House Republican doctors reach breaking point with AMA

Republican doctors in Congress are growing frustrated with the American Medical Association, citing what they call the group’s “woke” policies on gender-affirming abortion and care as a turning point in their relationship.

Why is this important: The tension could make it harder for Republicans and the AMA to work on less contentious and bipartisan issues such as prior authorization, physician reimbursement rates and provider mental health and burnout.

What they say : Many members of the Doctors Caucus told Axios that they met with WADA leadership last week.

  • “[W]hen they told us their priorities, they aligned with our priorities. But it’s like, it doesn’t seem like those are your priorities. What seem to be your priorities are abortion and transgender issues,” said Rep. Brad Wenstrup, one of the Physicians Caucus co-chairs.
  • “It seems like all you care about are wokeness issues,” Wenstrup said, defining the group’s policies on abortion and transgender issues as “woke” because they don’t fit the position. “pro-life” of the Physicians Caucus and feel like a mandate to practice medicine they disagree with.
  • And it’s not just in the House. Senator Rand Paul told Axios that the AMA “has long been very left or left of center…they’re also disproportionately represented by academic doctors.”
  • “If I had the time, I could probably tell you 20 things the AMA has done in the last five years that I disagree with,” Paul said.
  • Not all Republicans express such strong views on the AMA. “I’m a member of the AMA,” Rep. Michael Burgess, another Physicians Caucus co-chair, told Axios. “We all need to talk. We have a lot of issues to deal with.”

Enlarge: The AMA issued new policies last year in response to everything from the Dobbs decision to climate change. These are dictated by a House of Delegates which annually votes on the positions the organization should take on medical issues.

Between the lines: House Republicans have been frustrated with the AMA for some time, but things seem to have come to a breaking point over the past year. It may be part of a larger GOP trend to cut ties with professional associations.

  • “I think the AMA, it’s been going on maybe longer, but this summer when they were on the Hill testifying about the gun violence and to some extent the Dobbs decision, that might have been the end of it.” , said Joe Grogan, a USC. -Schaeffer Senior Fellow and former Trump administration official.

  • Grogan pointed out how the Chamber of Commerce has traditionally been tied to Republicans, but last year became more aligned with Democrats due to the GOP viewing some of their policies as “too woke”.
  • AMA lobbyists are now “persona non grata” with members’ offices, a former House Republican health care staffer has said.
  • That’s beyond the AMA and extends to other professional medical groups, like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics, Paul said.

The other side: WADA President Jack Resneck told Axios in an interview that while he knows some WADA policies may be considered controversial, no doctor is likely to agree with all of them. group positions.

  • “With this group of doctors in Congress, we have an alignment,” said Resneck, who cited pre-clearance and payment rates as issues with bipartisan support. “But yes, there will also be some issues that we don’t always agree on.”
  • “We have a very strong relationship with members of Congress and I’m confident that will continue to be the case,” Resneck added.

What we are looking at: Prior authorization is a potential area of ​​compromise. A bill streamlining process in Medicare Advantage passed the House last year, and Resneck said he hopes to work with members of Congress to reintroduce it.

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