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AMA debates health insurance mandate, reports membership loss

The Chicago Tribune, June 20, 2011

The American Medical Association disclosed it lost 12,000 dues-paying member physicians last year, which some blame on the national doctor group's support of the health overhaul law that is subject of intense debate among AMA members this week in Chicago. The disclosure this morning during the AMA's annual policy-making House of Delegates meeting comes as member doctors consider withdrawing support of a key tenet of the health overhaul law that requires Americans to purchase an insurance plan. The AMA is also debating scores of other issues, including whether to support state taxes on sugar-sweetened drinks, Medicare payment polices and public health issues. The Chicago-based national doctors group disclosed this morning in testimony about a continued deterioration of its membership, that it has "just under" 216,000 member doctors, which is down about 5 percent from the 228,000 members at the end of  2009. The bulk of the 12,000 members who left the AMA last year pay the full $420 annual dues, AMA delegates said this morning. The group said about one-third of its members are younger doctors, residents and medical students who pay less than $50 compared to the $420 paid by full dues-paying members the AMA is losing.