AMA’s Support For Health Law Sparks Infighting
A fissure has developed in the American Medical Association, the powerful physicians' lobby that backed the health reform bill earlier this year, about support for the sweeping measure, according to news reports.
The Chicago Tribune: Doctors are "upset a Medicare payment formula was not a permanent part of the new health reform law. Because it was not in the law, the AMA now has to lobby Senate Republicans for another temporary payment fix to avert the scheduled [21 percent payment] cut. Though doctors said they are not calling on Congress and President Barack Obama to repeal health reform, they are disappointed AMA leadership endorsed legislation that violated several long-held stances. For one, the law did not include sweeping liability reform the AMA has advocated for years" (Jaspen, 6/13).
MedPage Today: "Outgoing AMA president James Rohack, MD, defended the group's process during recent healthcare reform efforts and maintained he was clear in delivering the AMA's message on why it backed reform. Rohack explained that the AMA had supported an earlier version of the bill that was passed by the House that contained a fix to the [payment formula]. After the doctor payment provision was removed, the AMA assumed it would be added back to the bill during the reconciliation process, when the Senate and House bills were combined." It was not, but the AMA did not withdraw its support (Walker, 6/13).
Modern Healthcare: In a sign of how sentiments have shifted, at an AMA meeting Saturday, "eight candidates vying for four board of trustees seats [were each] given a few minutes to speak and most criticized the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act healthcare reform law the AMA supported." The group lost 3.4 percent of its membership in 2009, and expects to lose as much as 7 percent this year (Robeznieks, 6/13).
Politico notes that the New England Journal of Medicine "is out with a study that concludes: 'A large majority of physicians, including AMA members, supported proposals for health insurance expansion that were opposed by the AMA'" (Kliff and Haberkorn, 6/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.