The American Medical Association (AMA) gathered in Chicago earlier this month for its annual meeting. The group, composed of over 200,000 doctors, voted to maintain its opposition of Medicare for All despite protesters gathered on the street outside.
The AMA and Medicare for All
The healthcare lobby group invited Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to speak. In her speech, she argued that Medicare for All would lead to decreased payments to doctors, increased taxes, and rationed healthcare.
“We are deeply committed to helping those who need it,” she said, “but while doing that, we must put the patients and their doctors in the driver’s seat to make decisions about their care, not the government.”
AMA president, Dr. Barbara McAneny, said in an interview, “The AMA is absolutely in favor of having every American have health care that needs to be of good quality and affordable. We just aren’t certain that Medicare for All is the right vehicle.”
The Medicare for All vote
Although the AMA doesn’t officially endorse Medicare for All, the margin between supporters and dissenters is narrowing as the group’s diversity grows.
During the meeting, the group’s House of Delegates voted to decide if the group would reverse its position of opposing Medicare for All. While 53 percent voted to maintain the group’s opposition, 47 percent voted in favor of supporting the single-payer system.
Protesters outside AMA meeting
As the group was voting, protesters were outside changing, “AMA, get out of the way!”
Some of these protesters were fellow healthcare workers like doctors, nurses, medical students, and other healthcare professionals, many of whom belong to the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP).
Unlike the AMA, the PNHP supports Medicare for All. The group claims it’s in the majority, citing a 2017 survey from Merritt Hawkins, a physician search firm, which found 56 percent of doctors to be in favor of a single-payer system.
Other groups represented included National Nurses United (NNU), of which Martese Chism is a member. In a statement to the press, Chism said, “This weekend nurses marched with a progressive coalition of grassroots activists and member of the medical community demanding that the American Medical Association endorse Medicare for All. The AMA has a long history of siding with the insurance industry and putting corporate profit above patient’s health. As nurses committed to healing, we feel compelled to fix the system. Medicare for All is the cure to ensure our patients get the care they need.”
Moving into the 2020 presidential election season, the AMA continues to lobby against Medicare for All and endorses former Vice President Joe Biden, a skeptic of single-payer healthcare.