Massachusetts Medical Society: Mass. Medical Society sets new policies on concealed carry, self-induced abortion, food insecurity, fetal and infant mortality

Mass. Medical Society sets new policies on concealed carry, self-induced abortion, food insecurity, fetal and infant mortality

WALTHAM – The Massachusetts Medical Society has adopted into organizational policy several resolutions, including support of timely, and systematic monitoring of fetal and infant mortality in the state; food insecurity screening; opposition to concealed carry reciprocity; and opposition to state or federal legislation that attempts to criminalize self-induced abortion.

Physician-members of MMS’s House of Delegates attended the organization's 2018 Annual Meeting April 26-28 at the World Trade Center and considered a variety of resolutions proposed by members. Resolutions accepted by the House of Delegates became organizational policy.

Following are some of the newly adopted policies impacting public health or health care delivery in the Commonwealth and nationally.

Fetal and Infant Mortality

The Massachusetts Medical Society will work with appropriate stakeholders, regulators and policy makers to establish monitoring of fetal and infant mortality.

According to the most recent data (2014) from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the state has the lowest infant mortality rate in the nation, but concern lies in the disparity of occurrence along racial and ethnic lines.

The infant death rate in 2014 among non-Hispanic blacks was 7.3 per 1,000 births, while that number is 3.4 among non-Hispanic whites.

Variances in infant mortality rate exist also in communities within the Commonwealth. In 2014, the communities of Fitchburg (9.9 per 1,000), Chelsea (8.5), and Worcester (7.4) had some of the highest IMRs in the state.

Food Insecurity Screening

The Medical Society’s new policy encourages routine food insecurity screening by health care providers, their organizations, and schools, with validated food insecurity screening tools or larger screening sets for social determinants of health that incorporate screening for food insecurity. 

The society believes that food insecurity screening can be a common-sense component of conversation on the broad subject of social determinants of health and that intervention can improve health, especially in those with chronic conditions.

Concealed Carry
The Massachusetts Medical Society “opposes all forms of ‘concealed carry reciprocity’ federal legislation that would require all states to recognize concealed carry permits granted by other states and allow citizens with concealed gun carry permits in one state to carry guns across state lines into states that have stricter laws” and will encourage the American Medical Association to do the same.

The policies regarding concealed carry laws are consistent with and build upon the organization’s current policies involving firearms, which exist to reduce the number of deaths and accidents attributed to guns, make gun ownership safer, promoting gun safety education, encouraging research that will help to understand the risk factors related to gun violence and offering education to help physicians and other health care professionals facilitate gun safety conversations with patients.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Massachusetts has the lowest rate of firearm deaths in the country. MMS members speaking on behalf of this resolution at the Annual Meeting expressed concern that federal legislation on concealed carry reciprocity would put people in Massachusetts at increased risk of firearm violence, despite the state’s current robust gun laws.

Opposition to the Criminalization of Self-Induced Abortion

The Massachusetts Medical Society will advocate against any legislative efforts or laws in Massachusetts or federally to criminalize self-induced abortion and the MMS delegation to the American Medical Association will submit a resolution to the AMA urging it to adopt similar policy.

Self-induced abortion is a rare occurrence, but the Massachusetts Medical Society contends that emphasis should be not on criminalizing women but on a broad spectrum of societal failings that lead to unintended pregnancy, such as lack of access to appropriate contraceptive care.

The weekend featured as a guest Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who delivered the annual Shattuck Lecture of the New England Journal of Medicine as a part of the society’s Annual Education Program.  Gates then joined Michelle Williams, SM, ScD, dean of the faculty at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, for a discussion on global epidemics.

The Massachusetts Medical Society, the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School and Community Servings of Boston hosted a “Food is Medicine” listening session during which attendees from the health care arena learned about the state’s first-in-the-nation Food is Medicine Plan to assess the need for and access to medically tailored food and nutrition interventions for patients with complex health and social needs. Participants also responded to a series of questions regarding current practices to screen for food insecurity, major challenges to such screening and recommendations for the MMS to address this issue going forward.

The Annual Meeting also included a “Stop the Bleed” educational training session, the annual awards luncheon, an International Medical Graduates Annual Reception, an LGBTQ mentoring and networking reception, and an ethics forum.

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