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  • Doctors, Medical Students Abandon AMA in Search of Alternatives

    The American Medical Association lost 5 percent of its membership last year as the physician group faced fallout from its endorsement of Obamacare and refusal to retreat from the law’s most controversial provisions.

    As physicians and medical school students back away from the well-known organization, they’re turning to upstarts like Docs4PatientCare and the Benjamin Rush Society, two alternatives to the AMA.

    Docs4PatientCare maintains contact with about 4,000 physicians who are primarily concerned about preserving the doctor-patient relationship. Many of them became active after the AMA’s endorsement of Obamacare in 2009. That endorsement was touted by President Obama and liberals in Congress to build support for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

    The Benjamin Rush Society has 13 chapters across the country, mostly at medical schools. It was created to offer an alternative perspective to government-run health care. The group’s members include medical students, residents, fellows and doctors.

    Both groups are an alternative to the AMA, which has watched its membership erode in recent years. The recent one-year decline of 12,000 members is the latest indication of the AMA’s waning influence.

    Even at the height of the Obamacare debate, the AMA represented only 17 percent of physicians in America. Of those members, about one-third are in training (residents or students) and a number are retired or in academic medicine. Physicians pay $420 to be an AMA member.

    Dr. Mark Neerhof of Chicago attributes the AMA’s membership decline to the organization’s increased political activity — a change that began when the AMA secured exclusive rights from the government to publish medical billing codes. As that cozy relationship with the government blossomed, the AMA lost focus of representing physicians, Neerhof said.

    Docs4PatientCare is filling that void. Neerhof, an executive board member, joined the group during the Obamacare debate when he wanted to better understand the implications of the law and educate other physicians about its impact on their profession. Dr. Hal Scherz, the group’s founder, was awarded the 2011 Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship from Heritage.

    “I am fortunate enough to be a physician and I am fortunate enough to be a part of the greatest health-care system in the world, in the greatest country in the world,” Neerhof said. “I don’t want to see that health-care system destroyed. And that’s what I see Obamacare doing.”

    The Benjamin Rush Society has a similar mission. Jeet Guram is one of the organization’s chapter leaders at Harvard Medical School. He’s helped bring market-based ideas to the campus and introduce his fellow students to conservative health policy solutions.

    “Many of our speakers offered a direct counterpoint to a liberal point of view we heard in the classroom,” said Guram, who is spending the summer as a fellow at Heritage’s Center for Health Policy Studies. “Through our events, students learned about the benefits of market-based approaches to health reform. We aim to expand the range of ideas in the health policy discussion and to show students that there are reasonable, smart, and innovative scholars with conservative values working on health policy issues.”

    At the AMA, meanwhile, some members who haven’t bolted over Obamacare have tried to reform the organization from within. But attempts to do so appear futile. This week at the organization’s annual meeting in Chicago, an overwhelming number of AMA members voted to reaffirm the group’s support for Obamacare’s individual mandate. The final vote was 326-165.

    Neerhof said the debate over the individual mandate was a sideshow to the real threat Obamacare poses to the doctor-patient relationship, quality of health care, and financial solvency of America.

    “The AMA really doesn’t speak for practicing physicians,” Neerhof said. “We don’t have a voice. And that’s what Docs4PatientCare intends to be — a voice for the practicing physician.”

    Posted in Obamacare, Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    20 Responses to Doctors, Medical Students Abandon AMA in Search of Alternatives

    1. Tim AZ says:

      It's good to see that the AMA is shrivelling on the vine in the same way that the Old Left Media is. It's been a long time coming.

      • Drew Kreegel, M.D. says:

        I couldn't agree more. The AMA immediately jumped into bed with Hillary back in 1993 for Hillarycare and they repeated the same tune with Obamacare.They so willingly played into Obama's charade with members in there white jackets at the White House prior to the congressional vote, giving the public the impression that America's doctors were largely in support of the bill. The AMA is a left-wing organization which has not furthered the cause of patient or physician interest in a long time.They have been successful at securing total proprietary control of medical service coding for billing, their major accomplishment. Drew A. Kreegel, M.D. FACS

    2. Deb says:

      Is there a conservative group for nurses who do not support Obamacare? The ANA (American Nurses Association) is another group that (I think) is supportive of Obama and the health care policy. Many nurses do not support Obamacare. Wouldn't it be great if doctors and nurses could come together on this? We are on the same team, aren't we? By working together it seems we would have a larger voice and the patients would benefit…there is also a nurse-patient relationship to be concerned about. Doctors and nurses are the best folks to figure out the health care system…we should think about coming together on this.

      • tod rubin says:


        This is Dr. Tod Rubin, one of Dr. Neerhof's fellow board members in D4PC. I could not agree with you more and I'm glad to hear that the RNs are not buying into Obamacare like the ANA would have us believe. We would love to have you and your RN collegues join us in D4PC. Our D4PC Alliance is for RNs and all non-physician healthcare professionals. It is being led by an RN in Chicago. Please email me if you want more info on how we can work together. tlr4444@yahoo.com

      • Rob Bluey says:

        Thanks for your note, Deb. I've checked with Docs4PatientCare. They are unaware of a similar organization for nurses. Please let me know if you find one!

    3. Marie says:

      Another excellent alternative is the American Association for Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) which has advocated for "private" vs "government" medicine for over 60 years. AAPS created http://www.TakeBackMedicine.com and its executive director Dr. Jane Orient has written what might be the definitive analysis of the provisions of the PPACA – it's called "Obamacare: what is in it" and is available on their website – best part is that it's only SEVEN pages long.

    4. Bobbie says:

      Thank you to all the health providers sincere in their work and the health of their patients. The Doctors that fighti against this indecent, rudely crude government game playing with our individual responsibility to our individual Lives! Obama should be directly questioned on all policies he added and took away, especially that violate our privacy (that existed before Obama) and eliminate our choices. Give us the answer, WHY!? It's DANGER when our health is under the control of government who can make us healthy just as well as kill us. crises at government's whim! We don't need the third wheel of government. Keep insurance by choice! REMOVE OBAMACARE IT IS NOT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF AMERICA!

    5. Terri says:

      Great idea, Deb! Sounds like you need to get together with Dr. Mark Neerhof or Dr. Hal Scherz. It does make sense that doctors and nurses work together to expose Obamacare for what it really is. The government does not need to be involved with the doctor/patient, nurse/patient relationship. If you and other nurses feel strongly enough, you should get involved, if not in an already existing group, then in contacting those involved in creating Docs4PatientCare or the Benjamin Rush Society. Good luck!

    6. AmerMedicalAssn says:

      The American Medical Association is the largest physician organization in the nation with about a quarter of a million members – no other group even comes close. The AMA strives to represent physicians from all states and specialties through a representative democratic process. Since 1901, the AMA House of Delegates has been the democratic forum for all of medicine, gathering physicians from all fields to shape the future of medicine. While some physicians did leave the organization because they disagreed with the AMA's position on health system reform, others joined the AMA because of its support for health reform. Since 2006, the AMA has supported individual responsibility to have health insurance that covers catastrophic care and preventive services, along with financial assistance for those who cannot afford coverage on their own. Individual responsibility has bipartisan roots from proposals in the late 1980s and 1990s authored by the Heritage Foundation, and as part of health reform in Massachusetts.

      • mtbwalt says:

        15% of practicing US docs are members of the AMA and those are the 15% that most agree with your left-wing views. Don't pretend you represent even a significant pleurality of physicians. But hey, your free memberships for medical students and residents definitely pump up the numbers.

        Your policies divided and conquered physicians at a time when we needed a unified voice. The lack of efficacy of the AMA lobbyists during the health reform process would have been comical were it not so tragic. Nice job with tort reform! Nice job favoring ACOs and capitation.

    7. AmerMedicalAssn says:

      The AMA is dedicated to representing and supporting all physicians and medical students throughout the stages of their career. The AMA helps all physicians in their everyday practice through educational resources and tools to handle interactions with health insurers, legal expertise, assistance evaluating and adopting health IT, and advocacy. One example of this is strong opposition to across-the-board Medicare cuts, such as the failed Medicare physician payment formula known as SGR, which poses a threat to all physician practices and compromise patients’ access to care. The AMA also strongly supports proven medical liability reforms like those working in states such as California and Texas to strike a reasonable balance between the needs of patients who have been harmed and the needs of millions of Americans who need affordable, accessible medical care.We will continue to advocate for policies that will help physicians thrive as we move medicine forward together.

    8. Mark L says:

      Good new! Now, if we can eliminate the AMA's lock on federal and state legislatures and get state licensure requirements eliminated, we'd be making some progress.

    9. Alieta Eck, MD says:

      The other advocate for the private physician-patient relationship, working tirelessly since 1943, is the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPSonline.org). How wonderful to see medical students come forward early in their careers to learn and understand the issues before them. They are the future of medicine and may as well gain control now before it is too late.

    10. Jeanne Stotler says:

      Actually only 15 % of Md's belong to AMA and the ones I talk too are against Obamacare. I quit hospital nursing out of frustration, I was doing more paper work than patient care, we ould have 8 patients on day shilft and you cannot care for 8 pt's. properly and do the paper work required. I went to private duty and I enjoyed it as I could give all the TLC to the patient , most of all I the time to listen to them.

    11. tod rubin says:

      Are you people not reading the replies? D4PC does have an organization for allied healthcare professionals, the D4PC Alliance. The info is above and on the website, http://www.d4pc.org. I love seeing the AMA responding to these developments. Apparently D4PC. AAPS and others are irritating to them now that the "cat is out of the bag". BTW, the AMA does not support "individual responsibility" to obtain medical insurance. That is their new buzzword as this issue evolves and the American public overwhelmingly rejects "socialized" medicine. Their continued endorsement of the "individual mandate" IS NOT individual responsibility, but government coercion and control. What other individual reponsible behavior to purchase a product results in a government imposed a penalty for not doing? The AMA is irrelevant as far as an advocacy group for physicians and their patients. They may be a helpful allie for Washington politicians, but their reputation as a representative organization for America's physicians is permanently tarnished.

    12. MFrank says:

      As an Alliance Member of Docs 4 Patient Care, I can tell you that we have quite a cross section of Americans that are fed up with government control of nearly everything in our lives, but healthcare is the most serious of all. Our website, http://www.docs4patientcare.org clearly explains what is wrong with Obamacare and our prescription to fix it correctly.

      We see active, practicing doctors running away as fast as they can from the AMA, who are an arm of the federal government, taking in $100,000 million a year of taxpayer money for the rights to the doctor coding system. The AMA also sells all sorts of insurance policies to doctors. At the very bottom of their list of importance is their doctor membership. The AMA is a disgrace.

    13. jeff says:

      It is too bad the AMA responds to blogs and articles in a defensive manner. As long as you do not support doctors and patients (which you don't and is not debatable) your membership will hemorrhage. You either wake up and do a 180 degree turn or agree to continue down the path of being a government pawn forever.

      I recommend all AMA members google the topic Dr Ed. Anis and Medicare. (Actually, I recommend all citizens watch this video that takes place in an empty, rented out, Madison Square Garden.) Watch the video where he speaks on national TV the night after Pres. Kennedy pushed Medicare to the nation. That was back when the AMA represented doctors and patients and he predicted what would happen when the government got more powerful in health care. The AMA just supported a bill that completes this terrible relationship forever and I am sure Dr Anis is rolling over in his grave in shame. I guess Dr Anis didn't predict $75 million/year hush fund from Uncle Sam.

      Answer me this: since we all knew BEFORE Obamacare was passed that the IPAB would be the financial rationing board for physicians and the "death panel" for treatment for patients, why would you support a bill when your "big physician initiative" was to get rid of a faulty SGR payment scale? Did you think the IPAB would treat us more fairly that the SGR? You guys are a joke and physicians and patients know it.

    14. guest says:

      There is a battle that is going to occur between private physicians and academic physicians. Private physicians will generally lean conservative while academic physicians lean liberal. I really believe most private practice physicians oppose board recertification, with my own viewpoint being it is useless after passing your first boards. Academic physicians will support it. The ABIM makes big bucks off it and I have never heard where that money goes. Furthermore, how can you have it that certain physicians are grandfathered thru and do not have to have a certain level of supposed competence that a board exam implies while others have to have this standard to see patients. Wouldn't one say based on this logic that patients would be at risk until these doctors pass away in the next 20 or 30 years?

    15. Ben Dover says:

      Competition is a good thing. Competition will force the AMA to be more responsive to, and representative of, their membership.

    16. CraigJCasey says:

      to those left-wing doctors that Point to the fact the AMA supports the affordable care act is proof that "doctors" support the reform law. Which I never understood, because the cuts doctors Medicare reimbursements. the price fixing is not reform: http://www.cobrahealth.com/Obamacare.html

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