AMA Defends Itself from "Conspiracy Theories" of New Medical Group

October 11, 2010

Targeting the "dark legacy" of the AMA and the "profoundly negative, lasting effect on the practice of medicine" as a result of the Obama Administration's healthcare reform, a new medical society is looking to recruit the frustrated and the fed up.

Targeting the "dark legacy" of the AMA and the "profoundly negative, lasting effect on the practice of medicine" as a result of the Obama Administration's healthcare reform, a new medical society is looking to recruit the frustrated and the fed up.

America's Medical Society is now open for business, "in an attempt to pull together disparate groups of individual physicians and disenfranchised medical groups" into a new group that "truly speaks on behalf of American physicians, according to a statement from the AMS.

The group is founded by Adam F. Dorin, MD, the founder of Physicians Against Obamacare and co-founder of the National Doctors Tea Party, so no doubt one of the big targets of the group is the health reform bill signed into law last March. Dorin says the majority of U.S. doctors are "despondent" regarding health reform and that even if overturned in court, repealed by Republicans, or otherwise eliminated, the damage is already done.

"Obamacare strips doctors of their once-elevated and cherished position at the top of the health care delivery system," Dorin says. "And many fear the result for quality of care will not be good. As nurses with PhD degrees, nurse practitioners, and nurse anesthetists seek medical degrees through legislative fiat, the system of team-based medical care will be forever changed for the worse."

But health reform isn't the only thing responsible for doctor dissonance, according to AMS's founder. Let's not forget who Dorin says is one of the main supporters of this legislation - the AMA.

Dorin says the AMA -"flush with a government-sanctioned monopoly on medical coding copyrights to the tune of $70 million a year; part of its "dark legacy" - is creating "fighting mad" physicians fed up with the association's stance on health reform and the healthcare climate in the U.S. They want out of the AMA and into a group that shares their beliefs.

Not surprisingly, the AMA disagrees with its portrayal. In a statement to Physicians Practice from Ardis Hoven, MD, board chair of the AMA, the group says it welcomes "the diversity of physician opinions, but falsehoods and conspiracy theories do nothing to advance the common goals physicians share."

"As the nation’s largest physician organization, we are working for a physician-led team approach to care - with each member of the team playing the role they are educated and trained to play," Hoven says. "Pot-shots may make good headlines but they don’t reflect reality: Day in and day out, AMA is working hard to provide physicians with the advocacy and practical tools they need to care for patients and lead improvements to our health system."

Now we all know about the Florida Medical Association's threat to succeed from the AMA and its subsequent stern letter to the association to set its ship straight and start representing its membership. Dorin says "a conservative band" of doctors from the California Medical Association also tried denouncing health reform, but were "beaten down."

These are the kinds of professionals that the AMS is actively recruiting: those fed up with the system and looking for something different. And their alternative is certainly cheaper than the AMA's annual dues. The AMS Web site offers three different membership levels (red, white, and blue) ranging from $12 to $49. And, if you act now and sign up between Oct. 1, 2010, and Oct. 1, 2011, your membership is "lifetime;" after that, you have to pay annually.

The AMA lists its yearly membership dues as between $280 and $420 a year and no "lifetime" status, so advantage AMS.

But that is the only advantage I see. There is truly strength in numbers and that's the heart of the AMA - its numbers. Are they dwindling? Yes. Are people frustrated? Yes.

But is the AMS a worthy alternative to the AMA? In my opinion, no.

Sorry Dr. Dorin. I won't get into a debate on the merits of the Tea Party and its influence in politics over the last year and a half, but I will say you've tapped into the same frustration in healthcare that exists with our leadership in Washington, D.C.

But for all its perceived faults, the AMA is the voice of doctors right now. And doctors have the choice to stand with the group or not, knowing full well that - sorry to borrow an old advertising line - membership has its privileges in a seat at the table in D.C. Some physicians have spoken with their checkbooks and left the AMA and that is their right.

The AMA needs to do some damage control, stopping the stream of doctors choosing not to re-up with the group and recruit new members at the same time. There is no doubt in my mind that AMA leadership knows it is losing doctors, knows it is losing influence, and knows it needs to do something.

But - like politics - time will tell if the AMA can regain the confidence of its former members or if the AMS gains steam amid a sea of frustration.

Physicians, like all Americans, want to be heard. The main winner in this struggle for membership will be who is willing to listen and take action.