- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 12, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Supporters of the House health care bill who tout the American Medical Association’s endorsement fail to mention that the AMA no longer represents the majority of American doctors or that it frequently backs left-wing policy proposals.

There was a brief flash of the old AMA earlier this week when the organization’s House of Delegates reconsidered the resolution endorsing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s monstrosity, H.R. 3962. Unfortunately, the resolution was voted down by a wide margin. As a result, the AMA continues to back the health care legislation passed in the House last weekend.

Best known for advocating against health care reform in 1961, the AMA then used its most famous spokesman, Ronald Reagan, for a campaign known as Operation Coffee Cup. The AMA has changed dramatically since the Gipper spoke to America about the dangers of socialized medicine.

In the early 1970s, the organization represented about 75 percent of the nation’s doctors. Scandal, liberal political advocacy and aging membership have driven membership down ever since.

“The AMA represents 17 percent to 19 percent of American physicians. [A] large percentage are either retired nonpracticing doctors, medical students, practicing academics, or they are in government policy positions,” says Kathryn Serkes of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

The AMA wandered into liberal advocacy with its support of the Patients’ Bill of Rights. On the surface, the name gushes good intentions, but as with any “progressive” policy, the substance falls short. Disguised as ending HMO abuses, the ruse was instead a gift to the trial lawyers who target doctors for malpractice lawsuits. By helping Congress pass this legislation in 2001, the medical organization sold out its own members and patients, as health care litigation is a long and costly process, mostly benefiting lawyers in the end.

The AMA also has embraced gun control and attacked the Boy Scouts of America. This week, the AMA formally called for the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

An endorsement from the AMA may have meant something years ago, but that was before the organization transformed itself from the protector of doctors and patients into the midwife of dubious liberal social experiments.

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