The American Medical Association’s Shaky Stance on Socialized Medicine | Citizens Against Government Waste
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The American Medical Association’s Shaky Stance on Socialized Medicine

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


As the American Medical Association’s (AMA) shrinking membership tilts further and further to the left, real questions need to be asked about the organization’s influence over the Medicare for All debate. 

After the AMA resisted Medicare in 1966, roughly 70 percent of doctors were registered members of the group.  During the Clinton era, the AMA began to lose political sway when membership numbers dropped to only 43 percent of doctors and medical students.  Political opinion within the group was fragmented, and doctors started to abandon the AMA to join their respected specialist groups.  In 2009, the AMA’s membership supported the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

On May 10, 2019, the Council on Medical Service of the AMA issued its proposal for reform, indicating the AMA’s opposition to Medicare for All.  However, the 2019 annual meeting, which ended on June 12, 2019, showed that this was not a unified front amongst the House of Delegates.  During the meeting, the House of Delegates voted to maintain opposition to single-payer as the official policy position of the AMA, but only 53 percent of delegates were on board, with 47 percent against.  They narrowly voted down an amendment to shift the AMA’s position to neutral and according to the June 11 edition of Modern Healthcare, the vote ended days of “contentious debate that pitted the organization’s leadership against a contingent represented largely by medical students.”

In the AMA 2016 Annual Report, the association claimed approximately 240,000 members, including medical students and retired physicians.  It is estimated that one-fifth of these members are not active physicians and stated that the AMA is only representative of around 17 percent of all active physicians.  With only 17 percent of doctors being represented, it is not likely that the AMA is accurately speaking for the nation’s community of physicians.  But the AMA’s opinion should not be dismissed outright.  The clout of its younger members and its historic roots could continue tilt the debate toward supporting Medicare for All.

Given the AMA’s lack of representation, the group is sadly out of touch with what most doctors believe. Fundamentally, most doctors mirror the public opposition to socialized medicine when told about the dire consequences.  A January 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that public support for government-run healthcare drops when citizens were told Medicare for All would likely lead to delays in getting care, hurt the current Medicare program, or increase taxes.  Instead of blindly following AMA’s road to socialism, taxpayers should trust their gut and oppose Medicare for All.

-- Angela McCallum

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