American Medical Association rips Trump’s claim that doctors inflating COVID-19 numbers

The American Medical Association (AMA) on Friday issued a scathing statement condemning President Trump’s claim that doctors are purposefully inflating coronavirus case numbers, calling the suggestion “malicious, outrageous, and completely misguided.”

Trump, while speaking at a rally in Waterford Township, Mich., on Friday, argued without evidence that doctors are improperly counting coronavirus deaths for monetary gain.

“Our doctors get more money if somebody dies from COVID. You know that, right? I mean our doctors are very smart people. So what they do is they say, ‘I’m sorry, but everybody dies of COVID,'” he said.

Trump argued that other countries put less of an emphasis on COVID-19 as a cause of death than the U.S. does, adding, “With us, when in doubt, choose COVID. It’s true.”

Trump pushed a similar claim during a rally in Wisconsin last weekend, saying that “doctors get more money and hospitals get more money” if COVID-19 is listed as a cause of death. 

Susan Bailey, the president of the AMA, pushed back on Trump’s claims, pointing to work physicians, nurses and frontline health care workers have done during the pandemic to treat their patients.

“They did it because duty called and because of the sacred oath they took. The suggestion that doctors—in the midst of a public health crisis—are overcounting COVID-19 patients or lying to line their pockets is a malicious, outrageous, and completely misguided charge,” Bailey said in a statement Friday without directly naming the president.

The AMA, the country’s largest doctors group, has criticized the Trump administration before. In August, the group blasted the federal government’s guidance that asymptomatic individuals do not need to be tested for the coronavirus, warning it would like to a spike in cases.

Bailey noted Friday that coronavirus cases in the U.S. hit record highs this week, recording roughly 97,000 new infections on Friday alone. The figure broke the previous record of 88,521 new coronavirus cases, which had been set on Thursday.

The nationwide surge in cases comes just ahead of the winter season, during which experts say the increase will be exacerbated as social gatherings move indoors, where the virus can spread more easily.

“Rather than attacking us and lobbing baseless charges at physicians, our leaders should be following the science and urging adherence to the public health steps we know work—wearing a mask, washing hands and practicing physical distancing,” Bailey concluded in her statement.

Trump argued that other countries were attributing deaths among coronavirus patients to underlying factors but claimed medical professional in the U.S. were listing anything as a coronavirus-related death to obtain additional funds.

“In Germany and other places, if you have a heart attack or if you have cancer, you’re terminally ill, you catch COVID, they say you die of cancer, you died of heart attack. With us, when in doubt, choose COVID. It’s true. No, it’s true. Now they’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s terrible what he said,’ but that’s true. It’s like $2,000 more so you get more money,” Trump said.

CNN noted that, according to medical professionals, if someone who has a preexisting condition gets coronavirus and then dies, their cause of death would be COVID-19.

“The underlying cause of death is the condition that began the chain of events that ultimately led to the person’s death. In 92% of all deaths that mention COVID-19, COVID-19 is listed as the underlying cause of death,” Bob Anderson, chief of mortality statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said last month in a statement provided to CNN.

Trump has faced widespread criticism for his remarks.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden praised the work of health care professionals during a campaign stop in Minnesota, saying, “They do their jobs. Donald Trump should stop attacking them and do his job.” 

Doctors and nurses were also among those who took to Twitter to push back against the president’s remarks.

“As an Iraq war vet and ER doctor, I risk my life every f—ing day at work treating patients with COVID. I’m not asking for a thank you, but I am asking that Trump doesn’t lie and disrespect us,” wrote Twitter user Cleavon Gilman.

Tags American Medical Association coronavirus death counts COVID-19 pandemic doctors Donald Trump healthcare professionals Jim Acosta Joe Biden nurses

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