Is the AMA Shifting to the Democratic Camp?
Although the American Medical Association has been "largely aligned" with the Republican Party, the organization is currently "being painted by an increasing number of GOP stalwarts as a booster of Democrats and their causes," the Chicago Tribune reports. Last month, Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, "accused" the AMA of "being aligned with Democratic-leaning trial lawyers on the issue of medical malpractice." During a Ways and Means health subcommittee hearing, Thomas said to AMA President-elect Richard Corlin, "The health plans are consistent, and the trial lawyers are consistent. So I just think it underscores the fact that politics sometimes makes strange bedfellows, because you're the only ones that have shifted in terms of the position." In addition to lending support in political debates, the AMA is giving more campaign contributions to Democrats. In the 1996 and 1998 elections, the organization gave more than 70% of its donations to Republicans, but in the 2000 elections, Democrats received 47% of the AMA's $2.1 million in donations. The AMA, however, says it only looks at the issue, not the political backing behind it, when engaging in a debate. AMA board member Dr. Tim Flaherty said that the organization's position on patients' rights legislation has had "strong bipartisan support from lawmakers." Flaherty said, "We don't think this is a question of partisanship, but it's really a question of the issue. We are very sensitive to the issue of patient rights. If that is cloaked in a partisan manner, we don't see it that way" (Japsen, Chicago Tribune, 5/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.