AMA to Lobby Against Public Plan– Again
The New York Times reports that the AMA has announced that it will lobby against the inclusion of a Public Plan in health care reform legislation. Merril Goozner over at GoozNews has posted an interesting Real Politik analysis worth a view, and at least one physician, Dr. Chris McCoy, Policy Chair for the National Physicians Alliance, has publicly quit the AMA in response. In his post over at the Huffington Post, “Dear AMA: I Quit!,” Dr. McCoy points out the inconsistencies in the AMA’s position in regard to its own research, and the group’s less than progressive history when it comes to health reform. The piece is well worth quoting at length:
But this should not have surprised me: when health care reform has been necessary, the AMA has always stood on the wrong side of history. The AMA opposed the creation of Medicare in the 1930s, when it was first proposed as part of Social Security. The AMA opposed Medicare again in the 1960s, going as far as to hire an actor named Ronald Reagan to read a script to the AMA Auxiliary declaring Medicare as the first step toward socialism, and concluding with the statement that if Medicare were to become law, “One day, we will awake to find that we have socialism…. One of these days, you and I will to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it was once like in America when men were free.”
That was 50 years ago … and none of that has come to pass. And yet this year, the AMA argues that a public health insurance plan will destroy the private insurance market. I challenge the AMA leadership to cite a single example of an industry where involvement by the government has lead to the elimination of private enterprise. This has not been the case with the creation of public police forces in the second half of the 1800’s (private security companies still exist), we have a robust system of public and private colleges existing the same market, and bookstores still sell books despite the presence of public libraries. A mix of public and private enterprises in the market is a truly American solution to ensuring equal access, as well as competition to drive quality improvement. In fact, the creation of the public health insurance option will *increase* competition, as demonstrated by the AMA’s own studies showing that 94% of health insurance markets only have 1 or 2 providers in the market.
It would appear that the AMA’s position against the public health insurance market is driven by out-dated political ideology that blindly supports private industry rather than a careful examination of the facts of the current situation.