Last month, the American Medical Association (AMA) presented U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) with the Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service.
"During a career dedicated to public service, Sen. Alexander has been a consensus-builder, leader, and bipartisan workhorse on a range of public health issues, leaving a lasting impression in Tennessee, Washington and across our country," said AMA Board Chair Jack Resneck, Jr., MD. "He has forged strong relationships and leveraged them to pass vital legislation that is confronting the opioid abuse epidemic and providing physicians with the tools they need to treat their patients."
A former governor, university president and U.S. Secretary of Education, Alexander has been widely recognized for his bipartisan approach to legislating. As chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) committee, Alexander has spearheaded a number of significant healthcare bills, including the "21st Century Cures Act," which included provisions to accelerate medical product development and expedite getting other healthcare innovations into the marketplace to benefit patients. Additionally, he has championed comprehensive mental health legislation, and the "SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act" - a legislative package to address opioid use disorders.
He worked closely with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who serves as Ranking Member on the HELP committee, to engage key stakeholders in discussions to gain a more comprehensive picture of the opioid epidemic. The AMA specifically lauded Alexander's efforts to pass the comprehensive SUPPORT legislation (H.R. 6) while protecting states' ability to work directly with physicians on use of their prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) databases, protecting patient privacy, and prioritizing new research for the treatment of pain and opioid use disorder.
Alexander, who was presented the award during the recent AMA National Advocacy Conference, told Nashville Medical News, "I am grateful for this very generous award, but I really should be thanking the American Medical Association for what they do to care for people who need help. I'm going to do all I can over the next two years to create an environment for patients that produces a better experience and a better outcome at a lower cost. I hope the American Medical Association will help with that, because we all know we're more likely to succeed in that if we remember that doctors need to be in a better working environment with less administrative burden, so they could spend more time caring for their patients."
Alexander was nominated by the Tennessee Medical Association and was one of eight honorees chosen this year to receive the Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service. The award, named after the founding father of the AMA, recognizes elected and career officials in federal, state or municipal service whose contributions have promoted the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health.