The American Medical Association will present Senator Edward M. Kennedy and seven others with the Dr. Nathan Davis Award For Outstanding Government Service tonight at its National Advocacy Conference in Washington, DC.
The award, named for the doctor who founded the association, recognizes government officials "whose outstanding contributions have promoted the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health."
Kennedy has been a leading voice for healthcare in the Senate for decades. But the association's president, Dr. Joseph M. Heyman, cited in a statement two significant contributions he made last year: helping to pass mental health parity legislation requiring large health plans that provide mental health coverage to offer the same benefits for mental health care as they do for regular medical care; and Kennedy's "triumphant return" to the Senate last summer amid his brain cancer treatments to vote against a Republican attempt to cut Medicare payments to doctors.
"Senator Kennedy is a long-time champion for America's patients in the fight for health system reform, and the AMA is honored to give him its highest award for government service," Heyman said in a statement.
Other officials being honored this year include Texas Governor Rick Perry and Congressman Nathan Deal, a Republican from Georgia.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.