December 6 , 2000
AMA Reaffirms Support of Pain Relief Promotion Act
The AMA House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly to defeat a resolution
suggesting withdrawal of AMA support for the Pain Relief Promotion
Act today at its winter meeting in Orlando, Florida. The Reference
Committee report (following), which summarized testimony and made
the recommendation to reaffirm AMA support of the Pain Relief Promotion
Act, points out that there is clear evidence that implementation
of the few state laws with wording like the Pain Relief Promotion
Act have uniformly been followed by an increase in per capita morphine
prescription, not a decrease. It is clear that claims of a so-called "chilling
effect" are unfounded and without scientific merit.
With reaffirmation of overwhelming AMA support, it is more important
than ever that Congress pass and President Clinton sign the enlightened
Pain Relief Promotion Act, which has bipartisan support and is supported
by the majority of congressional members in both chambers. Patients
need improved pain treatment and palliative care, not assisted suicide.
N. Gregory Hamilton, M.D.
President, Physicians for Compassionate Care (503-276-1293)
(Following is the Reference Committee Recommendation which was passed
RESOLUTION 214 - OPPOSITION TO THE PAIN RELIEF ACT
Mr. Speaker, your Reference Committee recommends that Resolution
214 not be adopted.
HOD ACTION: Resolution 214 not adopted.
Resolution 214 asks that our American Medical Association oppose
the Pain Relief Promotion Act due to the Act's unintended consequences
and potential chilling effect on the practices of palliative medicine
and pain management.
While noting that some organizations are persisting in opposition
to the Federal "Pain Relief Promotion Act," your Reference Committee
heard overwhelming support for not adopting this Resolution that
would reverse our AMA's position on this bill.
In short, your Reference Committee believes that our AMA and interested
state and national medical specialty societies, working together,
accomplished what the House of Delegates asked be done pursuant to
actions taken at I-99: principally, that our AMA work to make specific
clarifications to the bill with its sponsors to erase any lingering
concerns about creating new Federal intrusion into the practice of
Your Reference Committee particularly appreciated hearing from the
many individual physicians who have practiced in the palliative care
and pain relief areas and who joined with national, state and specialty
organizations to voice continued support for our AMA's efforts to
move this bill forward.
As was noted in the Reference Committee hearing, many states have
already adopted language substantially similar to the new safe harbor
in the Pain Relief Promotion Act, although it was specifically noted
that Minnesota's law that prohibits the prescribing of controlled
substances for purpose of effectuating a physician-assisted suicide
fails to include this protection for physicians whose intent might
be questioned by state or Federal authorities.
Mr. Speaker, this concludes the report of Reference Committee B.
I would like to thank Richard Ambur, MD, Philip Briggs, MD, Roger
Gaddy, MD, Kristie Paris, MD, Clarence Sanders, MD, Melissa Thomas,
MD, and all those who testified before the Committee. The Committee
also would like to thank our AMA staff who assisted us: Rebecca Cerny,
JD, Mary Kuffner, JD, Ron Szabat, JD and Wendy Holmes.