If the AMA had done its job of representing its constituents, the American people and Congress would have known what doctors really thought about ObamaCare before the final vote was taken. Instead, the “people and doctors of America have been betrayed by self-serving medical leaders,” states Adam Frederic Dorin, M.D., a San Diego anesthesiologist and founder of PhysiciansAgainstObamacare.org.
From its coveted “place at the table,” the AMA “stakeholder” was most interested in defending its own status and its share of the takings expected from the “transformational change.”
“The ‘change’ is hardly a reform,” Dorin writes in the fall issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. It will create “an overwhelming burden of increased costs, fees, and taxes.” Any “protection” in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is for the interests of trial lawyers.
The AMA chose to disregard the majority dissent within its own ranks, and despite ample opportunity to reverse its misguided endorsement of PPACA, failed to do so. One has to ask: “Why?”
With its net revenue of $70 million to $100 million annually from its exclusive contract with the government to develop and sell billing codes, far greater than its dues revenue, the AMA can apparently afford to disregard the views of doctors, Dorin writes.
AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, M.D., defended the contract, saying “we should all be proud” of the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®), in the AMA eVoice of Aug 27, 2010. As he points out, “The AMA derives no income from the federal government for the agreement.” That is true, but disingenuous. The agreement enables the AMA to collect from doctors, who are forced to purchase updated code books each year, and to collect royalties from the licensing of the billing codes.
Wilson downplays the significance of the agreement, and the AMA does not make the wording readily accessible to members. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) called attention to it in 1998.
While Wilson says the CPT® “is to the health care industry what a dictionary is to the publishing industry,” CPT® is more like a straitjacket for the industry than a dictionary. It does not reflect usage, but dictates it. By refusing to assign a code, the AMA can prevent payment for innovative procedures. And for the AMA, CPT® is like a ball and chain. If it strays too far from government’s wishes by advocating strongly for doctors, the AMA jeopardizes its cash cow.
As Americans learn what PPACA will mean for quality and access to medical services, “we are witnessing an ever-increasing chorus of Americans —from think tanks to tea partiers to accountants—who are decrying the underhanded tactics” used to get the legislation passed, including the exploitation of the AMA’s claim to speak for doctors.
Dorin helped organize the National Doctors Tea Party http://www.doctorsteaparty.us/ on Aug 7 in San Diego to call for the repeal of ObamaCare, and to publicize the fact that the AMA does not represent the majority of doctors’ views on this legislation.
The Hill published a follow-up article on 9/7/2010. Click here to read and leave a comment.