Florida physicians blast national group for supporting healthcare reform but decline to part ways

Florida physicians have "no confidence" in the American Medical Association's handling of the healthcare reform debate, Florida Medical Association (FMA) President Madelyn Butler said Monday.

"The FMA House of Delegates strongly believes that the American Medical Association has failed to represent practicing physicians on the issue of healthcare reform," Butler said in a statement. "The FMA has voted to express these grave concerns to the AMA by sending a letter conveying a vote of 'no confidence' in the current AMA leadership regarding this issue. After passionate debate and testimony, the overwhelming sentiment was that the FMA members and leadership continue to have serious concerns about the effectiveness of the AMA and its ability to represent physicians' interests."

The Florida Medical Association's House of Delegates over the weekend was expected to take up a resolution splitting with the AMA, The Hill first reported last month. The resolution was proposed by Fort Myers plastic surgeon Douglas Stevens, who called the AMA's inability to get Congress to reform the Medicare payment system for physicians — something the traditionally conservative doctors lobby expected in exchange for supporting the Democrats' law — a "fiasco." 

In the end, the Florida group declined to take up the resolution, opting to send a strongly worded letter of disapproval to the AMA. The letter isn't expected to be completed until the end of the week.

"It is important that the FMA continues to advocate for Florida's physicians and our 20,000-plus members and ensure that Florida's physicians stay engaged as we develop federal policy and advocacy positions on behalf of organized medicine," Butler said. "Therefore, the FMA will continue to send a delegation to the AMA's annual and interim meetings. We are hopeful that the AMA will recognize the concerns of the FMA, one of the largest and most representative healthcare associations in the nation, and we will continue to ensure that the FMA aggressively carries out its mission in Florida of helping physicians practice medicine."

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), furious at the AMA for its support of Democrats' healthcare reform law, gleefully drew reporters' attention to the news out of Florida on Monday.