Community Commentary: American Medical Assn. losing its credibility, membership

October 08, 2011|By Chriss Street

Editor's note: This article was also recently published on


Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute, has written an important article in Forbes analyzing new survey results that demonstrate that 87% of medical physicians in the United States no longer view the American Medical Assn. as representing their views and interests.

"Much of that dissatisfaction stems from the organization's support for President Obama's contentious health care reform package," Pipes states.

The survey, conducted by physician recruitment firm Jackson & Coker, discovered that more than three times as many doctors believed that the quality of American health care would "deteriorate" rather than "improve" under ObamaCare; and 9 of 10 physicians think ObamaCare will have a negative impact on their profession.


Most member-driven organizations would collapse with such negative trends, but the AMA survives by collecting up to $70 million from its exclusive relationship with the federal government to provide Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes in direct conflict with medical doctors.

The CPT codes are maintained by the Chicago-based AMA to describe medical, surgical and diagnostic services. It is designed to communicate a uniform set of information about medical services and procedures to physicians, patients, accreditation organizations and payers for administrative, financial and Medicare and Medicaid billing coders.

These codes have been designated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to be published for treatment guidelines and billings.

Federal and state spending on healthcare is $1.1 trillion, about 42% of all healthcare spending in the U.S. last year. CPT codes set average physician and hospital reimbursement rates.

For example, the average physician rates for treating Medicare beneficiaries is 81% of the rate private insurers pay. For Medicaid patients, the reimbursements are just 56% of the private rate.

AMA 2009 revenue, according to "Hoover's Company Profiles," was $248 million, with $70 million of income coming from "publishing." This is an especially large percentage of revenue, considering that the AMA membership dues were only $42 million.

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