August 8, 2001
Contact: Kathryn Serkes, 202-333-3855
Doctors Expose AMA’s Secret Pact with Federal Government
Applaud Sen. Lott’s Challenge of AMA Monopoly
( see also "AMA’s Secret Pact with HCFA")
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Washington -- Kathryn Serkes, spokeswoman for the Association of American Physicians (AAPS), issued the following statement in response to a letter sent by Sen. Trent Lott to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson calling for an end to the American Medical Association’s monopoly on "CPT" codes that doctors are required to use to bill Medicare and Medicaid:
"Sen. Lott deserves everyone’s support in his effort to pull the rug out from under the AMA’s secret monopoly on these codes. While it is a very complex issue, any doctor will tell you that the AMA’s stranglehold on government billing has been a major cause of the fear and intimidation in which doctors are now forced to practice medicine.
"Elimination of this AMA cartel will do more to protect patients than any Patients’ Bill of Rights law. We only hope that Sen. Lott’s motivation is indeed patient protection, not political manipulation to curb the AMA’s donations to the Democratic party, and that he’ll see this all the way through.
"The AMA is desperately in need of the Congressional sunshine that Sen. Lott can focus. A 3-judge federal panel in the 9th Circuit has already ruled that the AMA misused its copyright, but getting specifics has been tough.
"In 1997, the AMA’s president finally admitted to the secret contract when questioned at a meeting by the AAPS executive director. The AMA apparently had never informed its members - or physicians at large - about the details of its secret pact. Meeting attendees seemed taken aback -- even more so when the president refused to disclose the details.
"Undeterred, AAPS obtained a copy of the secret AMA/HCFA contract (see "AMA’s Secret Pact with HCFA").
"We’re talking some big bucks here. The AMA admits on its Web site that it makes more money on publishing than from member dues -- to the tune of about $133 million in non-dues revenue, including sales of those expensive CPT code books.
"Let’s take back medicine from this money-making machine of AMA-generated regulation. While the AMA, in its own words, ‘is a successful business entity’ medical practice must remain an ethical profession focused on providing quality care to patients -- not extorting multi-million dollar fees to pay six-figure salaries to Association honchos."######