Maine doctors blast Florida colleagues for criticizing national group over health reform letdown

Doctors in Maine are upset at their Florida colleagues' criticism of the American Medical Association for endorsing the healthcare reform law without getting enough in return.

The Maine Medical Association argues that Florida doctors' official expression of "no confidence" in the AMA's leadership risks weakening the organization's ability to "effectively advocate for physicians and the patients they serve."

"This action threatens the very principles that our AMA was founded upon," they argue.

"A football team whose members brawl among themselves will not win. A country whose elections are followed by secession attempts will not survive. A divided medical community will not be relevant," the Maine group's president and chairman write in a letter to Ardis Hoven, the chair of the AMA Board of Trustees. "The upcoming rulemaking process is an opportunity, which may not be seen again for decades. Now is not the time to squander our influence in petty bickering."

The Florida Medical Association considered splitting from the AMA over the summer because the national group wasn't able to make progress on two of its top priorities — overhauling the Medicare physician payment system and medical malpractice reform — despite endorsing the bill.

In the end, the FMA opted to send a sharply worded letter to share its "strong message of dissatisfaction with the AMA leadership" for supporting healthcare reform and its "serious reservations about the AMA's effectiveness and its ability to represent the physicians' interests."