Behind the Scenes of the House of Delegates Meeting

How HOD Policy is Made and Reviewed

May 10, 2022

By Todd Pickard, MMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, FASCO

We are currently preparing for the upcoming House of Delegates (HOD) Annual Meeting, May 20-22 in Indianapolis, Indiana. While this meeting takes place just once each year, the HOD’s work does not stop there; it has a role and responsibilities year-round.

In the first of this series of articles explaining various aspects of the HOD, I focused on the purpose of the HOD, its composition, the annual meeting, and why you – as an AAPA member — should be invested in it. I’d now like to invite you into a little more in-depth look at the crucial work this body does behind the scenes on behalf of the PA profession.

How the HOD fits into AAPA
There is an important synergy and relationship between the AAPA Board of Directors (BOD) and the HOD. The two bodies work together collaboratively, as a team, to serve members of the profession and their patients.

Each, however, has its own unique role and responsibilities. The BOD has distinct responsibilities, as outlined in our Articles of Incorporation, to set the strategic course for the organization in alignment with AAPA’s mission, vision, and values. This includes approving the AAPA budget, deciding how initiatives will be funded, and making decisions about how the Academy operates.

Under the Articles of Incorporation, the HOD is delegated the sole authority on behalf of the corporation to enact policies establishing the collective values, philosophies, and principles of the PA profession. This policy provides guidance to PAs to best serve their patients and establish the profession’s positions on public health issues.

How policy is made
The HOD convenes annually at the AAPA conference in May. However, preparation for the meeting takes place throughout the year as delegations continually consider existing AAPA Policy and identify potential policy gaps that exist.  Amending current policy or creating new policy is done by submitting a resolution for consideration, debate, and action at the next HOD meeting.  There are two distinct resolution categories – Bylaws and Non-Bylaws resolutions. Bylaws resolutions may be submitted by the Board of Directors; any commission or work group; any officially recognized chapter, specialty organization or caucus; the Student Academy; and the collective House Officers. Non-bylaws resolutions may be submitted by the same groups with the addition of task forces.

Organizations must submit new resolutions well in advance of the next HOD meeting. Bylaws resolutions are due 90 days in advance of the convening of the HOD meeting, and Non-Bylaws resolutions are due 60 days prior to the meeting. This allows the House officers ample opportunity to meet to review proposed resolutions and determine whether any additional information is required – rationale for the proposed changes, evaluation of potential financial implications or negative impact, etc.

Final policy resolutions are made available to all members – not just HOD delegates — to review on the AAPA website 30 days prior to the convening of the House of Delegates – and the 2022 resolutions are now available. I strongly encourage each of you to review and familiarize yourself with the proposed policy as it will impact the profession and how you are able to serve your patients. I also encourage you to reach out to your state chapter, specialty organization, or caucus to share any concerns you may have or to lend your voice in support of a proposed resolution. These resolutions – if accepted — become AAPA Policy for all members and impact our ability to practice to the full extent of our education, training, and experience.

All policy is subject to review five years after its enactment. So, along with new resolutions, policy that is up for review is placed on the consent agenda – meaning, anything that is not pulled out for testimony or amendment automatically becomes policy at the end of the meeting. Delegates have the opportunity to extract any items from the consent agenda that they want to debate, revise, review, or amend.

Resolutions that are pulled from the consent agenda are assigned to a reference committee, who hears testimony from both delegates and members before creating a report of their recommendations for delegates’ consideration. Once each of the reference committee’s reports have been made available on the HOD webpage, there can be additional testimony or amendments proposed if needed on the final day of the HOD meeting. Following any final debate on reference committee recommendations, the HOD votes on each resolution pulled from a second consent agenda.

To help illustrate this process, here is a step-by-step example of how a resolution becomes policy.

  1. A delegate requests to pull resolution A02 from the consent agenda. A02 is assigned to Reference Committee A.
  2. During Reference Committee A hearings, A02 is debated, along with all other resolutions extracted from the consent agenda assigned to Reference Committee A. During debate, members and delegates have the opportunity to provide testimony – to speak pro or con to the resolution.
  3. Following the hearings, Reference Committee A deliberates privately and considers the testimony that was presented.
  4. Reference Committee A prepares and delivers a report, and brings a recommendation to the full HOD for a vote.

How delegates make decisions
Delegates come to the HOD meeting prepared – having read all resolutions that are up for debate and informed by their constituents. They may have testimony to present, themselves.

It is important to note that when the House is exercising the power delegated them under the Articles of Incorporation, they are obliged to act as fiduciaries of the organization and must make decisions that are in the best interest of the organization. They may take constituents’ feedback into account to inform their final actions, just as they would also consider all the testimony they have heard both pro and con to the resolution. In making their final informed decision on any resolution, delegates bear the responsibility to ensure they are acting in the best interest of AAPA and the profession.

If you feel strongly about the HOD and its responsibility to establish the collective values, philosophies, and principles of the PA profession, I encourage you to attend the HOD meeting at AAPA 2022. New voices and ideas are crucial to this process – so I hope to see you there!

Todd Pickard, MMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, FASCO, is the AAPA Vice President and Speaker of the House of Delegates.

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