Doctoring Health Care Reform

Is the AMA on the right track?

Doctors are suffocating under a fume of regulation.

Our relationships with patients poked at incessantly.

Our autonomy, and ability to use nuance hang by a thread.

Our patients consume more care, but get sicker still. The health of the citizenry grows so woeful that it endangers our economy, and even our Armed Forces.

But there is hope.

Physicians have a voice. We are smart people—or at least we got good grades in school. Most of us work on the front lines of where patients meet healthcare. We know the real story.

We should speak up; it’s in the national interest.

An organization that represents doctors is called the American Medical Association (AMA). They are getting together in Chicago this week for work on “policy-making.”

You might think they are working on big topics. In public health, for instance, the AMA might be looking into our rising epidemic of sedantary-ism, and how not moving, eating too much and taking no personal responsibility in one’s health undermines the value of fancy new drugs, stents, and robotic surgery.

In healthcare policy, you might guess they are looking into ways to inject some common sense into the debate in Washington. Are they emphasizing real-world notions like how it is impossible to provide more health care, to more people, at less cost? Or, that it’s okay to mention the words, “you get what you pay for,” when speaking of free medical care.  Or this one: in the end, won’t the common denominator of what our nation accepts for care depend on how much people are willing to set aside each month for their health care costs?


AMA press release

Yesterday, AMA delegates released statements on airport scanners, cement kilns, bisphenol A in plastic bottles, and bath salts. No, there was nothing about chocolate milk in schools.

The AMA lost 12,000 paying members last year.

A very wise lawyer friend of mine often reminds me that most doctors aren’t much good at anything other than doctoring.

I hope he is wrong, because we could really use a few well-spoken, cool-headed, masters of the obvious to talk with our lawmakers about something more pressing than airport scanners.

Real-world doctors might be able to help.


2 replies on “Is the AMA on the right track?”

Yes doctors are generally smart and hard working but often not very scientific and just as subject to cognitive disonance and the desire for financial gain as the rest of us. Case in point despite the evidence that knee scopes are of limited value in my situation, my desire to get my 60 year old knee back and charitably the Orthopedist’s wishful thinking conspired to overcome my personal physician’s skepticism. Result, probably a waste of my money and the premiums paid by my retiree health insurance. Better the resources go to the underpaid health provider who will see a Medicaid patient. Some of us in the elder community would better off with fewer procedures, sometimes fewer meds, and less wishful thinking. Doctors do have something to add but so do economists who see a lot of inefficiency in the fee for service model.

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