One factor that makes health care costs difficult to manage is the system the federal government and health insurers use to decide how to pay physicians for the various services they deliver.
In an article in The Washington Post, “How a secretive panel uses data that distorts doctors pay,” journalists Peter Whoriskey and Dan Keating explain that a committee of the American Medical Association meets in private every year to develop values for most of the services doctors perform. The AMA is the chief lobbying group for doctors.
Kaiser Health News’ Mary Agnes Carey and The Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff interviewed Dr. Ardis Hoven, the new American Medical Association president, for an episode of the C-SPAN program “Newsmakers” that aired Sunday.
The three talked about implementation of the Affordable Care Act, a shortage of primary care practitioners, as well as the AMA’s decision to classify obesity as a disease and what to expect from her tenure as president.
We’re proud to note that AHCJ members Bridget M. Kuehn, Mike Mitka, Joan Stephenson and Rebecca Voelker are writing for JAMA‘s new health news blog.
In the first month, the bloggers have used their relationship with the Journal of the American Medical Association as a tool, taking advantage of access to JAMA sources while still covering a wide range of news found in other journals and sources.
According to Sorrel, students are leaving medical school with debt loads that sometimes top $200,000, burdens which some sources said push students away from longer residencies or lower-paying, underserved specializations and locations.
Delegates at the 2009 meeting called for innovative new measures, including “shortening the length of training for combined residency or dual-degree programs, easing loan repayment obligations and ensuring equitable tuition increases.”
In the Columbia Journalism Review, Trudy Lieberman, president of AHCJ’s board of directors, notes that the mighty American Medical Association has started to throw its weight around in the reform arena and, to protect revenues, seems to be siding with the big insurers and pharmaceutical companies. It has been pushing for a universal coverage mandate without publicly funded options — at stance that looks mighty similar to those of its less popular allies. So far, though, the AMA has dodged the majority of the blame. Lieberman calls upon health care journalists to dig deeper into the AMA’s reform involvement and help publicize its role in the process.