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Professional News
AMA Delegates Vote to Return To Honolulu
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 15 page 12-12

FIG1 If psychiatrist Jeffrey Akaka, M.D., approaches you, don't be surprised if you get a pack of macadamia nuts and an invitation to the Aloha State.

Akaka, an APA delegate and member of the Section Council on Psychiatry to the AMA House of Delegates and a Hawaii native, has been tireless in urging the AMA house to return to Honolulu periodically for its interim meeting in December.

In turn, Akaka and his colleagues in the Hawaii Medical Association and Hawaii Psychiatric Medical Association have translated the goodwill—and significant tourist revenues—the meeting has generated into political capital with Hawaii's legislators in ongoing battles over psychologist prescribing in that state.

During the House of Delegates meeting in Chicago in June (Psychiatric News, July 16), delegates overwhelmingly approved a resolution to return to Honolulu in 2007 or 2008 for the interim meeting. The resolution was sponsored by APA, along with the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law and the Hawaii, Alaska, California, and Kansas state delegations.

The resolution was not without opposition from some delegates, who said the cost of the meeting to the AMA, along with the clinical time lost in travel, made return to Honolulu unsupportable. Other delegates said that the Hawaii meeting has sometimes been perceived by other AMA members as a junket.

But just as many delegates testified to work that has been accomplished by the House of Delegates in a meeting devoted to advocacy and legislative issues. The tide turned when representatives from the Hawaii Medical Association reported that a pledge of financial and logistical support to defray costs of the Honolulu meeting had been obtained from the convention bureau there.

Akaka told delegates that the meeting was reaping political rewards with the state's leadership. At the 2003 interim meeting in Honolulu, he said, the Hawaii Medical Association facilitated a scope-of-practice panel involving the chair of the Hawaii Senate's Education Committee, a Democrat, and the state House of Representatives' minority leader, a Republican.

"From the 2003 interim meeting through now, and throughout the entire subsequent legislative session, not a single crash-course psychology prescribing bill has been introduced in either the House or the Senate of the state of Hawaii," he told AMA delegates.

Akaka's work in bringing leaders of psychiatry and medicine together with political leadership in his state is regarded by some of his colleagues as a political masterstroke. ▪

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