Monday, June 27, 2011

Is the AMA Still Relevant?

It's been a week since the AMA-MSS Annual Meeting ended, and we're finally bringing you an update. The big big big news is that the MSS and the HOD proper (the physicians' voting body) reaffirmed policy to support an individual mandate in regard to health care (read more here). This is a major step forward for the historically conservative organization, and many have been blaming the AMA's stance on the individual mandate for the membership decline this past year. Others cite the platform as a reason for new members to have joined. But the AMA does only represent 20-30% of US doctors, which has brought up the question: Is the AMA still relevant?

We think so. Despite its poor-looking numbers, the AMA is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington. It is the most powerful health care lobby. It advocates hard for physicians, and its support for universal (ish) health care does show that the group adheres to its motto, "Helping doctors help patients." A recent article at said it best: "The AMA may not be every doctor’s cup of tea, but it’s the best voice we have. And that is better than no voice at all."

Whether or not you like the politics of medicine, it will affect you. Get involved. As students, we have more influence than one might think. Did you know that smoking bans on airplanes started at the AMA-MSS and moved its way through the HOD and onto federal legislation? If you think our AMA is not moving in the right direction, fix it. E-mail VP of Legislation Lauren Gluck at to get more involved with policy and advocacy here at UB. We owe it to ourselves, our profession, and our patients to make health care better.

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