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Iglehart and Thompson: Does the AMA Need “A Different Model of Advocacy”?

Posted on | May 3, 2016 | No Comments

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.11.49 AMJohn Iglehart and Jeff Thompson MD

The AMA’s vigorous opposition this week to the FDA’s consideration of mandating training for opioid prescribers to curb the current opioid epidemic (which the AMA’s liberal policies toward specialty designation and pharmaceutical underwriting helped create), called to mind the words in 2009 of Gundersen-Lutheran neonatologist and CEO, Jeff Thompson in an interview with John Iglehart.  They said:

IGLEHART:  “One thing that has always struck me about physicians, and I suppose I’m particularly sensitive to it having written for a medical journal, the New England Journal of Medicine, for many years, is that physicians are generally leading citizens in the communities where they practice.  They are respected, they bring authority and credibility to their tasks as doctors. Yet when physicians have gathered in various collections, whether it’s the American Medical Association or countless other medical organizations, when they gather in Washington and try to harness their authority and respect, it just breaks down, and it mostly breaks down because the issues that they bring to Washington are largely economic and pertain to their incomes.  This has always struck me as odd and perhaps presents a challenge for organized medicine to figure out a different model of advocacy that would not only serve their own interests but those of the larger community and society. Do you also see a disconnect here?”

THOMPSON: “That’s a great observation, John. Here’s my answer back to you in a question. Why is it that 85 or 90 percent of pediatricians belong to the American Academy of Pediatrics, but probably less than 15 percent of practicing physicians belong to the American Medical Association?… I have always been a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics for the very reason that you state, because I knew where their priorities were. The AMA by contrast has been so embarrassing at so many times, it’s why at my age and behind me, the percentage of people that have engaged and paid dues has been tiny.  Time after time the AMA has screamed about their finances and so they have lost their credibility in Washington and with the public.”

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