By Bruce Japsen for Forbes
Some physicians from within the American Medical Association want the national doctors group to consider dropping its opposition to a single payer version of “Medicare for All.”
The AMA’s stance on “Medicare for All” and other proposals to expand insurance coverage will be debated next month at the doctor group’s annual policy-making House of Delegates meeting. The AMA this week released a 17-page report on the costs and impact of “Medicare for All” to doctors, their patients and taxpayers as well as a look at other health reform proposals.
The report came about when some doctors last year wanted the AMA to “remove references in AMA policy to opposing single-payer health care.” The new report is largely in response to the request and will be debated among more than 600 voting delegates in the AMA House that represent all 50 state medical societies and national medical specialty organizations.
Though it’s unlikely the AMA will endorse a single-payer version of Medicare for All that uproots the private insurance system as proposed by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and some other Democrats running for President, what the national doctor group comes up with could be important to the 2020 campaign.
Depending on what AMA delegates do next month, any policy could become a part of the group’s lobbying and political agenda in Washington and be used by one candidate or another in a campaign. The AMA is currently allied with other industry groups in the fight against Medicare for All as a part of a group called “Partnership for America’s Health Care Future,” which is spending millions of dollars and is backed by the American Hospital Association, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans, which includes Cigna, Anthem, Centene and other health insurance giants.
The AMA, which has more than 200,000 physician members and is the nation’s largest doctor group, has fought vigorously and successfully against the Donald Trump administration and Republican Congressional efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which has increased coverage to more than 20 million Americans and included new patient protections, particular for those with pre-existing medical conditions. “Expanding health insurance coverage and choice have been long-standing goals of the AMA,” the report of the AMA’s Council on Medical Services says.
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As a supporter of the ACA signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010, the AMA favors fixes to the law as well as approaches to expand coverage.
“The AMA has long supported health system reform alternatives that are consistent with AMA policies concerning pluralism, freedom of choice, freedom of practice, and universal access for patients,” the AMA Council on Medical Service said. “To expand coverage to all Americans, the AMA has advocated for the promotion of individually selected and owned health insurance; the maintenance of the safety net that Medicaid and CHIP provide; and the preservation of employer-sponsored coverage to the extent the market demands it. On the whole, the AMA proposal for reform recognizes that many individuals are generally satisfied with their coverage, but provides affordable coverage options to those who are uninsured or are having difficulties affording coverage options, including employer-sponsored, for which they are eligible.”
The AMA’s Council on Medical Service recommends doctors support several measures, including those that would strengthen the AMA. These include:
* increasing the generosity of premium tax credits
* expanding eligibility for cost-sharing reductions
* increasing the size of cost-sharing reductions
While the AMA council on medical service doesn’t recommend supporting single payer, it says the national doctor group should lobby and support additional rules and regulations that expand insurance coverage to more Americans.
“The Council underscores that the AMA will continue to thoughtfully engage in discussions of health reform proposals, which will vary greatly in their structure and scope,” the AMA Council on Medical Service says. “Opposing single-payer proposals does not preclude that engagement, nor mean that the AMA will not evaluate health reform proposals that are introduced.”
The AMA will decide its future health care reform agenda along with dozens of other policy positions June 8-12 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.