The Washington Times - November 16, 2009, 02:52PM


Not surprisingly, the American Medical Association took umbrage to our recent editorial titled “A proud legacy trashed.”  The response from AMA president Dr. J James Rohack barely addresses the issues our editorial put forth. For one thing, Dr. Rohack tries to explain away the declining membership of the organization, when addressing the issue of the low representation of practicing doctors who are currently members.:

“The AMA’s strength comes from the fact that it is not a partisan organization. It is the nation’s largest physicians organization, and its policies represent all physicians through the AMA’s House of Delegates - the nation’s broadest, most inclusive assembly of physicians and medical students. Delegates representing every state and medical specialty debate and vote on AMA policies on behalf of their physician peers.”


The first sentence is laughable, as the advocacy coming out of the AMA in recent years is full of partisanship.:

On hate crimes ”Improvements are still needed to address disparities in health care for gay men and lesbians. Gay men and lesbians are disproportionately at risk for societal discrimination and violent hate crimes, STDs, a variety of mental health conditions, substance use, and certain cancers.”

On the second amendment: “The tragedy led the Santa Monica, Calif.-based gastroenterologist to devise a plan: He would use his leadership position to tackle the issue of gun-related violence as a public health crisis. Now officially installed as the AMA president, he is calling for an expansion of research into the epidemiology of the problem and improved cooperation between physicians and law enforcement agencies.” 

On Mandatory Parental Consent to Abortion: “Physicians should strongly encourage minors to discuss their pregnancy with their parents. Physicians should explain how parental involvement can be helpful and that parents are generally very understanding and supportive. If a minor expresses concerns about parental involvement, the physician should ensure that the minor’s reluctance is not based on any misperceptions about the likely consequences of parental involvement.

Physicians should not feel or be compelled to require minors to involve their parents before deciding whether to undergo an abortion. The patient, even an adolescent, generally must decide whether, on balance, parental involvement is advisable. Accordingly, minors should ultimately be allowed to decide whether parental involvement is appropriate. Physicians should explain under what circumstances (eg, life-threatening emergency) the minor’s confidentiality will need to be abrogated.”

On Don’t ask Don’t tell Policy in the Military: “That our AMA-RFS encourage our American Medical Association to work to have our US military modify  the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy to provide US military personnel in legal same sex marriages the ability to acknowledge these relationships and to provide equal death benefits and other benefits (including health care coverage) to the dependent children and spouses of legal same sex marriages as now provided to married US military personnel.”

The AMA did adopt a resolution in Houston last week addressing the much needed Medical Liability Reform for doctors, but this happened eight years after the AMA helped push the misnamed Patients’ Bill of Rights legislation through Congress giving malpractice trial lawyers free reign on America’s physicians. The Heritage Foundation points out the costly litigation involved in the legislation:

“Encourage costly litigation. The House bill would expand the types of damages that plan members could recover by permitting states to treat disputes between the plans and their enrollees over the terms of coverage like malpractice lawsuits, with awards for pain and suffering, punitive damages, and other non-economic damages.”

Dr. Rohack points out that while we criticized the AMA for poor representation in its membership of the nation’s doctors, The Washington Times had previously referred to the organization as “the nation’s top doctor’s lobby” and ”a powerful doctor’s lobby” in the past two years. Dr. Rohack, however, fails to note that both references occurred on the news side of our newspaper not the editorial page. 

Finally, the president of the AMA quotes President Ronald Reagan, who spoke out against socialized medicine on behalf of the AMA in 1961.:

“Our health care system can work better for patients and physicians. Ronald Reagan himself put it best when he said, ‘Status quo is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in.’ ” The AMA is committed to being part of the clean-up crew.”

Reagan also said, “I don’t believe in a government that protects us from ourselves.” Dr. Rohack would do his AMA membership well to remember that and understand Reagan’s fight against socialized medicine almost a half-century ago. Listen to Reagan in his own words below: