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Have Medical Societies Lost Their Way?

A number of us have always maintained memberships in several professional societies, from professional associations, to specialty representation, these societies  have worked tirelessly to advocate for member doctors and assist with professional education and career development.  The question has become have these medical societies lost their way?

Recently a cardiologist expressed his opinion about one of these professional medical societies, the American Medical Association.  What follows are excerpts from his words:

There are other societies, such as the American Medical Association (AMA), that have done little to advocate for doctors or patients. 

The AMA is primarily concerned with generating revenue for its own executives. Less than 15% of U.S. physicians are members of the AMA -- who claim to represent all of "America's Doctors." In reality, the AMA works with Congress to arbitrarily set payments for CPT codes, ICD-10. AMA executives and leaders accept "donations" from many groups in order to lobby Congress and influence policy makers.

Imagine my surprise when I received a mass member email from MY society urging me to join the AMA now.  The reason given for joining the AMA is that if my society did not meet a threshold of 20% of membership also belonging to the AMA, that HRS would lose the right to have a seat at the table when CPT codes regarding reimbursement is discussed — thus having no specialty experts helping to set the bar for these codes.

I find this to be appalling. At first, I was angry, then I began to think about the fact that if my specialty society does not have an opportunity to present the case for better reimbursement at the AMA meetings of delegates, then we all lose.

The real issue is the AMA. WHY do we allow this organization to be the ONLY way that CPT code reimbursements are determined and presented to decision makers in D.C.? HOW does this organization continue to wield such power?

It's time that we stand up and rebuke societies such as the AMA. For the AMA to determine reimbursement codes for all specialties (without guaranteed representation from all specialties at their meetings) is akin to extortion. My specialty society is in fact, being held hostage by the AMA. We must band together in solidarity against the AMA and hold them accountable. We must ask our representatives in Washington to take a closer look -- and make sure that they realize that the AMA only represents about 12% of U.S. doctors. Call your congressman or woman today. Call your senator. Get involved. Let's take back medicine.

His observations are very similar to what the chiropractic profession has long lamented.  If his AMA recognized medical specialty is finding it difficult to have input into the legal determinations of reimbursement, just imagine the difficulties of, to use their wording, “non-physician” medical practitioner such a chiropractic. And this doesn’t even take into consideration that an entire medical profession such as chiropractic is required to purchase and use documentation produced by a profession that has historically sought to limit and eliminate them.

His are good points to consider.

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