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Doctors’ lobby losing clout on Hill

Politico, July 12, 2010

Months after delivering its crucial endorsement of the health care overhaul, the American Medical Association has found itself with fewer friends on Capitol Hill and more critics questioning its lobbying savvy. Its troubles couldn’t come at a worse time: It is more dependent than ever on having allies in Congress, thanks to the growing number of Medicare patients. The AMA’s most prominent lobbying failure has  been its inability to repeal the obsolete formula governing payments for Medicare patients — a method that has for years required regular temporary “fixes” to avoid big pay cuts for doctors. “For the amount of money that AMA spends, it doesn’t seem to get the bang for their buck,” said a senior Republican health staffer who has worked with the group. “By contrast, the American Hospital Association is much more careful and strategic how it uses its resources and has gotten a lot more done. They’re certainly much more respected and have better access on the Hill.”