Uh, We’re Waiting On The AMA by Pat Conrad MD

When I’m running short of things to make fun of in medicine, all I can say is thank goodness for the good ol’ AMA.

When they aren’t busy bestowing honorifics upon each other or thinking of new ways to help physicians while they screw them, the American Medical Association delegates are a veritable fool’s grab bag of goofy ideas.  At their Chicago confab this past June, these self-impotentates decided to take on – deeep breath – homelessness and racial segregation.  Which, if you think about it, has a funny sort of historical symmetry.

LBJ instituted Medicare and Medicaid, forever putting the AMA effectively in the service of the federal government.  Those were part of LBJ’s “Great Society,” which should also have cured homelessness, segregation, and the other ills of poverty and disenfranchisement.  Since his results were not, shall we say, entirely successful, it’s nice to see his lackeys at the AMA take a whack.

There is an estimated half-million plus U.S. homeless on any given night.  What to do?

“In an effort to alleviate chronic homelessness in the U.S., existing policy was amended by the House of Delegates calling on the AMA to ‘recognize that stable, affordable housing as a first priority, without mandated therapy or service compliance, is effective in improving housing stability and quality of life among individuals who are chronically homeless.’”

– Why did the AMA even have a policy on homelessness that could be amended?

– How do we determine “affordable”, and exactly how is the AMA proposing to first determine, and then (presumably) pay for this generous goal?

– No “mandated therapy or service compliance”?  So the AMA proposes not to saddle the mentally ill or and/or unemployed with either treatment or work requirements?  That should work well.

– Where does the AMA stand on rural electrification, making all homes internet accessible, or affordable public transportation?

“’It is important that we take steps to improve the health and well-being of people who are facing chronic homelessness, and focusing on housing first may help do that,’ said AMA Trustee Ryan J. Ribeira, MD, MPH.”  It is well-known that an unnamed major medical group based in Chicago – ahem -recently cancelled its convention plans in San Francisco because of the health and safety hazard posed by sidewalks strewn with used needles, piles of excrement, and hundreds of actual  zombies stumbling around within arm’s length of assault.  So may I suggest, Dr. Ribeira, that you are full of exactly what is found on the Bay City’s sidewalks?  If there were a scintilla of substance behind your bleatings, you and your fellow delegates would head to San Fran to be closer to the problem, and maybe hand out cheese sandwiches and clean needles on corners instead of gathering in ballrooms giving each other awards, while sipping Chardonnay before it all burns up.  You want to be known for your good words and wishes, while encouraging government to spend someone else’s money.

Not content with wishing to fix homelessness, the House of Medicine busybodies also came up with this gem:

“With the aim of addressing racial housing segregation as an amplifier of health disparities, delegates adopted policy saying that the AMA:

  • Oppose policies that enable racial housing segregation.
  • Advocate continued federal funding of publicly-accessible geospatial data on community racial and economic disparities and disparities in access to affordable housing, employment, education and health care, including but not limited to the Department of Housing and Urban Development Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing tool.”

Oh brother.  Trustee Willarda V. Edwards, MD. says, “The AMA remains committed to eliminating health disparities in this country in order to achieve health equity and will continue to push for measures that improve the health of the nation.”  A benign sounding statement, until you think of the way some low- and middle-income folks have had their property values screwed by Title VIII housing.  Once again, under cover of affordable diabetes treatment and vaccinating everyone, the AMA is trying to sound compassionate by trumpeting ideas that are none of their business, and that they cannot enact.  All they can do is encourage an already oppressive government to take other peoples’ money and do good with it.  If those are your politics then grab a banner and march, vote, run for office, whatever you like.  But like comedians who use their jobs to preach, the AMA is pushing a political agenda while hiding in a white coat.  We can call their policy positions many things, but “medicine” is not one of them.

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120920cookie-checkUh, We’re Waiting On The AMA by Pat Conrad MD