If you think Obamacare is bad for consumers and patients think about this: how would you like to spend between twelve and sixteen years of your life in grueling and expensive academic training, only to have politicians and bureaucrats dictating to you years later how you will practice your craft and how much money you’ll be allowed to earn?
Let’s be clear about medical doctors. Any individual who can genuinely earn the title “M.D.” is worthy of significant respect, and one would hope that an entire association of M.D.’s would be equally as worthy. Unfortunately the American Medical Association – the professional group that has purported to represent physicians in the U.S. for over a century - managed to foolishly get itself caught in the crossfire of the “Obamacare” war over the past few years. Now, MD’s – both those few who remain members of the AMA and the majority of physicians who are not members – as well as the practice of medicine itself, are all set to be big losers in the coming months and years.
According to their website, the association’s stated 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.” It is also noteworthy that the group originally opposed Medicare, the U.S. federal government’s program that provides healthcare reimbursements for elderly and disabled persons, fearing that “undue government intrusion” in the medical profession would damage the doctor-patient relationship and be detrimental to the profession itself.
But soon after Medicare’s beginnings in 1965, the A.M.A. changed their position. The association’s members and leadership both realized that government-funded health care through Medicare produced a steady stream of patients and more guaranteed reimbursements for services – in short Medicare in its early days guaranteed wages for MD’s. Thus for all of my lifetime, the A.M.A. has aggressively lobbied the U.S. Congress against cuts in Medicare funding as they have periodically been proposed.
Over the years the A.M.A. has also supported tight government limits on medical school entries – likely because doing so limited the “supply” of new M.D.’s, drove up the demand for existing MD’s, and thereby enhanced the wages of those who actually managed to get in to the profession. On this point the late Economist Milton Freidman once noted that the A.M.A. had become a “guild,” and was shielding its present-day members from the potential competition of future would-be Doctors.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.