Docs, AMA divided over Tom Price appointment

Tom Price speaking
Nearly 450 doctors who are members of American Medical Association have signed an open letter criticizing the group for its endorsement of Georgia Republican Congressman Tom Price as HHS secretary. But the AMA is holding its ground. Image: House Republicans

The back and forth continues between doctors and the American Medical Association over the national organization’s quick endorsement last week of President-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., as secretary of Health and Human Services.

There’s been more protest over the AMA’s action, as almost 450 doctors who are members of the country’s largest physician group have signed an open letter criticizing its endorsement of the Georgia congressman. The nomination of Price, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon for almost 20 years, who has been a member of the AMA House of Delegates, must be confirmed by Congress.

The AMA came under fire last week for endorsing Trump’s choice of the doctor-turned-congressman from Georgia to head HHS. The organization clarified its position in an article on AMA Wire by board chair Patrice A. Harris, M.D., titled “Why we support Dr. Price to lead HHS.”

Harris wrote that the AMA has agreed and disagreed with Price on issues over the years, but hope his background will bring a physician’s perspective into Trump’s cabinet.

RELATED: Trump's healthcare 'dream team': Rep. Tom Price to head HHS, Seema Verma to lead CMS

A major criticism from liberal doctors, however, is Price’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Harris said the AMA’s core principle is that any healthcare reform should not cause any person to lose health insurance coverage.

That didn’t satisfy the hundreds of physicians who wrote back to Harris and the AMA saying many of Price’s positions are inconsistent with longstanding AMA policies. The doctors said the AMA must stand up for key health policies such as ensuring healthcare access for all Americans, ensuring access to reproductive healthcare to all women, providing protections for the LGBTQ community and maintaining coverage for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

Last week, thousands of doctors signed a letter to the AMA titled “The AMA Does Not Speak for Us,” which was posted by the advocacy group Clinician Action Network. Meanwhile, MedPageToday has posted a poll asking readers “Is Price right for HHS?” As of this morning, 63% of 275 respondents said ‘no’ and 37% said ‘yes.’