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FMA votes ‘no confidence’ in AMA

By Carol Gentry
8/16/2010 © Health News Florida

The Florida Medical Association decided Sunday after two days of heated debate not to break off relations with the American Medical Association, officials and delegates said at the conclusion of the event.

Instead, FMA will send AMA a letter describing just how unhappy it is with the national group’s actions on health reform.

In a formal written statement, Executive Vice President Timothy J. Stapleton said FMA letter will convey a vote of ‘no confidence’ on that issue. "The FMA House of Delegates strongly believes that the American Medical Association has failed to represent practicing physicians on the issue of health care reform,” Stapleton wrote.

On the other hand, he wrote, “It is important that the FMA continues to advocate for Florida's physicians and our 20,000-plus members and ensure that Florida's physicians stay engaged as we develop federal policy and advocacy positions on behalf of organized medicine.

“Therefore, the FMA will continue to send a delegation to the AMA's annual and interim meetings. We are hopeful that the AMA will recognize the concerns of the FMA, one of the largest and most representative health care associations in the nation, and we will continue to ensure that the FMA aggressively carries out its mission in Florida of helping physicians practice medicine." 

No reporters were allowed to attend this year's annual meeting -- a departure from the past. 

One of the delegates, Tampa surgeon Michael Wasylik, said Sunday evening that the resolution to break off with AMA never came to a vote. A reference committee that considered the matter on Saturday sent it to the House of Delegates with a recommendation against approval.

When it got to the floor, an amendment calling for the letter of protest to AMA was substituted.

Wasylik said he spoke against the resolution because breaking off relations with AMA would mean “we’d have no voice at all” and AMA would move even further from the positions that Florida physicians hold.

He said the venting was probably necessary, since “doctors are really, really upset with the AMA. Doctors are so angry they can’t see straight.”

They feel the AMA shouldn’t have supported the administration’s health-reform efforts if the group couldn’t get some of what it wanted, such as malpractice reform and a fix for the Medicare payment formula.

The resolution that would have ruptured relations with AMA was introduced by Fort Myers plastic surgeon Douglas Stevens.

Stevens said he felt the government was trying to take over the health-care system and that physicians should form a new organization that will more actively fight it. His explanation appeared in Health News Florida last week. 

--Carol Gentry, Editor, can be reached at 727-410-3266 or by e-mail at Carol.Gentry@HealthNewsFlorida.org