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Thursday, November 19, 2009

AMA HOUSE STICKS TO PRO-REFORM POSITION

Despite calls from a vocal minority to the contrary, the American Medical Association House of Delegates backed the organization’s position in support of health system reform. “The time to make health system reform a reality is now,” said AMA President Jim Rohack, MD. The house adopted language requiring AMA to “actively and publicly” oppose or support certain details of reform legislation (PDF), pushing AMA leaders to stay true to existing association policy. “We shouldn’t have to move around in secret in the halls of Capitol Hill,” said Peter Levine, MD, a delegate from Washington, D.C. We should be leading and not hiding behind the shadows of people in Washington.” During extensive debate, the delegates:
  • Adopted language directly from TMA’s Texas Medicare Manifesto stating that “health care reform must include replacing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) with a Medicare physician payment system that automatically keeps pace with the cost of running a practice, and is backed by a fair, stable funding formula;”
  • Included strong support for effective medical liability reform; and
  • Opposed unscientific measurements of physicians’ clinical outcomes and the establishment of a new Medicare bureaucracy that could set payment rates without congressional approval.
But a call for AMA to “actively and publicly oppose any new public health insurance option” failed 315 to 199. “It is bad tactics to give away all of your positions when you are playing a poker game such as we are with Congress,” said Barbara McAneny, MD, chair of the AMA Council on Medical Service. And, in the most telling action, the delegates defeated 350 to 167 language stating that AMA did not endorse HR 3962, the broad reform bill that the U.S. House of Representatives approved just days earlier with AMA support. Read complete coverage of the AMA house debate on TMA’s Blogged Arteries. We’ll also have our usual wrap-up of the full meeting in Texas Medicine.

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