What are people in this country supposed to think when the AMA endorses a single payor government health care scheme? Doesn’t that mean that the physicians are by and large in favor of it? Or is it possible that the AMA is not on the same page as the physicians? But if the AMA is charting a course that is not consistent with the wishes of the physicians, wouldn’t that affect their membership and hence their revenue? This would be institutional suicide, wouldn’t it? Unless…..well unless the AMA’s revenue didn’t depend on the physicians. What? Where does their money come from then? If you guessed the federal government, you go to the head of the class! Yes, that’s right. Back in the early nineties when Medicare forced a new method of calculating physician payment (it was called the RBRVS…resource based relative value scale and was the result of the efforts of academicians at Harvard), the government wanted the AMA on board, that is, they wanted the endorsement of the AMA. They got it. The feds bought it. The AMA was granted an exclusive contract to print the code books that everyone had to use (…cough…buy!), freeing them from any future need to craft policy statements consistent with their membership’s wishes. All they had to do was say whatever the feds wanted them to say and their revenue was secure. Of course this is a two-edged sword. If the AMA didn’t say what the feds wanted them to…well…that’s right, they would put their juicy contract in jeopardy.
Single payor system? Any honest physician will tell you this is a disaster. But the feds gain credibility with an AMA endorsement…which they were able to buy.
Who should the American people look to as representative of the average physician’s wishes or views, then? If the AMA doesn’t represent the physicians, who does? The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons is the only group I know of that represents physicians free from the bribes and shackles of the feds. Their efforts (primarily those of Dr. Jane Orient and a brilliant lawyer Andrew Schlafly) brought the Clinton health care plan down. They are fighting a tough fight right now against the new threat, Obamacare.
Check out their website. And remember, whenever the AMA endorses anything, their compromised status must be kept in mind.
G. Keith Smith, M.D.