AMA Leadership...Interesting Opinions

Bert A. Loftman, MD
Article Type: 
Fall 1996
Volume Number: 
Issue Number: 

The AMNews (July 8/15) reports on the views of its leaders. I would like to make a few comments about their positions regarding health care reform and dropping membership.

“This has been our most successful season of Washington lobbying in more than 20 years. As a result, no new regulatory restrictions are being placed on our profession,” said outgoing AMA President Lonnie R. Bristow, MD. Interesting. And I thought that the AMA legislative priorities were to support more insurance regulations about portability and gag clauses.

“Instead of trying to stop change, it is time we took control of it,” says outgoing Organized Medical Staff Section (OMSS) Speaker Lee McCormick. When I asked him if he thought patient choice was important for quality, he said, “no.” Interesting. And I thought America was about individual freedom and patient choice.

President-elect Percy Wootton, MD is called the ultimate patient advocate. Interesting. Does this mean that he rejects government socialized and corporate socialized medicine? Perhaps if patients had choice, we would not have to make patient advocacy a priority.

Outgoing Executive Vice President James S. Todd, MD was asked, “if at some point down the road, the country would turn to a single payer system?” He answered, “yes.” Interesting.

The new AMA Executive Vice President P. John Seward, MD says that “nothing on our agenda is more urgent” than the falling AMA membership. In a speech at the OMSS section he said that membership recruitment rather than issues was more important. Interesting. Perhaps our leaders positions on issues is the reason why AMA membership is falling.

Hope springs eternal. New AMA President Daniel “Stormy” Johnson, MD says “give patients a choice.” He challenges the myth that “people are too stupid to make decisions for themselves.” ...Dr. Johnson  advocates tax-free MSAs. It is the force of tax breaks to corporate socialized medicine and taxes feeding government socialized medicine that causes this loss of choice.

Health care reform will occur from some form of tax reform and the AMA Center for Health Policy Analysis is studying this issue. The OMSS passed a resolution requesting an update on this report at their next meeting. I hope the AMA will do the same.

I understand that the AMA is diverse and all views are legitimate. However, the grass roots membership passes resolutions concerning tax-free MSAs yet it is a poor step child. Our lobbying and public relations give very little billing to health care reform by tax reform. If the AMA gave equal billing, perhaps its membership would rise.

Bert A. Loftman, MD
Atlanta, GA

Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 1996;1(3):2. Copyright ©1996 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

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