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Coalition Opposing the AMA SOPP Sets Next Steps at August 15 Meeting PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Coalition Opposing the AMA SOPP Sets Next Steps at August Meeting

Summary: Last June, when the American Nurses Association hastily pulled together a coalition of 26 organizations to publish a joint statement opposing the Scope of Practice Partnership of the American Medical Association's, the founders anticipated on one-shot deal. Now, with a meeting on August 15, the Coalition for Patient Rights, as it is called, has jumped in membership - including new CAM-IM organizations - reaffirmed its mission,  suggested organizational fees, and appears to be preparing for the long haul. Here is report on developments.

The Coalition for Patient Rights (CPR), founded by 24 organizations to respond to the Scope of Practice Partnership (SOPP) campaign of the American Medical Association has opened its doors to other organizations and taken steps to prepare for a long campaign following an August 15 meeting in
Silver Spring, Maryland.

Image Representatives of 31 organizations were either present or on phone lines. Among the new complementary and integrated health care organizations represented - joining the American Chiropractic Association - were:

  • Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care
  • American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
  • American Association for Oriental Medicine
  • Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium

The meeting kicked off with participants offering their assessments of the emerging landscape. A repeat theme touched on efforts to avoid confrontation and the wasting resources if a battle can be avoided. These spoke of efforts to open dialogue with a given organization's medical counterparts. Others reported state and federal battles presently engaged in either legislative or regulatory arenas.

Goal, Structure, Leadership, "Dues"


Following the look at developments in the landscape, the group reaffirmed the Coalition's "Goal of CPR":

To ensure that patients have access to quality
healthcare provided by licensed health professionals of their choice.


The group reportedly engaged significant discussion regarding membership criteria. "Minimal membership" elements were listed as: oppose the AMA SOPP; oppose the AMA Resolution 814; and agreeing with the CPR goal. Members will also be national organization which will represent interests of state affiliates and individuals. The national organizations were charged to communicate with their state affiliates and prepare them, as necessary, for state issues.

Governance will be led by a Steering Committee of representatives of nine of the involved

What might be
the view
of such
organizations
as the
American Holistic

Medical Association
and the Consortium
of Academic Health
Centers for
  Integrative
Medicine? 


 
organizations. Their initial charge involves clarifying structure and processes, communication strategies, and coordinating development of media resources. One question raised: Are there anti-trust implications from the AMA action?

Coalition participants acknowledged the need for funding.  A decision was to ask each organization to minimally set aside $5000 in the coming budget year to support CPR activities.

Comment: I was struck, on learning of the Coalition's actions, by the classic, political paradox: extend an olive branch while preparing for war. Participants reportedly highlighted the importance of developing support from medical doctors who may be AMA members (or not) but are opposed to the SOPP campaign. One mentioned a conventional medical specialty society which might join CPR. (What, I wonder, might the position of such organizations as the American Holistic Medical Association and the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine be?) Yet clearly fire-fights already dot the landscape the Coalition participants inhabit.

Good Clinical MDs and
AMA-SOPP's Fables

When news of the AMA Scope of Practice Partnership broke, I turned to Lou Sportelli, DC, for perspective. Sportelli, president of Integrator sponsor NCMIC Group, was among the chiropractic leaders who successfully fought the 10-year anti-trust battle against the AMA during the 1980s. Sportelli echoed the split view of MD leaders which is expressed by CPR members. He distinguishes between "clinical medicine" and "political medicine":

Image
Lou Sportelli, DC, on the split between clinical and political medicine
"These resolution(s) should come as no surprise. However it must be remembered that the AMA does not represent all of medicine any more than the word 'the public' defines all segments of consumers. 

"There are two groups which come under this umbrella and must be considered very differently. One is clinical medicine, those excellent physicians who want what is best for their patients and who were appalled, dismayed and embarrassed at what their trade association (the AMA) did to chiropractors in their effort to contain and eliminate them as practitioners and retain a monopoly over healthcare. 

"Then there is political medicine, that group within the AMA who are no better than any trade association or guild trying to protect and retain monopoly over the practice of and delivery of health care. History has shown that the AMA is capable of doing anything to retain this monopoly and because of their influence have in fact been able to suppress other forms of health care. 

"Today however, the consuming public is keenly aware of the AMA and their tactics. The public recognizes that this trade association receives millions of dollars from drug companies. The AMA has serious credibility issues with their 'patient safety' disguise. Thus the AMA's quest to suppress other health care professions will fail. 

"The public has spoken and demanded complementary and alternative approaches because of the often failed efforts of traditional allopathic approaches. These AMA efforts will fail like their efforts to contain and eliminate chiropractic. 

"Fortunately today we know what the AMA is capable of having done in the past. Before we knew this, many thought the chiropractic community was paranoid.  Today the evidence speaks for itself and not many give credibility to the AMA as they did in the past."

I hope Sportelli is right. Of course, as opined here before, we are dealing with a public which, following a constant campaign of fictions, was sold on WMDs as an excuse to wage a different sort of turf war. Now, we have the AMA with $25,000 per SOPP organization, and another $150,000 plus from the AMA, versus a hoped-for $5000 per CPR organization. 

We will see how much this public, and its political representatives, will be buying AMA-SOPP's fables.

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