August 2003 Bulletin

Proposal for new AMA organization rejected

By Robert A Fine, JD, CAE

At its June meeting, the American Medical Association’s (AMA) policymaking House of Delegates rejected a proposal to restructure the AMA to become an "organization of organizations" rather than an association of individual physicians. This decision followed the report of a special committee of the House convened to look into the possibility of a restructured AMA. Representatives of the AAOS and other musculoskeletal organizations, as well as other specialty societies and state medical associations, sat on this committee, which conducted its work throughout the winter and spring of this year.

For the last several years, AMA leaders have been looking at ways to restructure the organization because of dwindling membership and revenues. In the latest chapter of this self-examination, some AMA leaders thought the organization should have specialty societies—like the AAOS—and state medical associations as members rather than individual physicians. Under their proposal, these organizations would pay dues to the AMA either through their current operating funds or through a special assessment of their members.

The special committee also looked at the AMA’s basic mission, products and services to see if they are still relevant given the role of other medical organizations in serving America’s physicians.

The special committee concluded that the AMA should continue to have individual physicians as members rather than medical organizations. If the AMA became an organization of organizations, it might jeopardize the tax status and political action committee activities of individual specialty societies and state medical associations.

The committee also decided that the AMA should continue providing most of its current products and services. However, it did make a number of recommendations for cutting costs, including reducing the size of the House of Delegates and making overall AMA operations more efficient. The AMA’s Board of Trustees was directed to look into these recommendations and present an action plan at the December House of Delegates meeting.

Robert A. Fine, JD, CAE, is director of socioeconomic and state society affairs. He can be reached at fine@aaos.org.


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