Saturday, February 13, 2010

AMA Discredited

The President of the AMA, J. James Rohack has another piece posted up on the increasingly disconnected and corporatized Kevin MD. In this piece, the eminent Dr. Rohack basically pleads for average Americans to call their senators and congressmen about the need to enact permananet repeal of the anticipated 21% Medicare reimbursement slash this year. It's truly an embarassing piece; a faintly concealed public admission of his own organization's failure to adequately represent and advocate for the needs and desires of physicians in the health care reform dialogue.

Let's take a minute to browse through his various posting on KevinMD over the past year shall we?

July 16th, 2008 (Shortly after the AMA officially endorsed HR 3200:
Permanent Medicare physician payment reform must be part of comprehensive health reform this year. Medicare payments should cover the increasing cost of providing care so that seniors can be assured of continued access to physician care.

August 13th, 2008:
The AMA is committed to keeping medical decisions in the hands of patients and their physicians and preserving that sacred relationship. Insurance needs to be affordable and available to all patients though a choice of plans regardless of job or health status. The flawed Medicare payment formula must be fixed. Medical liability reforms must be adopted. We need a system that promotes quality, incentivizes care coordination and emphasizes prevention and wellness initiatives.

Reform of the broken Medicare physician payment formula is necessary to assure access to care for seniors. Without congressional action, Medicare cuts will total about 40 percent over the next five years. The gap between payments and costs will make it very difficult for physicians to keep their doors open to all Medicare patients and make quality improvement to their practices that benefit all patients

October 8th, 2008:
All eyes are on the Senate Finance Committee this week as they prepare to vote to move health reform legislation forward. The AMA is committed to health reform, and as the process moves to the Senate floor, it’s crucial that the Senate include permanent repeal of the current Medicare physician payment formula in its health reform legislation.

Democrats and Republicans have publicly stated that the flawed formula should be scrapped. Chairman Baucus and others have expressed support for a long-term solution. It’s clear to physicians and patients that the time for band-aid fixes is over. Short-term fixes have temporarily averted an access crisis, but it has also led to next year’s projection of a 21 percent cut, with more in years to come.

November 13th, 2008:
This week, our attention turns to passage of H.R. 3961, which repeals the broken Medicare physician payment formula and provides payments to better reflect the cost of providing medical care. The time for band-aid fixes to a long-term problem is over. Congress created the “sustainable growth rate” (SGR) formula that sets Medicare payment rates, and it’s up to them to do-away with the formula that projects a 21 percent payment cut next year and more in years to come. At stake is physicians’ ability to continue to provide high-quality care to seniors, the disabled, military families and the baby boomers who reach age 65 in two years.

These cuts are across the board to all physicians caring for Medicare and TRICARE patients. Active engagement is crucial at this time, and physicians need to call their members of Congress and let them know that Medicare’s physician foundation must be secure and stable for comprehensive health reform to succeed.

Notice how in early 2008, Rohack assured everyone that the AMA would not back down from demands to abolish the Medicare cuts. In November, physicians were encouraged to make phone calls to Capitol Hill. Now, the responsibility has been kicked further downhill to American citizens in general. Just laughable.

From the very beginning, the AMA has proclaimed its dedication to addressing the SRG payment slashes and tort reform. Exploiting the high page view lectern of Kevin MD, Dr Rohack has continuously banged his little drum about how hard he's working and the "victories" the AMA has achieved for physicians. But such self-congratulatory rhetoric is completely disconnected from the reality of actual events. There are no victories. He hasn't achieved any of his objectives. The AMA has failed miserably on all counts. It has turned itself into a pathetic, insular, completely impotent organization that, given its historical legacy and universal "name recognition", functions as a mere prop for for any reform bill that does come out of Congress (i.e. Endorsed by the AMA!!!).

Clarification: The above picture is of the vile, hateful JJ Reddick, not JJ Rohack. ;)


Vijay said...

If it's any consolation, the IMA in India is as bad as the AMA when it comes to standing up for the welfare of members.

tom said...

Here's a thought,Do not depend on organized medicine to advocate for you-the data suggets that is too late for that.

Physicians write a letter to their Congressional Representative indicating that if the cuts become a reality,"I will no longer treat Medi-Care patients".

Prepare/distribute/discuss a seperate letter for your patients indicating the fiscal reality of a 21% cut in your fees and asking the patient to write a letter to their Congressional Rep (creep?)
Prepare your patients for their being responsible to you for your fee

The time is long past for healthcare to be the only service that patients receive without having any skin in the game. If I ever hear again 'I don't care what it costs, I have insurance" I will realize the end is HERE for me

American Medical Association said...

The legislative road to repealing the flawed Medicare physician payment formula is long - and AMA has been on it every step of the way, achieving results for physicians so they can continue to provide high-quality patient care. There is bipartisan agreement in Congress that the payment formula is broken, and with strong outreach from the AMA, the U.S. House passed legislation to repeal the formula in November. Both the House and Senate passed legislation earlier this month that partially exempts Medicare physician payment reform from "pay as you go" rules, and the Obama Administration took long-overdue steps to revise the calculations in the formula. Now we’re working to get Congress to take the final steps.

Along with our partners in the state and medical specialty societies, we’ve reached out to physicians and encouraged them to let their members of Congress know it’s high time that they act to repeal the broken payment formula. It will take more than the voices of physicians to get Congress to act, and we're proud to pair with AARP and the Military Officers Association of America to educate seniors, baby boomers and military families about the cut's impact on their choice of physician so that they too can get involved. After all, it is our patients who will pay the greatest price if Congress fails to replace the payment formula once and for all.

Anonymous said...

@Tom - If my physician asked me to lobby Congress on his or her behalf, I would consider that to be extremely unprofessional. The physician's duty is to the patient. When you start asking patients for favors, you cross the boundary between professional and unprofessional. And to those who say that "patients will suffer most..." Really? Patients? If that were the case, the AMA and physicians wouldn't complain so vociferously. Let's be honest with each other here. Your pocketbooks are what you are worried about. To say you are worried about access is disingenuous, at best. And the AMA has been impotent for years. That is not news.

tom said...

Insulating patients from the reality that physicians are facing-specifically, increasing cost to operate a private practice in the face of decreasing revenues, is a disservice to patients.

If every patients insurance is so "good" why do 70% of Calfornia doctors refuse to treat Medi-cal patients?