The American Medical Association Wednesday approved a report calling for expanded treatment of drug abusers and other major changes in the nation's war against drugs.
Also Wednesday, the nation's largest organization of doctors called for reform of the nation's Medicaid health insurance system for the poor to establish uniform nationwide eligibility standards and uniform payments for medical care.The AMA's House of Delegates, its policymaking body, voted to lobby the government to expand Medicaid to cover an additional 27 million poor people at an estimated cost of $24 billion at 1988 spending levels.
On the drug issue, delegates called for shifting the main point of attack from trying to catch drug traffickers to working to reduce demand for their illegal products by expanding treatment of abusers.
"We are saying this nation does have the will to overcome the drug problem, but it simply has the wrong game plan," said Dr. Lonnie Bristow, an AMA trustee from Berkeley, Calif.
The delegates Wednesday also approved a recommendation intended to encourage biomedical companies that may be hesitant about developing new products for fear of lawsuits.
It urged that state and federal governments reform the nation's court system to limit the amount of money awarded in product liability lawsuits.
Worry about being sued by patients and having to pay multimillion-dollar awards is leading the companies to hold off on developing new vaccines, drugs and other "potentially life-saving technologies," according to a report presented to the group.
On Tuesday, the House of Delegates rejected a ban on publishing articles about euthanasia but held firm against mercy killing.
It also called for bans on toy guns that can be mistaken for the real thing and on real, non-metallic firearms that can slip through metal detectors and other screening devices.
The policy-making arm of the 295,000-member group voted to urge the federal government to end price supports for tobacco and help tobacco farmers begin growing other crops but postponed action on a proposal for doubling the federal tobacco tax.
The 420 delegates voted later Wednesday on a proposal calling for creation of a new class of hospital worker.
The drug policy approved Wednesday recommends that the federal government expand drug abuse treatment programs, ease regulations to permit private doctors to treat opiate addicts with methadone and strengthen drug education programs aimed at adolescents.
The policy also calls on the president to appoint "a high-ranking official of the Executive Branch to coordinate federal drug policy."