Friday, November 9, 2007

AMA: A Sleeping GIant Rouses

The AMA is becoming a more visibly activist organization.

The AMA recognized it was losing its membership grip and its clout as a national organization. Only about 1/3 of doctors belonged. Many felt the AMA no longer represented their point of view.

It was becoming known as a muscle-bound bureaucracy. In the public’s mind, the AMA was often thought of as a doctors’ union, protecting physician’s pocketbooks, rather than representing the public’s best interests. Furthermore, its voice among the major media and the public at large was seldom heard loud and clear on reform issues.

The AMA still has power – its journal is a first-class scientific publication, it helps create and profits from the codes by which doctors are paid, it has a strong voice in doctor training programs and in medical school affairs, and it’s a powerful lobby inside the Beltway.

The AMA’s job isn’t easy. It represents a varied, often cantankerous, mostly conservative profession made up of 191 recognized specialties, some independent, others moving to the beat of their employers or their own specialty societies.

The sleeping giant is now aroused.

The AMA has launched a public relation’s campaign, “Voice for the Uninsured.” It will reach primary care voters, crowds in football stadiums, civic and business groups. It will feature podcasts and will be on MyFace. It will run full-page ads in Time, Newsweek, and US News and World Report, and it will blanket the Metropolitan Center train station in Washington, D.C., with ads.

The AMA is encouraging members to call U.S. senators to avert drastic cuts in Medicare payments, cuts totaling 40% over the next 9 years under current law, starting with 10% cut on Jan. 1. 2008. What other profession, what member of the U.S. Congress, would put up with such pay cuts?

The AMA has sent an AMA Connect Survey online to its members asking for their opinions on four resolutions to be presented to its House of Delegates on four major issues

1) Whether the AMA should back a federal tax credit or other financial approaches to help doctors pay for purchasing and implementing electronic health records.

2) Whether the AMA should amend HIPPA and similar regulations

3) Whether the AMA should foster legislative initiatives permitting and protecting doctors’ use of off-label drugs demonstrated to be reasonable and necessary for care

4) Whether the AMA should develop a mechanism allowing state medical societies to rank t health plans’ performance for transparency and informed decision making.

The AMA has signed an agreement with Sermo, Inc, through its website, Together the AMA and Sermo encourage physicians to express their unvarnished opinions about diagnostic, social, reform, health plan hassles, Medicare payment, and practice-management issues.

Out into the Open

The AMA giant has crawled out of its cocoon by reaching out to the public and its members, by launching campaign to address the uninsured issue, by asking its members to contact their senators, and by systematically encouraging members to exchange views with each other and categorizing issues that concern doctors.

1 comment:

ObGynThoughts said...

Still too little and too late and not at all focused on the truly central issues (in my mind)