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Tilting at Windmills

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October 5, 2009

RNC TURNS AGAINST AMA.... Eric Zimmermann reports that the Republican National Committee has decided it no longer likes the American Medical Association.

Michael Steele took a shot at the American Medical Association (AMA) today, saying the organization doesn't have "credibility" on healthcare reform.

"The AMA is -- does not have the credibility on this health care issue, as they would like to project," Steele said on Fox and Friends this morning.

The relative strength and/or influence of the AMA is certainly subject to debate. For that matter, it's understandable that the RNC chairman would try to undermine the credibility of the physicians' group the same day 150 medical doctors applaud health care reform in the Rose Garden.

That said, Steele's criticism seemed a little odd. For one thing, it occurred the same morning the Republican National Committee hosted a conference call to boast about support from former AMA President Donald Palmisano. Steele was stepping on his own message -- if the AMA doesn't have credibility, why should anyone be impressed with the RNC's call with Palmisano?

For that matter, Steele may not realize this, but the American Medical Association has historically been a close Republican Party ally on health care reform. It has a lengthy record of trashing Democratic reform proposals -- in 1945, the AMA helped portray Truman's proposal for national health insurance as a creep toward communism -- and Sam Stein recently noted, "The group's reputation on this matter is so notorious that historians pinpoint it with creating the ominous sounding phrase 'socialized medicine' in the early decades of the 1900s."

The Republican National Committee just loved the AMA -- right up until the group decided the Democratic reform proposals were a good deal.

Steele isn't the only one struggling with this. Fox News' Megyn Kelly, when she thought the AMA was opposed to reform efforts, characterized the AMA as "very influential," and claimed that it "represents most of the doctors in this country." After the AMA endorsed reform, Kelly decided she wasn't all that impressed with the physicians' group after all.

Steve Benen 4:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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"First you say you do,
and then you don't;
Then you say you will
And then you won't.
You're undecided now,
So what're ya gonna do?"

Posted by: st john on October 5, 2009 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

the only credible explanation for michael steele is that he is a paid democratic plant. He has done more, and is doing more for democrats than today's crop of vichy dems have ever done.

Posted by: zoot on October 5, 2009 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

The public option will mean more competition in the marketplace period! Even the doctors know a public option will force insurance companies to be more accountable to market forces.

Mr. Steele needs to know it is Republicans who have no cred when they scuttle their own professed conservative tenets and want to continue big government (read socialism) funding transfers to the insurance industry for low-income Americans, instead of offering reform that would help the market work more efficiently while extending more health care to the uninsurec! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on October 5, 2009 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, the fact that the AMA likes health care reform now may be another indication that the Democrats have given away too much (particularly in the area of cost controls, which could affect doctors' incomes).

Posted by: Joe Buck on October 5, 2009 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

What do you think happens when a doctor is trying to cure a patient's illness and recommend staying in the hospital a few more days, but the insurance companies say no? The patient who is in the hospital may not have an idea of the battle being fought until after he returns home and reads his mail for the first time.

Posted by: Ray Waldren on October 5, 2009 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

"yeah, what the hell do doctors know about health care?

Posted by: hells littlest angel on October 5, 2009 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, truthiness. Fox news viewers won't be confused by these contradictions -- I doubt their memories are cluttered with more than a few Faux comments over the last few days. Or maybe it is simply a "Reagan Truth" -- if it isn't true, well, it ought to be!

Posted by: Michael Carpet on October 5, 2009 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

When Megyn Kelly talks, fingernails on blackboards cover their ears.

Posted by: shortstop on October 5, 2009 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

now are the 150 kissy kissy white house docs representing ama -- i didnt assume so or read it.

the ama is with the ins corps the last i heard... the ama being a lobby for all medical corps, really, since docs have been incorporatin' to make millions for some time now.

i am puzzled by the stoopid of the chaos about the ama, not the chaos itself. neither steele nor fox news twerps need to know anything to sew the chaos for their bosses...

... still, i wonder wassup with the ama?

Posted by: neill on October 5, 2009 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

I think what we're seeing with the AMA and the GOP is that doctors are no longer the monolithic "industry" force that they once were. Forty years ago your typical doctor was likely involved in a quite lucrative private or small group practice. These guys were private businessmen in a field with extremely high barriers to competition. They ran the show. No longer. The economics of health care have changed drastically to the point where private practices are becoming a relic of the past, or at least a lot less common than decades ago. Doctors are now more likely to be working for a big HMO (Kaiser) or a big group practice (Brown & Toland) with a LOT less say over their day to day work, and a lot more stress on seeing X number of patients per day. Worse, the remaining independents have their revenue streams controlled almost completely by antagonistic/indiffferent insurance companies. I think it's just dawned on the AMA and the GOP that doctors are now "labor" or at the very least they are no longer "management." Ergo, doctors have ceased to be a GOP constituency.

Posted by: pinson on October 5, 2009 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

I just sent Micheal Steele a dozen roses.

Posted by: Disputo on October 5, 2009 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK


What a shocker.

Next Steele and the RNC will have to turn against the College of Surgeons, Doctors For America, the majority of the cardiologists, the majority of the pediatricians, as well as a majority of the nurses.

Steele will be like Custer at Little Bighorn.

Posted by: Joe Friday on October 5, 2009 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

To be fair... We (on the left) had been against AMA for a long time and have suddenly done a "volte face" too. Only those without a similar sin get to cast the stone :)

And as for AMA doing its own "volte face"... It might have been sped up by the slew of individual doctors cancelling their membership over the public option. Reading the outraged (AMA no longer speaks for me! It's never represented more than a quarter of us, anyway) letters in the NYT a couple of months ago was a real treat.

Posted by: exlibra on October 5, 2009 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Next Steele and the RNC will have to turn against the College of Surgeons, Doctors For America, the majority of the cardiologists, the majority of the pediatricians, as well as a majority of the nurses.

Think bigger. In the next few weeks I'm anticipating seeing Steele turn against NASCAR, the County Music Industry, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and Jesus.

Posted by: Disputo on October 5, 2009 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

The reason the AMA is changing its tune is that it is now vastly weaker than the insurance industry. They now realize that in issues like Tort reform the insurance screwed them royally, and they don't have the big bucks to protect themselves.
In states where Tort Reform passed, malpractice rates continue to go up and the insurance companies get to keep the higher rates and payout less for settlements.

Posted by: Marnie on October 5, 2009 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

The Rethugs are axe-murdering loons, thrashing out violently against anyone who opposes them, however "respectable" - but to their thuggish rabble "respectability" is all relative to being liked by Rush anyway.

Posted by: N e i l B on October 5, 2009 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Steele's absolutely right: what do doctors know about health care, anyhow. Now, faith healers, on the other hand...


Posted by: Zorro on October 5, 2009 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Can someone tell me what percentage of practicing doctors in the USA the AMA represents??? I heard it was only 20% Is that true??? Has anyone had a talk with their doctor to know what the opinion is of their own doctor regarding health care reform??? Just like to know.....

Posted by: Laurel on October 6, 2009 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK



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