AMA DELEGATES VOTE TO ENCOURAGE REAUTHORIZATION OF VACCINE TRUST FUND
AMA DELEGATES VOTE TO ENCOURAGE REAUTHORIZATION OF VACCINE TRUST FUND during the American Medical Association's annual meeting in Chicago June 17. AMA should "encourage the Administration to support and Congress to reauthorize the excise tax and the spending authority of the [vaccine injury] trust fund immediately," a report adopted by the House of Delegates states. The vaccine injury trust fund was not reauthorized during 1992, and excise taxes on vaccines are no longer being collected. Both House and Senate versions of President Clinton's childhood immunization program would reauthorize the trust fund. The delegates, however, expressed reservations about the vaccine law, voting to refer to the AMA board a proposal "to eliminate product liability from children's vaccines" and establish an alternative means of dispute resolution. The AMA reference committee had submitted the resolution with a recommendation against adoption. The June 17 delegate vote means the proposal will be revisited during the association's interim meeting in December. During floor debate, American Academy of Pediatrics representatives and Florida AMA Delegate Kay Hanley argued that the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act -- which imposes a per-dose excise tax on manufacturers -- contributes to increased vaccine costs and thus hinders doctors' ability to administer immunizations. They further asserted that parents often are unable to comprehend the complex liability laws involved. At a same-day press conference, AMA Secretary-Treasurer William Jacott maintained that current law adversely effects both doctors and patients. "We [shouldn't] make it a federal act every time somebody comes in our office for a DPT shot," he said. "We don't have to pass out a Chicago telephone book to the mother that says this is what you have to know about immunizations." In opposition to the product liability resolution, the reference committee argued that the current system should continue despite its imperfections. Although vaccine injuries are generally the result of "maloccurrences rather than malpractice or product liability," the committee report states, "the majority of the testimony favored preservation of the current system, and felt it is effective." In other actions during its annual meeting, the House of Delegates voted to adopt a resolution calling for a "nationally mandated hepatitis B vaccination program for all infants." The delegates also adopted resolutions urging Medicaid coverage of OTC drugs when they are the drug of choice; directing AMA to "work with all interested parties to effect regulations that require information contained in mail-service pharmacy prescriptions and refills be in sealed envelopes that protect the confidentiality of the prescribing information"; and asking AMA to examine FDA regulations on imprint coding of drugs "for compliance with existing AMA policy."
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