. It’s as easy as these four steps:

· Stay at home as much as possible.

· Wear a mask when you leave your house.

· Wash your hands frequently.

· Keep at least six feet of distance between yourself and others, avoiding crowds at all costs.

We would also urge local governments in counties with rising numbers of cases to consider mask ordinances, and we thank those leaders who have already taken action to require masking.

Basically, as the Governor and others noted in the news conference this morning, it all boils down to using our common sense. The virus is real; it’s serious, and it will take all of us doing our part to control its spread.

Stated on behalf of the Alabama Hospital Association, the Medical Association of the State of Alabama and the Alabama Nursing Home Association

Posted in: Coronavirus, Official Statement

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President’s Statement on Coronavirus COVID-19

President’s Statement on Coronavirus COVID-19

We now have thirty-two confirmed cases of the new coronavirus infection in Alabama.  We have all seen how this new virus has spread around the world from its beginning in China just a few months ago.  The World Health Organization has now classified this as a pandemic.  However, please remember that compared to the flu, the number of cases in Alabama, in this country and worldwide are still quite small.  I am hopeful that folks will not panic and let common sense dictate their response to this situation.  Our state and federal governments, the Alabama Department of Public Health, the Medical Association and others are all working to implement reasonable responses to this evolving situation.  Everyone’s health and safety is our primary concern.

Some important things to remember:

  1.  Over 90% of the cases of COVID-19 have been mild and resemble the common cold.
  2. Half of the people worldwide that have contracted this disease have now completely recovered.
  3. Folks most at risk for this disease include the elderly and especially those with underlying medical conditions such as COPD, diabetes, heart disease or cancer.
  4. Not everyone needs to be tested for the coronavirus, those needing to be tested need to meet certain criteria that suggest they may be at risk for this disease.

How can you best protect yourself and avoid becoming ill from the coronavirus:

  1. If you are sick, stay home.  If you have a cough and fever, stay home.
  2. If you are sick, call your family physician or primary care provider and let them help you determine if you need to be tested or seen. 
  3. During any kind of pandemic, you should avoid going to the Emergency Room or the Doctors’ Office for routine things that could be handled after the pandemic passes.  Remember: that is where the sick folks are and that is who you need to avoid.
  4. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.  Hand sanitizers should only be used when soap and water are not available.
  5. Cover your cough, cough into your elbow.
  6. Keep your hands away from your face.
  7. Avoid large crowds and crowded spaces.  Social distancing, which means staying at least 6 feet from the nearest person, is the best way to avoid coming in contact with this and other infectious diseases.

We need to all work together to meet the challenge of this new coronavirus disease.  Avoiding panic and using good common sense measures can help us all stay safe and healthy.

John S. Meigs, MD, FAAFP

President, Medical Association of the State of Alabama

Posted in: Leadership, Members, Official Statement

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Alabama Medicine Magazine Receives International Award

Alabama Medicine Magazine Receives International Award

apex award winnerAlabama Medicine magazine has received the 2017 APEX Award for Publication Excellence. APEX 2017 is the 29th Annual Awards for Publication Excellence based on excellence in graphic design, editorial content and the ability to achieve overall communications excellence. This international competition is sponsored by Communications Concepts.

There were 1,361 entries evaluated in 11 major categories but only 304 publications accepted in the category of Magazines, Journals & Tabloids. Of those entries, 543 Awards of Excellence recognized distinction in all 100 individual categories, but only 16 awards went to entries in Magazines, Journals & Tabloids.

States and territories represented in this category include California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington D.C., Canada and Singapore. Only four award winners were from Alabama, and Alabama Medicine was the only award headquartered in Montgomery.

Alabama Medicine is the official magazine of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama. It is in its third year of publication and is managed by Lori M. Quiller, APR, director of communications and social media. For more information about Alabama Medicine magazine, the APEX Award for Publication Excellence, or any other publication of the Medical Association, please email lquiller@alamedical.org.

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Physician Groups Issue Joint Statement on Better Care Reconciliation Act

Physician Groups Issue Joint Statement on Better Care Reconciliation Act

June 29, 2017: Physicians Express Grave Concerns with the Better Care Reconciliation Act

Click here to see the joint letter to Alabama’s U.S. Senators

MONTGOMERY — We, the undersigned Alabama organizations, representing not just physicians but the thousands of low-income Alabamians served by them, want to express grave concerns with the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).

The BCRA fundamentally changes how Medicaid is funded, dismantling the program by capping its funding, shifting much of the financial burden to the states and likely leading to enrollment cuts — meaning less coverage for those who need it most. For those who ARE covered, the proposal will have devastating effects on the QUALITY of care provided by removing essential benefits of Medicaid — particularly for children.

Many do not realize that Medicaid is primarily a children’s program, particularly in our state:  71 percent of Alabama Medicaid recipients are CHILDREN, whose care is relatively less expensive and makeup only 20 percent of the state’s Medicaid costs. Children have unique health needs, and access to affordable, high-quality coverage is essential to keep them healthy; they are our future. Currently, Medicaid guarantees children comprehensive, medically necessary services, including EPSDT (early periodic screening, diagnosis, and treatment), which allows problems to be identified early so that children have the ability to thrive. Any efforts that take away these services or increase the number of uninsured would jeopardize children’s health.

Equally important, Alabama’s economic viability lies in the strength of its rural communities. The state’s physicians who practice in these areas depend on Medicaid for infrastructure dollars to keep their doors open. Even relatively small reductions in federal payments will force the closure of our rural hospitals and force physicians to leave these areas and likely, Alabama.

Will states be able to pick up the financial slack by raising taxes or reallocating state dollars from other programs? Will primary care physician payments be cut to the point where they can no longer care for their patients and pay their bills? In some states, survival may be a possibility, but in Alabama, as you know, funding for the current state share for Medicaid is a constant, year-to-year struggle in which there is no appetite for raising new taxes or revenues. With the unique way Alabama funds its Medicaid with Certified Public Expenditures, hospital/nursing home taxes, and the Children’s Hospital tax, Alabama stands to lose even more.

Simply put, the Better Care Reconciliation Act will be disastrous for low-income patients and ALL doctors who practice in Alabama and depend on Medicaid for healthcare system infrastructure.

In addition, we are concerned with other provisions of the legislation that would increase the number of uninsured (or underinsured), possibly eliminating the Essential Health Benefits (EHBs) and the loss of guaranteed coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

We question the BCRA’s negative impacts on Alabama, oppose the legislation as currently drafted, and urge the Administration and Congress to continue working to fix the problems with the ACA in a way that does not increase the number of (non-voluntarily) uninsured Americans.

For more information, contact:

  • Mark Jackson, Medical Association of the State of Alabama, (334) 954-2500
  • Linda Lee, Alabama Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics, (334) 954-2543
  • Jeff Arrington, Alabama Academy of Family Physicians, (334) 954-2570

Posted in: Official Statement

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