Yet after decades of love and appreciation for the ways in which big government can shelter you from market competition and put money in your pocket, and with its membership dramatically in decline, the A.M.A. changed its public policy stance in mid-2009. After only a few months of President Obama in the White House, it was at that time that the association reverted back to being skeptical of government power, and publicly opposed President Obama’s healthcare “reforms”.
The federal government had at that point been exhibiting a years-long pattern of dictating to physicians how much they would be paid for specific procedures (rather than allowing doctors to set their own rates for services), and A.M.A. membership had begun to dwindle party as a result of this loss. The association thus surmised that Obamacare would give the government even more power to determine how much doctors could be paid, and told the President “no” regarding his early legislative efforts.
But months later the A.M.A. changed their minds again. Facing pressure from both the White House, and President Obama’s “Organizing for America” community organizer group, the A.M.A. hedged a bit back in 2010 and sheepishly agreed to Obama’s reforms “in principle.” This caused even more member physicians to leave the association, even as the President portrayed it as a “courageous” move.
But wait, there’s more! In June of 2012, less than four months before the presidential election, the A.M.A. changed its collective minds yet again, when the association’s President Dr. Peter Carmel announced their “official” renewed opposition to Obamacare. At the association’s annual summer convention, Carmel declared what many of us had been concerned about for quite some time; that placing more government bureaucrats and lawyers between a patient and a physician, Obamacare would make healthcare more expensive and less rewarding for all involved. Further, Carmel noted that President Obama’s law does not address the dwindling of Medicare reimbursements to M.D.’s, nor does it address the ever-escalating threat of medical malpractice lawsuits, a major source of healthcare cost increases.
And now here we are, a little more than a year after the A.M.A. “officially” decided that Obamcare was a bad deal, and we’re all experiencing the anguish of the federal take-over of the medical profession. The otherwise honorable and essential work of high educated physicians will be gradually replaced with less educated and less costly nurses and “P.A.’s” (physician’s assistants); existing physicians will have their reimbursement rates further reduced; veteran doctors are already leaving the profession or abandoning their small private practices to find a job at larger hospitals and corporately owned facilities; and some physicians are fighting to continue practicing their craft entirely apart from any involvement with insurance companies (check out the website Iwantdirectcare.com for evidence of healthcare without insurance).
President Thomas Jefferson once famously said that “a government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have." The A.M.A.’s flirtation with the guarantee of patients via Medicare, and the present-day derailing of the medical profession via Obamacare, illustrates Jefferson’s wisdom quite vividly.
The A.M.A.’s foolishness demonstrates the destructive combination of being high trained in one’s profession, yet not comprehending the most basic facets of government, economics, and public policy.
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.
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