The New York Times reports that the American Medical Association "will oppose creation of a government-sponsored insurance plan" because "a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans."
The opposition, which comes as Mr. Obama prepares to address the powerful doctors’ group on Monday in Chicago, could be a major hurdle for advocates of a public insurance plan. The A.M.A., with about 250,000 members, is America’s largest physician organization.
While committed to the goal of affordable health insurance for all, the association had said in a general statement of principles that health services should be “provided through private markets, as they are currently.” It is now reacting, for the first time, to specific legislative proposals being drafted by Congress.
If private insurers are pushed out of the market, the group said, “the corresponding surge in public plan participation would likely lead to an explosion of costs that would need to be absorbed by taxpayers.”
While not the political behemoth it once was, the association probably has more influence than any other group in the health care industry.
The Association represents interests of 180 groups of physicians and the health care industry represents roughly a sixth of the US economy according to President Obama. Combining that fact with the personal care and trust most Americans attribute to their doctors, one would normally consider the policy arguments of the AMA with high regard.
Recent history supports that assumption, for example, with the 2005 Gallup report that showed two-thirds of Americans trusted physicians as having "high" or "very high" "honesty and ethical standards."
Perhaps the NYT story presages a continuation of the downward trend showing they'd fallen to fifth place from second, among the twenty-one professions considered in 2003.
Perhaps it's the company kept by AMA members since "the group has historically had a strong lobbying operation, supplemented by generous campaign donations?" But something must explain the divergence of the policy stance held by the organization as compared to that of single-payer advocates interviewed by Bill Moyers last week.
The positions of these doctors reside at the opposite end of the policy spectrum where they can cite a real-world example where the cost-inflating private-sector was completely eliminated to cut the per-person bill for medical treatment to one-half of what Americans pay.
And the other arguments are in keeping with an unavoidable conclusion, that either Doctors Wolfe and Hmmelstein blatantly lied through the teeth in grandest fashion to their PBS host, or the American Medical Association is advocating policy that designs to favor the best interests of someone besides the American public.
Then ask yourself, just who can you trust to provide the wisest advice to our Congresspeople?
The AMA recorded its own slide down the slope of American trust (which, by the way, ranked nurses the highest in 2005!) while single-payer advocates have been locked out of all the roundtables, so far, because the big-money interests have ensured that their profit must be part of Congress's health-care 'reform' legislation.
Or it won't pass!