August 2002 Bulletin

AMA reorganization in the works

By Robert Fine, JD, CAE

In an effort to address declining membership, the American Medical Association (AMA) has just approved a restructuring initiative aimed at transforming the association into an "organization of organizations." If this new structure is successful, physicians will become members of the AMA by being members of their specialty societies or state medical associations. Physicians who are not members of these other organizations will still be able to join the AMA on their own.

The AMA’s policymaking arm, the House of Delegates, approved this initiative at its Annual Meeting in June. The 500-plus delegates voted overwhelmingly in favor of creating a formal business plan by June 2003 that will detail the specific functions, dues structures and governance of the new organization.

If the House of Delegates approves the business plan next June, it will be presented to all of the nation’s major medical specialty societies, including the AAOS, and state medical associations for their review and approval. It is uncertain how these organizations will respond to the proposed business plan. Sticking points are likely to be the dues requirements for belonging to the new AMA and the loss of some autonomy that participating organizations might experience in being part of this larger organization.

Over 50 orthopaedists are in the House of Delegates. They represent several specialty societies, including the AAOS, and state medical associations. Most of these delegates backed the decision to create a proposed business plan, believing that the re-organization idea should not be judged one way or the other until all the details are worked out.

To date, AAOS leaders have not accepted or rejected the idea of an organization of organizations. The leadership believes a decision should not be made until the details are understood and they have an indication of how the AAOS membership might feel about the idea.

Robert Fine, JD, CAE is director of the AAOS health policy department. He can be reached at (847) 384-4322 or at

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