AMA: Controversy Surrounds Summer Meeting
Members of the American Medical Association will gather in Chicago this week to weigh in on issues facing the medical community and to pick a president-elect. But the nation's largest doctors' lobby also will seek to buck the "visible signs of malaise in an organization that once wielded unparalleled clout in American health care," the Washington Post reports (Goldstein, 6/15). The AMA is still reeling from the controversial Sunbeam endorsement deal almost a year later. Last night, members urged the organization's board to disclose the costs of the aborted deal with the Florida home care products manufacturer. So far, the AMA has refused to reveal how much it spent "in legal expenses or how much it has paid in severance packages to executives who departed in the wake of the scandal," the Chicago Tribune reports.
In With The New?
The Sunbeam deal stands to be the major issue in the election of a new president-elect Wednesday (Japsen, 6/15). Washington, DC, rheumatologist Raymond Scalettar is challenging board Chair Thomas Reardon for the spot in "a last-minute insurgent campaign." The Washington Post, which recounts Scalettar's bid in a front page story today, reports that "whether [he] wins or not, the disaffection signified by his candidacy is a remarkable chance in an organization that once wielded immense power" (6/15). During a debate yesterday, Scalettar noted that Reardon was on the board that approved the Sunbeam deal, while Reardon "said it was his leadership that pulled the AMA through the Sunbeam crisis," an event he called "a thing of the past" (Chicago Tribune, 6/15).
On To The Issues
Besides choosing a president-elect, the organization "will vote on about 300 reports and resolutions addressing some of the most difficult and controversial issues in medicine today," the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Among the issues delegates are expected to address are human cloning, online gambling, court-ordered castration, non-addicting cigarettes, physician sex and needle-exchange programs. "This is where you get the collective voice of medicine, from the grass roots to the top," said Dr. Richard Geline, president of the Illinois State Medical Society (Ritter, 6/12).
The Sun-Times also reports that the AMA's new CEO, Dr. E. Ratcliffe Anderson vowed to work to attract new members to the group, calling it his "first priority." He said, "If we don't reverse the current trends, by the year 2023, we won't have any members at all." Only 36% of American doctors are members of the AMA, down from 75% in the 1960s (Wolinsky/Manor, 6/15).
On The Sunny Side
The Wall Street Journal reports that Sunbeam Corp. will announced today that it has fired Chair and CEO Albert Dunlap and that "the company appears headed for an operating loss in the second quarter." Peter Langerman will replace Dunlap (Brannigan/Hagerty, 6/15).