American Medical Association Struggles To Find Role In Health Reform

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Associated Press reports that the esteemed American Medical Association's political clout may be waning.

The group is struggling to have its voice heard in the effort to reform health care. After the Senate stymied the AMA's bid for a $247 billion, 10-year reprieve from scheduled reimbursement cuts for physicians, it's facing a backlash amongst its own membership.

"I can't think of a more ineffective organization when it comes to dealing with Congress," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

While lawmakers aren't impressed by the AMA's lobbying efforts, some of the group's physician members feel disillusioned by what they feel is a lack of priorities.

Members were upset that the AMA endorsed a $1 trillion-plus plan by House Democrats that contained a pay raise but no malpractice limits and included a public option for government-run insurance.

"The AMA is not as strong as they think they are -- that's the bottom line," said Bob Feldtman, a cardiovascular surgeon in Dallas.

The recent policy disappointments come amid the AMA's new-found allegiance to the Democratic Party. Traditionally, the group aligned itself with the GOP, but has donated more than half of it's $3.3 million political action committee contributions to Democrats this year, according to the AP.

Three former presidents of the AMA spoke out against a government-run health optionearlier this month in a op-ed column for the Wall Street Journal, saying that the president "missed an opportunity to learn more about the real issues facing patients and doctors."

The United States has the best health care in the world today, and thanks to the ever-expanding frontiers of science and medical innovation the brightest days are ahead. It is true that there are Americans who fall through the cracks of our medical system every day--and as a caring nation, we must do what we can to expand access to medical care to those who need it. But this can be accomplished without a costly and inefficient government overhaul of the entire system.

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