American Medical Association

Infobox Organization
name = American Medical Association


image_border =
size =
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msize =
mcaption =
motto = Helping Doctors Help Patients
Mission Statement= to promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public heath
formation = 1847
type = professional association
headquarters = Chicago, Illinois
location = flagicon|USA United States
membership = 266325Fact|date=January 2008
language = English
leader_title = President
leader_name = Nancy H. Nielsen
key_people = Nathan Smith Davis
num_staff =
budget =
website = [http://www.ama-assn.org ama-assn.org]
The American Medical Association (AMA), founded in 1847 and incorporated 1897, [cite web
url = http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/1923.html
title =AMA (AMA History) 1847 to 1899
publisher =
accessdate = 2007-11-18
] is the largest association of physicians and medical students in the United States. The AMA's mission is to promote the art and science of medicine for the betterment of the public health, to advance the interests of physicians and their patients, to promote public health, to lobby for legislation favorable to physicians and patients, and to raise money for medical education. The Association also publishes the "Journal of the American Medical Association" (JAMA), which has the largest circulation of any weekly medical journal in the world. [http://jama.ama-assn.org/misc/aboutjama.dtl About JAMA: JAMA website] ] The AMA also publishes a list of Physician Specialty Codes which are a standard method in the U.S. for identifying physician and practice specialties. Ronald M. Davis MD finished his term as President on June 17, 2008 at which time Nancy H Nielsen MD, PhD was sworn in as the Association's 163rd President. [ [http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/16428.html AMA (Comm) Ronald M. Davis, MD, named AMA president-elect ] ]

History

Charitable activities

*The AMA Foundation provides approximately $1,000,000 annually in tuition assistance to financially constrained students (who now graduate medical school with an average debt load of well over $100,000 each).
*Funds awareness projects about health literacy.
*Supports research funding for students and fellows around the U.S.
*Provides grants to community projects designed to encourage healthy lifestyles (of diet and exercise, good sleep habits, etc.)
*The Worldscopes program has a goal of providing over 100,000 stethoscopes to third world countries, donated by physicians and students.

Political positions

*For most of the twentieth century, the AMA opposed publicly-funded health care because of concerns physicians have had over the financial implications of such plans and the worries that a prominent government role in coordinating medical financing would inappropriately interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. When Progressive Era advocates proposed compulsory health insurance in the second decade of the twentieth century, the AMA initially took a cooperative and moderately open position to the idea, but by 1918 the Association had moved to a strongly oppositional position regarding compulsory health insurance. Ronald Numbers' 1978 book, "Almost Persuaded: American Physicians and Compulsory Health Insurance, 1912-1920", provides what is probably the best account of the AMA's policy positions during this early period.
*In the 1930s, the AMA attempted to prohibit its members from working for the primitive health maintenance organizations that sprung up during the Great Depression. The AMA's subsequent conviction for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. "American Medical Ass'n. v. United States", ussc|317|519|1943.
*The AMA's vehement campaign against Medicare in the 1950s and 1960s included the Operation Coffee Cup supported by Ronald Reagan. Since the enactment of Medicare, the AMA stated that it "continues to oppose attempts to cut Medicare funding or shift increased costs to beneficiaries at the expense of the quality or accessibility of care" and "strongly supports subsidization of prescription drugs for Medicare patients based on means testing". The AMA also campaigns to raise Medicare payments to physicians, arguing that increases will protect seniors' access to health care. In the 1990s, it was part of the coalition that defeated the health care reform proposed by President Bill Clinton.
*The AMA has given high priority to supporting changes in medical malpractice law to limit damage awards, which, it contends, makes it difficult for patients to find appropriate medical care. In many states, high risk specialists have moved to other states with such limits. For example, in 2004, not a single neurosurgeon remained in the entire southern half of Illinois. The main legislative emphasis in multiple states has been to effect caps on the amount that patients can receive for pain and suffering. These costs for pain and suffering are only those that exceed the actual costs of healthcare and lost income. Multiple states found that limiting pain and suffering costs has actually dramatically slowed increases in the cost of medical malpractice insurance. Texas, having recently enacted such reforms, reported that all major malpractice insurers in 2005 were able to offer either no increase or a decrease in premiums to physicians. At the same time however, states without caps also experienced similar results; this suggests the cyclical nature of insurance markets may have actually been responsible. Some economic studies have found that caps have historically had a dubious effect on premium rates. [ [http://www.weissratings.com/News/Ins_General/20030602pc.htm Weiss Ratings News: Medical Malpractice Caps Fail to Prevent Premium Increases, According to Weiss Ratings Study ] ] Nevertheless, the AMA believes the caps may alleviate what is often perceived as an excessively litigious environment for many doctors.
*Another top priority of the AMA is to lobby for change to the federal tax codes to allow the current health insurance system (based on employment) to be purchased by individuals. Such changes could possibly allow millions of currently uninsured Americans to be able to afford insurance through a series of refundable tax credits based on income (for example, the lower your income, the greater your credit).
*The AMA has made efforts to respond to health care disparities.
**As such the AMA created an Advisory committees to assess the nature of disparities within different racial and ethnic groups [ [http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/7639.html AMA (Public Health) Eliminating health disparities ] ] . One such committee focuses on the health of the Gay, Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender community. In 2005, the AMA president Edward Hill, MD gave a keynote address to the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association at its annual conference. [ [http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/15741.html AMA (GLBT) News release from the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association ] ] Since that time, the AMA has worked closely with GLMA to develop AMA policy towards better health care access for LGBT patients and better working environments for LGBT physicians and medical students [ [http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/14754.html AMA (GLBT) AMA policy regarding sexual orientation ] ] .
**The AMA responded to the government estimate that more than 35 million Americans live in underserved areas by stating it would take 16,000 doctors to immediately fill that need, and the gap is expected to widen due to rising population and aging work force. "And that will mostly be felt in rural America," said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., adding, "We're facing a real crisis." Fueling the shortage crisis are the restrictions on allowing foreign physicians to work in the U.S. post the September 11, 2001 attack, and may become more restrictive after the attempted terrorist bombings June 2007 in Britain, still under investigation, linked to foreign [http://jindabyne.yourguide.com.au/detail.asp?story_id=1024911&src=topstories] [http://theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,22093642-601,00.html?from=public_rss] doctors. [http://www.boston.com/yourlife/health/diseases/articles/2007/07/22/shortage_of_doctors_affects_rural_us/ Shortage of doctors affects rural U.S., retrieved 2007-07-22] [http://www.philly.com/philly/health_and_science/20070722_Why_foreign_doctors_are_in_shorter_supply.html Short supply of foreign doctors, retrieved 2007-07-22]
*In June 2007, at its annual meeting, the AMA, discussed its opposition to a fast-spreading nationwide trend for medical clinics to open up in supermarkets and drugstores. The AMA identified at least two problems with in-store clinics: potential conflict of interest, and potential jeopardized quality of care. The AMA went on to rally state and federal agencies to investigate the relationship between the operating clinics and the pharmacy chains to decide if this practice should be prohibited or regulated. Dr. Peter Carmel, neurosurgeon and AMA board member asked, "If you own both sides of the operation, shouldn't people look at that?" The AMA also noted some employers reduce or waive the copayment if an employee goes to the retail clinic instead of the doctor's office, inferring that this practice might negatively affect quality of care. [http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/articles/070720/20clinics.htm In-store clinics, retrieved 2007-07-22]
* The AMA has affirmed, through continual policy statement (policies H-460.957,H-460.974,H-460.964,H-460.991, and resolution 506-2007 for example), its support for appropriate and compassionate use of animals in biomedical research programs, and its opposition to the actions of other groups that impede such research, such as some actions from animal rights groups, and its opposition to legislation that unduly restricts such research.

Criticisms

Critics of the American Medical Association, including economist Milton Friedman, have asserted that the organization acts as a government-sanctioned guild and has attempted to increase physicians' wages and fees limit by influencing limitations on the supply of physicians and non-physician competition. In Free to Choose, Friedman said, "The AMA has engaged in extensive litigation charging chiropractors and osteopaths with the unlicensed practice of medicine, in an attempt to restrict them to as narrow an area as possible."

"Profession and monopoly", a book published in 1975 is critical of the AMA for limiting the supply of physicians and inflating the cost of medical care in the United States. The book claims that physician supply is kept low by the AMA to ensure high pay for practicing physicians. It states that in the United States the number, curriculum, and size of medical schools are restricted by state licensing boards controlled by representatives of state medical societies associated with the AMA. The book is also critical of the ethical rules adopted by the AMA which restrict advertisement and other types of competition between professionals, it points out that advertising and bargaining can result in expulsion from the AMA and legal revocation of licenses. The book also states that before 1912 the AMA included uniform fees for specific medical procedures in its official code of ethics. The AMA's influence on hospital regulation was also criticized in the book. [cite book
last =Berlant
first =Jeffrey
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =Profession and Monopoly: a study of medicine in the United States and Great Britain
publisher =University of California Press
year=1975
location =
pages =
url =http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1081816
doi =
id =
isbn =0520027345
]

The AMA is also criticized because it derives a significant portion of its income by selling physician licensure data to pharmaceutical companies, which those entities use to track physician prescribing. [For Sale: Physicians' Prescribing Data [http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/354/26/2745] ] It continues to do this despite complaints by some physicians and others, claiming approximately $33 million in revenue in 2005 from this practice. However, the AMA does allow physicians to "opt-out" of having their information shared through the Physician Data Restriction Program (PDRP).

Physician membership in the group has decreased to lower than 19% of practicing physicians. In 2004, AMA reported membership totals of 244,569, which included retired and practicing physicians along with medical students, residents, and fellows. The medical school section (MSS) reported totals of 48,868 members, while the resident and fellow section (RFS) reported 24,069 members. Combined they account for almost 30% of AMA members. [http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/471/bot20A06.doc] If every other member of the AMA was a fully qualified practicing physician then the AMA would represent 19% of America's practicing physicians (There are currently approximately 900,000 practicing physicians in America). However, MedPage Today estimates that the AMA only represents 135,300 "real, practicing physicians" as of 2005 (15.0% of the United States practicing physicians). [http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/PracticeManagement/tb/3516] When asked about this, Jeremy Lazarus, MD, a speaker in the AMA House of Delegates, stated that membership was stable, avoiding commenting on the low overall numbers (2005 AMSA annual meeting, AMA vs. PNHP healthcare debate, Arlington, Va.).

ee also

* AMA Scientific Achievement Award
* Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse
* A Matter of Degree program
* American Osteopathic Association
* National Physicians Alliance

References

Further reading

* Burrow, James G. "AMA: Voice of American Medicine." Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1963.
* Campion, Frank. "The AMA and U.S. Health Policy Since 1940." Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1984.
* Fishbein, Morris. "History of the American Medical Association, 1847-1947." Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1947.
* Numbers, Ronald. "Almost Persuaded: American Physicians and Compulsory Health Insurance, 1912-1920". Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978.
* Poen, Monte. "Harry S. Truman versus the Medical Lobby: The Genesis of Medicare". Columbia, MO: The University of Missouri Press, 1979.
* Starr, Paul. "The Social Transformation of American Medicine: The Rise of a Sovereign Profession and the Making of a Vast Industry". New York: Basic Books, 1982.

External links

* [http://www.ama-assn.org/ AMA home page]
* [http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.asp?ID=D000000068&Name=American+Medical+Assn AMA Political Contributions (Opensecrets.org)]
* [http://www.ama-assn.org/go/history AMA Archives]


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