Seema Verma Seema Verma (Photo: CMS)

Members of the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates came close Tuesday to approving support for federal Medicare for All proposals.

AMA House members defeated the Medicare for All support measure by a 47% to 53% vote, in Chicago, at the AMA annual meeting.

Members instead approved a replacement measure that calls for:

  • Improving Affordable Care Act (ACA) programs.
  • Expanding middle-income Americans’ access to the ACA health insurance premium tax credit subsidy programs.
  • Expanding access to an ACA subsidy program that helps some ACA exchange plan users pay their co-payments, deductibles and coinsurance amounts.
  • Studying the idea of having the government offer all Americans a government-managed “public option” health insurance program.

(Related: Government Could Be the Single Health Care Payer — and the Provider: Democratic Rep)

The AMA represents about 240,000 of the 1.1 million physicians in the United States.

The AMA supported a health insurance mandate in 1915, but it opposed Harry Truman’s national health insurance proposal in 1960.

Dr. Barbara McAneny, the AMA’s president, said in a statement that the AMA is pursuing sustainable, practical solutions.

“Building on the ACA would help cover the uninsured without disrupting the coverage of most Americans,” McAneny said.

Trump’s Health Plan Chief

The administration of President Donald Trump sent Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to Chicago to speak out against Medicare for All proposals.

“We all know that the approach we have taken for generations to fix what ails our health care system is to regulate its every sector, and that has failed,” Verma said, according to a written version of her remarks. “That’s why, as the head of the Medicare program, I’m deeply concerned about proposals for Medicare for All. Medicare for All would enlarge our existing program, threatening its promise of health and hope for America’s seniors, who have paid into it their entire lives.”

Medicare for All would also push 180 million in private health insurance plans into a one-size fits-all government program, Verma said. “You have all experienced the harmful impact of well-meaning government policies on the practice of medicine,” she said.

For physicians, Medicare for All could mean the end of physicians’ ability to decide which payers they want to do business with, and what payments terms they’re willing to accept, Verma said.

Resources

A summary of the AMA Medicare for All discussion is available here.

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