The American Medical Association has quit a coalition that’s led the health industry’s fight against Medicare expansion, the first crack in its opposition to Democratic candidates’ proposals.
The AMA’s logo is no longer visible on the website of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, and multiple individuals with knowledge of the decision told POLITICO that the physicians’ organization decided to drop out after the coalition broadened its opposition last month from “Medicare for All” to more incremental proposals like former Vice President Joe Biden’s plan for a government-run public option. The AMA in June agreed at an annual meeting to study the feasibility of a public option after years of opposition to single-payer health care.
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The partnership confirmed that the AMA had left. “Our diverse and fast-growing coalition strongly agrees with the American Medical Association that Medicare for all is the wrong approach for America’s health care and we have appreciated the opportunity to work with them throughout the past year,” the partnership said in a statement.
The AMA confirmed its departure. “Missing in the recent debate is an ongoing discussion of practical solutions that will result in more affordable insurance options,” CEO James Madara said in a statement to POLITICO, adding that the association recently laid out proposals to help achieve universal coverage. “The AMA decided to leave the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future so that we can devote more time to advocating for these policies that will address current coverage gaps and dysfunction in our health care system.”
The partnership — comprised of nearly 60 groups, including the American Hospital Association and AHIP — has spent millions of dollars advertising against Democrats’ Medicare expansion ideas and is currently running a messaging campaign against Biden’s public option proposal. Medicare pays hospitals and doctors at lower rates than private insurance.
“Vice President Biden’s proposal for a new government insurance system through a ‘public option’ would undermine the progress our nation has made and ultimately lead our nation down the path of a one-size-fits-all health care system run by Washington,” Lauren Crawford Shaver, the coalition’s executive director, said in a July statement.
The AMA was among the partnership’s founding members in spring 2018. Several other member organizations affirmed that they will remain part of the industry coalition, blaming the AMA’s departure on internal dissension between younger doctors who support Democrats’ proposals and older physicians who remain wary of expanding government-run coverage.
“They caved to the hard left, plain and simple,” said a representative from another of the coalition’s member organizations. “This is about members of the AMA, not members of the partnership.”