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June 26, 2006



"One post says the doctor shortage is a myth.: The American Medical Association limits the number of doctors that can be trained in the US in order to maintain their monopoly pricing power. There are many qualified applicants that are turned away."

This comment is FILLED with "myths." First of all, the AMA has no direct control over America's medical schools - they are independently operated by hospitals and universities throughout the nation, MANY with state and federal funding, and make their own financial and educational decisions about the size of their classes.

Frankly, I think it's a GOOD thing that not everyone who applies to medical school is accepted and that there's a stringent selection process. Not everyone is suited to be a physician and not everyone is, frankly, smart enough. Just because I might WANT to be a diva at the Metropolitan Opera doesn't mean I can sing well enough to BE one....

And as to the "monopoly pricing power" this person references....WHAT pricing power? The only power the AMA has over pricing anything is the cost of membership in the AMA.

Not only does the AMA not control prices that physicians charge, neither do the physicians themselves! In fact, so many OTHER entities, like the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) which controls Medicare payments, Medicaid, and commercial insurance companies, control what physicians charge that physicians have virtually NO say over the level of their own reimbursement. (Unless the physician either operates a concierge practice and doesn't accept insurance or is a plastic surgeon who does procedures which aren't COVERED by insurance....)

The AMA is a professional association, an organization in which membership is voluntary. It has no governmental powers or direct influence over medical schools, residency programs or how physicians practice medicine. It can make recommendations and support legislation and has a fair amount of influence on Capitol Hill due to the fact that it is the organization that represents the largest number of physicians in America, but its resolutions aren't binding on anyone who doesn't want to follow them. So blame the AMA for not being powerful enough if you like, but don't attribute power to it that it doesn't possess....blaming the AMA for doctor shortages and the cost of health care is just plain ignorant.....

And as to the doctor shortage being a "myth," tell that to the families of the patients who died in southeast PA in transit to Philadelphia hospitals because there were no neurosurgeons available in 450,000-resident Chester County....

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