AMA's support for health reform may be in doubt

All along, the AMA's support for health reform has been a bit of a touch-and-go thing, with leaders hoping to work out some sort of compromise between the different factions within its 250,000 member physicians. 

Of late, the group seemed to have reached some sort of consensus which put it squarely behind reform efforts. Now, however, that fragile coalition seems to be in doubt with the approval of a plan by the Senate Finance Committee.

AMA watchers say that while the association has a range of public policy goals here, its main goal is convincing Congress to halt cuts in Medicare that have been pending for a dozen years. With Medicare making up nearly one-third of physicians' income, on average, this is a very big issue.

The Senate Finance Committee version of the bill, however, holds off Medicare cuts for just one year, at a cost of about $10 billion, a striking contrast to House bills devoting $228 billion to keeping Medicare cuts from happening for at least a decade. To keep the AMA's support, it seems likely that the Senate's version of the bill just won't cut it.

Now, the question is whether reform can pass at all if the AMA backs off from its support. This could be down to the wire, folks.

To learn more about this debate:
- read this Washington Post piece

Related Articles:
AMA opposes government-backed healthcare
The discussion continues: Are physician salaries key to health reform?
Obama administration points to Cleveland Clinic as reform model