Opposition to 'Medicare for All' remains, but the AMA drops out of coalition fighting single-payer system

While it continues to oppose “Medicare for All,” the American Medical Association (AMA) has dropped out of a coalition organized to fight the healthcare proposal.

The AMA, the country’s largest physician organization, confirmed Thursday that it is leaving the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, an industry group that opposes Medicare for All.

The decision does not signal a policy change on the part of the AMA, which will continue to oppose a single-payer system.

“The American Medical Association firmly believes that the best pathway to expand affordable, high-quality health insurance coverage to all Americans is through a mix of private and public health insurance options. We remain opposed to Medicare for All, and policies that reduce patient choice and competition, and are built on flawed financing policies,” said James L. Madara, AMA CEO and executive vice president, in an emailed statement.

At its annual meeting in June, the AMA’s House of Delegates voted to adopt a new policy that boosts its push for universal coverage by improving the Affordable Care Act. The delegates also defeated a motion to remove the AMA’s opposition to a single-payer approach to health system reform, which is currently being debated in Congress and is supported by some Democratic candidates for president. However, that vote was reportedly a close one that divided the membership, with 53% voting to maintain opposition.

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The physician organization maintained its opposition to Medicare for All despite a demonstration by doctors, nurses, medical students and community activists staged at the opening of the annual meeting criticizing the association’s position and urging them to support expanding Medicare to cover all Americans.

The Partnership coalition has been running ads against Medicare for All and public option proposals from the Democratic candidates. 

While the Partnership over the past 16 months has highlighted the problems with Medicare for All and other proposals, Madara said the AMA has decided to move on. “Missing in the recent debate is an ongoing discussion of practical solutions that will result in more affordable insurance options,” Madara said.

RELATED: Poll finds 49% of doctors support ‘Medicare for All’

“The AMA decided to leave the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future so that we can devote more time to advocating for these policies that will address current coverage gaps and dysfunction in our healthcare system,” he said.

“Today, too many individuals and families who do not have employer-sponsored insurance and are ineligible for government subsidies face costly premiums and high deductibles that restrict their access to care. Action is needed now to assist this population without disrupting coverage that works for most Americans. Additional policy improvements will further the goal of expanding coverage and offering more affordable options for the uninsured and those struggling to secure meaningful health insurance coverage,” he said.

The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future still has major industry groups that are members of the coalition, including the American Hospital Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans.

“Our diverse and fast-growing coalition strongly agrees with the American Medical Association that Medicare for all is the wrong approach for America’s healthcare and we have appreciated the opportunity to work with them throughout the past year," the Partnership said in an emailed statement.

“The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future continues to represent clinicians, patient groups, community hospitals, health insurance providers, biopharmaceutical companies, employers and business organizations committed to working together on real solutions that work for every American,” the group said.

“We support building on the strength of employer-provided health coverage and preserving Medicare, Medicaid, and the proven solutions that hundreds of millions of Americans depend on. Government-run systems such as Medicare for all, Medicare buy-in or the public option would be one-size-fits-all systems for every American—young or old, sick or healthy—that lead to increased costs, longer wait times and a lower quality of care for everyone, while healthcare decisions are shifted away from doctors and patients to politicians and bureaucrats in Washington,” the group said.