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AMA bails out of partnership opposed to Medicare for All

August 16, 2019

Topics: Quote of the Day

By Dan Diamond and Adam Cancryn
POLITICO, August 15, 2019

The American Medical Association has quit a coalition that’s led the health industry’s fight against Medicare expansion, the first crack in its opposition to Democratic candidates’ proposals.

The AMA’s logo is no longer visible on the website of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, and multiple individuals with knowledge of the decision told POLITICO that the physicians’ organization decided to drop out after the coalition broadened its opposition last month from “Medicare for All” to more incremental proposals like former Vice President Joe Biden’s plan for a government-run public option. The AMA in June agreed at an annual meeting to study the feasibility of a public option after years of opposition to single-payer health care.

The AMA confirmed its departure. “Missing in the recent debate is an ongoing discussion of practical solutions that will result in more affordable insurance options,” CEO James Madara said in a statement to POLITICO, adding that the association recently laid out proposals to help achieve universal coverage. “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 health care system.”

The partnership — comprised of nearly 60 groups, including the American Hospital Association and AHIP — has spent millions of dollars advertising against Democrats’ Medicare expansion ideas and is currently running a messaging campaign against Biden’s public option proposal.

The AMA was among the partnership’s founding members in spring 2018. Several other member organizations affirmed that they will remain part of the industry coalition, blaming the AMA’s departure on internal dissension between younger doctors who support Democrats’ proposals and older physicians who remain wary of expanding government-run coverage.



By PNHP President Adam Gaffney, M.D., M.P.H.

Yesterday, the American Medical Association announced that it is leaving the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a coalition of private insurance, pharmaceutical, and for-profit hospital companies whose sole purpose is to fight single-payer Medicare for All.

This is a big victory for single-payer supporters. In June, a coalition of doctors, nurses, students, seniors, and disability rights advocates descended on the AMA annual meeting in Chicago. We held a lively march and rally in the streets outside the meeting, while a group of activists launched a surprise “die-in” in the middle of the conference proceedings. Our demands to the AMA were clear: Leave the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future and drop your opposition to single payer.

While the AMA voted to maintain its anti-single payer policy, the razor-thin margin — 53% to 47% — stunned observers. And today we celebrate our second victory: The AMA’s resignation from this shameful campaign against health care justice.

I’m grateful to everyone who participated in this campaign, especially the SNaHP students (Students for a National Health Program) who originally conceived of the action. It was truly a team effort, from those of you who marched with me in Chicago, organized your fellow activists to attend, wrote letters and op-eds, talked to news reporters, and shared the #AMAGetOutTheWay campaign on social media.

As our movement grows, the industry is going to fight even harder against improved Medicare for All. We must be prepared, and we must continue to push the AMA to build on this first step by not only dropping its opposition to single payer, but by fully supporting improved Medicare for All.

Stay informed! Visit www.pnhp.org/qotd to sign up for daily email updates.

About the Commentator, Don McCanne

Don McCanne is a retired family practitioner who dedicated the 2nd phase of his career to speaking and writing extensively on single payer and related issues. He served as Physicians for a National Health Program president in 2002 and 2003, then as Senior Health Policy Fellow. For two decades, Don wrote "Quote of the Day", a daily health policy update which inspired HJM.

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