by David P. Smith
The announcement that the American Medical Association is now advocating the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies in our military is one more piece of evidence that the organization has departed from representing the majority of physicians in this country. The AMA just recently threw it’s weight (which is shrinking) behind the passage of the current proposal for health reform, also, which has drawn the ire of the majority of physicians. The AMA has membership which consists of only 17% of the physicians in this country now; it has been declining for many years now.
Further alienating themselves from the majority of Americans, the AMA also adopted a resolution stating that bans on homosexual “marriage” (quotes are mine) are contributing to health disparities for homosexual couples and the children in their households. The AMA should be adopting a resolution acknowledging that those same health disparities are also due to the homosexuals’ lifestyle choices which are hazards to health, but this is just too politically incorrect for the AMA to consider such a medical fact.
Given that the AMA’s membership among physicians continues to decline, one certainly must wonder how they are able to financially able to keep putting out these liberal policy decisions that are an affront not just to physicians, but to the general public as well. Most people are not aware of this, but most of the revenue to the AMA comes from a copyright which the AMA holds for CPT coding (codes used for medical diagnostic reporting). These codes must be used for all Medicare billing and most private insurance billing by medical providers. Therefore, their revenue is not mainly from membership dues anyway, but from overpriced books (several hundred dollars yearly in cost for these paperback books for an office). The government granted the AMA this monopoly on these codes and they change every year so you have to buy the books every year. Even court challenges have not stopped this unfair practice which leaves physicians with non-competitive prices for something forced upon medical professionals. Congress should nullify this sweetheart deal and bring competitiveness to the process of providing this information.
The AMA’s membership will decline further, most assuredly. In September, the Mississippi State Medical Association delegates voted 209-31 in support of no longer requiring its members to join the AMA. The vote for de-unifying was after two hours of debate. It remains to be seen how many Mississippi physicians will be leaving the AMA, but one thing is obvious from the vote—it won’t be a small number. The AMA will, unfortunately, become more and more liberal in its policies as conservative physicians continue to look elsewhere for representation. Personally, the vote for de-unifying was long overdue. I had been a member of the AMA solely because of the desire to be in the state medical association and have long detested some of their positions. I will not be continuing my membership any longer and never will renew it again. My conscience won’t let me.