Maine Medical Assn. backs AMA after Florida's no-confidence vote

Maine physician leaders say the medical community should not be divided, but the Florida Medical Assn. stands by its decision.

By Doug Trapp — Posted Sept. 29, 2010

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The Maine Medical Assn. has rebuked a Florida Medical Assn. vote of no confidence in the American Medical Association. A Sept. 23 letter said, "A divided medical community will not be relevant."

The FMA debated withdrawing from the AMA during its annual meeting in August but voted instead to express its lack of confidence in the AMA's ability to represent physicians' interests.

According to a Sept. 7 letter to the AMA from FMA President Madelyn E. Butler, MD, the medical society took the action because the AMA supported a health system reform bill without meaningful medical liability reform, among other provisions of interest to physicians.

The MMA said members of a democratic organization like the AMA should advocate for their positions by campaigning for leaders to represent their views. But once the elections are over, the AMA's member organizations should support the elected leaders, according to the letter to the AMA from MMA President Jo E. Linder, MD, and MMA Executive Committee Chair Kenneth Christian, MD (link).

"A football team whose members brawl among themselves will not win," Drs. Linder and Christian wrote.

AMA Board of Trustees Chair Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, said in a statement: "We appreciate the Maine Medical Assn.'s focus on unity in the future. As I have traveled around the country meeting with physicians, I have encountered a strong interest in working together on issues that matter most to physicians and patients. The health reform law was an important step forward, but there is more work to be done. The AMA will continue to work to fix our broken Medicare physician payment system and enact medical liability reforms."

The FMA stood by its vote and downplayed the significance of the MMA's letter.

FMA Executive Vice President Timothy J. Stapleton responded in a Sept. 28 statement, saying, in part, that the FMA letter accurately reflects the views of its members.

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