The AMA Endorses the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009

July 24, 2009

The AMA is once again in the spotlight, only this time it’s in support of the healthcare reform bill drafted by House Democrats.

In June, the American Medical Association came out against the healthcare reform plan proposed by President Obama. We wrote about the AMA’s objections in an article titled “The AMA and Obama Administration Don't See Eye to Eye on Government-run Healthcare,” noting the AMA’s strong opposition to “a public, government-run insurance plan that pays physicians at Medicare rates.”

A month later, the AMA is singing a different tune and is now supporting the bill drafted by Democrats in the House of Representatives. This has led to “an internal dispute that has resulted in some physicians leaving the nation's largest doctors' association.” In an editorial, Elizabeth Lee Vliet, MD, wrote, “As a protest against their support of the House Health“care” Bill, I have resigned from the AMA after nearly thirty years of membership.”

The AMA sent a letter to House leaders announcing the AMA’s support of America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. Speaking on behalf of the AMA, its president J. James Rohack, MD, said, “We support passage of H.R. 3200, and we look forward to additional constructive dialogue as the long process of passing a health reform bill continues.”

Rohack’s predecessor, Donald Palmisano, MD, a leading surgeon and head of the physician’s group Coalition to Protect Patient’s Rights, is not so optimistic and offers words of caution. “When it comes to health system reform: slow down. Patients’ lives are at risk… Today, in America, we have the best healthcare system in the world — a system that provides urgent, preventative, and long-term care in every community at all hours of the day.”

The AMA criticized the healthcare plan set forth by President Bill Clinton 15 years ago and a month ago strongly opposed President Obama’s plan. Why has the AMA decided to endorse the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009? What do you think about this decision? With the AMA’s backing, will Democrats finally pass legislation to provide healthcare coverage to everybody?