The American Medical Association (AMA) is being inundated by tweets from doctors furious that the organization supports the nomination of Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price for secretary of the Health and Human Services Department, according to STAT. The AMA wasted no time with its endorsement, either, as it tweeted its support within six hours of President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement. It also placed a statement on its website to the same effect.
“Dr. Price has been a leader in the development of health policies to advance patient choice and market-based solutions as well as reduce excessive regulatory burdens that diminish time devoted to patient care and increase costs,” the AMA statement says.
Oh, yeah? counter some liberal doctors, who note that the 62-year-old Price is pro-life and against gun control. An open letter title “The AMA Doesn’t Speak for Us,” started by the liberal Clinician Action Network, had garnered about 500 signatures by mid-week.
Zackary Berger, MD, an internist at Johns Hopkins, is the founder of Doctors Against Trump, and if ever a name of an organization said it all…. Berger told STAT in an email: “The AMA is generally a force for the status quo in health care, a physicians’ guild in the old-school style of wheeling, dealing, and horse-trading to keep the billing flowing like a mighty stream into MDs’ coffers.”
Berger has never been an AMA member, but plenty of doctors have. With 250,000 members (about 15% of doctors in the United States, by some estimates), the AMA is by far the biggest physician lobbying group. And lobby it does, about billing, the opioid crisis, prescribing, marijuana research, and telemedicine, just to name some topics. In the first nine months of this year, the group spent $15 million on lobbying.
Price is an AMA member. He is also a member of the conservative Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). The group has a journal which, according to STAT, “has advanced discredited theories, such as the notions that abortions cause breast cancer, vaccines cause autism, and HIV does not cause AIDS.”