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Monday, September 18th 2006

Takes A Dump On The Web, Calls It Op-Ed

An article at Spot On by Holt rips the AMA.

the AMA is the group most responsible of any for ensuring that America does not have universal health insurance for every citizen

He decides to play a little fantasy game,

After the pollsters told them that Medicare fees would be cut, the next question was obvious. It was something like “Doctors say that if you pay them less they won’t take Medicare patients, who will be left on the street to die. Then their bodies will be eaten by wolves. Are you worried that this will impact access for grandma to her doctor?” And you can guess what the answer will be.

He uses data the AMA freely releases, and presents it as something he’s informing you of and as evidence against the AMA’s findings on Medicare cuts,

Well actually most Americans had never heard of the cuts,

Look at that word choice, “Well actually,” as if he didn’t pull that data DIRECTLY from the AMA Medicare reimbursement cut survey, which he’s in the process of trashing! Good catch Matt…way to inform us.

This is the typical semi-fraudulent poll you’d expect from a self-interested lobbying group.

I’m sorry, did Holt see the polling question? Did he see the raw data? No, of course not. That would allow him to supply too informed an opinion. Better just to skim a press release and draw conclusions from that.

Oh look, the actual question, from the AMA Medicare poll!

How concerned are you that access to health care for Medicare patients will be hurt because government payments to physicians will fall far below the increased cost of caring for seniors?

Not the most unbiased of polling but this isn’t a policy group its an interest group. It certainly doesn’t read as Holt imagined it above however.

I’ll agree with Holt that claims that physicians will leave Medicare en masse are impossible for the size of that healthcare consumer population. But he shouldn’t pretend that just because we haven’t seen a decrease in access for Medicare patients yet, that we won’t in the future. Especially amongst specialists.

Holt goes on a binge about how the AMA is the devil. Hey the AMA is a trade group! The secretary did his job for the dumbed down media – stick to your points and repeat them over and over! This isn’t a discussion, no matter how badly that upsets Matt.

Holt does get some things right discussing the difference in reimbursement between PCPs and specialists. Well, from my point of view at least. I’m a big advocate of streamlining

However, Holt shows he’s completely out of the loop trusting AMA membership figures, and journals I guess, rather than the real work of the organization, when he comes to this final though,

The good news is that as more and more doctors are not in the solo-practice fee-for-service model that the AMA has historically represented. So there is some hope that the association will fade in relevance, reform itself, or be replaced by a new physician organization which takes a reasonable approach to reforming the health care system.

Good luck, the AMA has its hand in everything. It has and continues to be part of incredibly important reforms throughout the industry, I guess Holt would argue those don’t particularly matter when 46 million have such inadequate access to healthcar (fair enough). But they’re also the most vocal voice in the entire regulation of the healthcare industry. Hospital accredidation through the JCAHO, you better believe the AMA is the most powerful sponsor. Medical education through LCME and ACGME sponsorship. It sets the standards of ethics for physicians, not a small thing, which hey, despite complaints against its opposition to a virtual single payer system (a shocker there), have actually done a helluva a lotta good over the history of the AMA.

Holt should also not pretend that the AMA hasn’t done more for patient health than any other interest group. He might find the effort so far inadequate and some of AMA’s efforts contradictory to that goal, but despite that no one else has achieved more for it. I guess that can be ignored in a “what can you do for me now” enviornment.

Despite slopping numbers the AMA’s influence on capitol hill is impressive. No physician group could hope to rise and fill its shoes.