Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Some things change, and some things don't

Joe Conason gives us a brief history of the American Medical Association's (AMA) decades-long lobbying against comprehensive national health insurance in Time to Yank the A.M.A.'s License PolitickerNY.com 06/16/09:

In The Culture of the Cold War, Stephen J. Whitfield recalls how the A.M.A. vowed to “resist the enslavement of the medical profession,” warning that Truman was attempting to impose “a monstrosity of Bolshevik bureaucracy” on America. In pamphlets issued to fight the Truman plan, A.M.A. publicists included a phony quote from Lenin proclaiming “socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the Socialist State.” The same pamphlets smeared supporters of Truman’s “compulsory health insurance” plan by connecting them to the Communist Party.

Having killed Truman’s bill, the A.M.A. continued to amass enormous amounts of money for what historians say was the most massive special-interest campaign in American history from the beginning of the republic to that time. Among the darkest episodes was its opposition to free government-sponsored distribution of the Salk polio vaccine, which the A.M.A. and its extremist allies regarded as yet another step toward socialism. That plan, too, was killed, depriving millions of children and adults of critical care during a national epidemic, in an act that amounted to a lobbying violation of the Hippocratic oath.
Blind dogma rather than narrow self-interest (and forget about "enlightened self-interest") often drives the AMA's political positions. Today in the United States, a majority of doctors are not members of the AMA. But their reactionary position on national health insurance will be one we'll hear a lot this year.

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