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'Medicare for All'? American Medical Association says no, drawing protest in Chicago.

Lisa Schencker, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Health & Fitness

McAneny runs a cancer clinic in New Mexico, where most of her patients are on government health care programs. "I struggle to keep that practice breaking even," she said. "If I did not have the higher rates of commercial payers to make up the shortfall of what I'm funded for Medicare rates, I would end up having to close that practice and leave a lot of people without service."

Still, proponents of Medicare for All call the association's stance antiquated. The group Physicians for a National Health Program protested the association Saturday over its position, shouting "AMA, get out of the way!"

That group contends that without private insurance, hospitals and doctors wouldn't have to spend as much on administration, freeing up dollars for care. It also wants the AMA to stop being a member of a group that opposes single-payer health care called Partnership for America's Health Care Future, which includes as members the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and the insurance industry's main lobbying group.

The physicians' group also notes that many doctors support the concept, pointing to a 2017 survey by physician search firm Merritt Hawkins that found 56% of doctors surveyed either strongly or somewhat supported a single-payer health care system.

"It makes the AMA seem awfully out of touch not only with the public but with the physicians they represent," said Dr. Philip Verhoef, a physician at University of Chicago Medicine, and a member of the national board of Physicians for a National Health Program.

Chicago physician Peter Orris would also like to see the AMA reverse course, saying he believes that Medicare for All would remove unnecessary administrative costs from the system.

 

Still, Orris remains a member of the AMA despite his differing views from the group. Orris is a professor of occupational and environmental medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a practitioner at the health system's hospital.

"How are you going to bring everybody along there unless you're engaging in that debate?" Orris said.

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