Tuesday, June 16, 2009

AMA to Obama: Feh

AMA to Obama: Feh. - The Treatment:

I suppose this isn't surprising. Among other things, the AMA represents an ever-shrinking portion of the physician population. And, by all appearances, it represents the profession at both its most craven and conservative. Remember, this is the organization that funded pro-tobacco candidates even as its top public health priority was to reduce smoking. And, remember, this is the orgnaization that in 1995 endorsed Newt Gingrich's plan to savage Medicare by, among other things, forcing beneficiaries to pay more for their care. What convinced the AMA to make this deal? Chiefly, it was Gingrich's agreement to strike a provision that would have cut physician fees.

Of course, not all physicians agreed with the AMA back then. The American College of Physicians, a more liberal group, protested the cuts because of what it would mean for the eldery. And the same is true today. Smaller, more liberal physician groups are lining up behind reform. They want malpractice relief and a Medicare fix, too. But they also want what's best for their patients--and their country. They want to help construct a deal, one that works for everybody.

So the question going forward is how the medical profession as a whole chooses to act. Whatever their lobbying presence in Washington, physicians have enormous influence over the public as individuals. Health reform is a complex issue; patients will be asking their doctors, whom they trust, what to think.

Physicians say they have a higher obligation than other professions, that they are healers and not just tradesmen looking to make a buck. And many really believe that, I know. Now is the time to show it.

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