Why anti-transgender bills are a dangerous intrusion on medicine

The AMA is sending a strong message to America’s governors to stop interfering in the medical care of transgender minors.

Legislation pending in several states aims to prohibit medically necessary gender transition-related care for minor patients. AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara, MD, wrote to Bill McBride, executive director of the National Governors Association warning that these measures would “insert the government into clinical decision-making and force physicians to disregard clinical guidelines.” Such legislation was enacted in Arkansas last month after legislators overrode a veto by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

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Bill targets anti-Asian hate crimes tied to COVID-19

The AMA supports the “COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act” that passed the U.S. Senate on a 94–1 vote and will soon be taken up by the House of Representatives.

“This legislation seeks to address the ongoing hate and violence targeted at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by providing greater assistance with law-enforcement response to COVID-19 hate crimes,” AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara, MD, wrote in a letter of endorsement shared with the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii and Rep. Grace Meng of New York City.

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Why FDA’s move to ban menthol flavoring is long overdue

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced it will move to ban menthol flavoring in cigarettes and flavoring of all kinds in cigars. The long-overdue action follows a lawsuit filed last year by the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, Action on Smoking and Health, AMA and National Medical Association.

The FDA’s lifesaving action “is a major step toward preventing a new generation from becoming tobacco users,” said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, MD. “For too long, tobacco companies have been enabled to promote menthol cigarettes to the Black community, preying particularly on Black youth.

“We urge the FDA to move swiftly to implement the ban and remove these harmful products from the market without further delay,” she said. “We will continue to support policies and initiatives that keep tobacco products out of the hands of our nation’s youth to protect their health and well-being.”

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Vaccine credentials: How to make sure they’re done right

The AMA is calling on the federal government to take a strong role in establishing, publicizing and enforcing guidelines that all digital vaccine credential services (DVCS)—aka “vaccine passports”—must follow.

But first, “the use of DCVS should not outpace vaccine availability,” the AMA’s executive vice president and CEO, James L. Madara, MD, wrote in a letter to National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Micky Tripathi, PhD, MPP.

“Until the time that all Americans are easily able to access vaccines and trusted DVCS, we must guard against programs that appear to confer special social privilege based on one’s COVID-19 vaccination status,” Dr. Madara wrote. “For DVCS to be successful, vaccines must be universally accessible and the federal government must create strong guardrails around DVCS’ use of personal data.”

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2021 Match hits record highs despite pandemic’s disruptions

Despite the uncertainty inflicted on the American health system by the pandemic, the 2021 Main Residency Match saw a 2.7% rise in the number of first-year residency positions offered compared with the 2020 Match that took place amid the early spread of COVID-19 in the United States.

The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) reported that the 2021 Match was largest in its history, with 38,106 total positions offered.

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Why Medicaid should give moms full year of coverage post-pregnancy

The AMA and hundreds of other organizations are urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to swiftly approve demonstration projects that would extend the coverage period for people who enroll in Medicaid while pregnant to a full year after the pregnancy ends.

About 700 pregnancy-related deaths happen in the U.S. annually, with 60% of them being preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There “are stark racial inequities in maternal mortality,” and the pandemic “risks exacerbating the maternal health crisis,” says the letter sent by hundreds of national, state and local organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

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Major ad effort seeks to help answer COVID-19 vaccine questions

The AMA is joining many of the biggest names in health care and corporate America for a massive national communications effort on COVID-19 vaccines to send patients this message: “It’s up to you.”

More than 300 major brands, media companies, community-based organizations, faith leaders, medical experts and other trusted messengers are supporting the campaign designed to reach distinct audiences. The campaign was announced by the Ad Council and the COVID Collaborative, which have raised $52 million so far for the initiative.

Partners in the new campaign include Adobe, Disney, Facebook and Instagram, Google and YouTube, iHeartMedia, LinkedIn, NBCUniversal, Pandora, Salesforce, Snapchat, Spotify, Twitter, Unilever, Verizon, ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia.

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7 signs those new N95s at your physician practice might be fake

The country’s leading producer of N95 respirator masks, 3M, says that more than 10 million counterfeit versions of the personal protective equipment (PPE) have been seized since the pandemic’s onset in the U.S. Even big names like the Cleveland Clinic have been duped by cleverly counterfeited N95s.

Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued a notice about the fake N95s that are circulating and how physicians and others in health care charged with obtaining PPE can properly identify them.

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500,000 lost to COVID-19, but pandemic’s end is now within reach

The United States has broken the tragic barrier of more than 500,000 Americans lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. That is “half a million of our friends and family over this past year, our colleagues and our neighbors, people we cared for, and people who cared for us, lost in a fight that can feel never-ending,” said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, MD, in a video issued to mark the dreadful occasion.

“We mourn these devastating losses, but we must not lose hope because today—even though we still face loss and tragedy—the road ahead finally looks brighter than the one we’ve been on. At this moment, millions are getting vaccinated and vaccine production is ramping up. Help is on the way.”

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Q&A: Why JAMA’s editor finds pandemic answers in conversation

From the first JAMA Viewpoint—co-written by Anthony Fauci, MD—published in January 2020 on the mysterious novel coronavirus that had just emerged in Wuhan, China, the people behind the JAMA Network of journals have worked furiously to deliver timely, high-impact original research and perspectives on COVID-19.

These essential resources can be found at the JAMA Network COVID-19 resource center, and they include a series of outstanding one-on-one livestreamed interviews conducted with key physician experts by Howard Bauchner, MD, editor-in-chief of JAMA and senior vice president of AMA scientific publications and multimedia applications.

For the “Conversations with Dr. Bauchner” podcast, he interviews leading researchers and thinkers in health care, often touching on hot COVID-19 topics such as testing, treatments, vaccines and the professional impact. For this article, Dr. Bauchner was on the other end of the questioning, and he reflected on what he and his colleagues have learned about medical publishing during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, and what medicine can look forward to in 2021.

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Physicians, nurses, hospitals to America: This is our shot

With one in four Americans reportedly hesitant to get the safe and effective vaccines that have been authorized by the independent scientists at the Food and Drug Administration, the AMA joined the national organizations representing nurses and hospitals to release a public service announcement (PSA) urging the American public to get the COVID-19 vaccination when it is their turn.

“Vaccinations are safe, effective, prevent illness and save lives,” said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, MD. “Protect yourself and your loved ones by getting vaccinated, and play a role in this monumental effort that will help us return to normal. Whether enough people get the COVID-19 vaccine decides our future and the future toll of the virus—so be ready to do your part.”

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