Flint champion Bobby Mukkamala named American Medical Association president-elect

Editor's note: Mukkamala will succeed Bruce Scott as president of the American Medical Association. 

Bobby Mukkamala, M.D., was voted in as president-elect of the American Medical Association (AMA) at the group's annual meeting in Chicago. He will take over starting in June 2025 for Bruce Scott, M.D., who will be inaugurated as AMA president on June 11. 

Mukkamala will serve a one-year term for the physician advocacy group, which has been focused on reforming Medicare physician pay, reducing prior authorization burden and mitigating provider burnout, including through the use of technology to augment provider workflow. 

Mukkamala is an otolaryngologist from Flint, Michigan, who has served in leadership roles within the American Medical Association and for local health initiatives in Michigan. He chairs the Substance Use and Pain Care Taskforce of the AMA and served on its board of trustees in 2017 and 2021. 

Mukkamala attended the University of Michigan Medical School and completed his residency at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago.

He served as the chair of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint in the aftermath of the Flint water crisis, where he sought to fund projects that would mitigate the effects of lead in children. 

Mukkamala was among 10 honorees awarded the Governor’s Service Awards in Michigan for supporting his community during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the state of Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity website, Mukkamala served the Flint community on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic at testing sites and mobile clinics. He also partnered with his son to make N95-like masks for healthcare professionals with 3D printers within their homes and worked on vaccination efforts.

Mukkamala said in an interview with Fierce Healthcare he hopes to work on prevention of chronic diseases rather than the "sick care" model that costs the health system millions.

Mukkamala is interested in chronic disease detection and prevention from community work in Flint, Michigan. He said that at a local farmer's market, he offered blood pressure screenings. Nearly 30% of people entering the farmer's market had stage one hypertension, and they didn't know it. 

“That's the sort of observation that I make in my hometown that is perfectly aligned with exactly what the priority stories of the AMA is, which is to identify that and decrease the burden of chronic disease in our country”Mukkamala said.

Mukkamala also hopes to continue in the AMA's advocacy of modernizing technology in healthcare and facilitating interoperability. 

“If, during my three years, we can kind of call attention to the foolishness of this lack of interoperability of health information, I will leave the AMA in three years as a happy man knowing that I put my fingerprints on the work that makes that rights that wrong," he said.

He continued, saying: "If somebody has an allergy to a medication…  they don't have to worry about remembering that in every physician's office that they go to because it automatically populates the allergy field of their medical record. It's just something so basic that we're missing out on. That's one thing that is my sort of pet project.”

Mukkamala also discussed reducing the burden of prior authorizations and addressing Medicare payment cuts for physicians. 

The AMA House of Delegates passed a resolution addressing prior authorization at its annual meeting in Chicago. The resolution, which will ultimately be passed onto lawmakers, would create greater oversight of health insurers’ use of prior authorization controls on patient access to care. A statement by AMA says the group will advocate for increased legal accountability of health insurers, increased transparency for prior authorization denials, and support real-time prescription benefit tools .

Mukkamala also said one of his priorities as future AMA president is to increase the physician supply in the country. He advocates for the addition of international medical graduates to the workforce as well as fostering growth of U.S.-educated doctors. He said residency slots need to be increased to address the shortage. 

He also pointed to restrictive laws, like one in Michigan, that require internationally-trained physicians to re-do residency training before working as physicians in the U.S. He advocates a shorter acclimation period for international doctors to work in the U.S.

Mukkamala says in the next year as president-elect, he hopes to learn from incoming president Bruce Scott, also an otolaryngologist, who has been a mentor to him for many years. 

“He's been a mentor for more than a decade now, and I certainly there's a lot of fire in my belly about a lot of things, but I'm hoping to learn from him about how to translate that passion into conversations with people to accomplish solutions,” Mukkamala said. “So I'm really looking forward to honing my skills, honing my communication, my ability to communicate what's on my mind and what's that fire in my belly in a way that's constructive. And so I'm glad to have this year as president-elect to kind of brush up my skills.”