AMA Affirms Support for Individual Mandate

Cheryl Clark, June 21, 2011

After two days of debate, the American Medical Association's House of Delegates Monday voted by two-thirds (326-165) to renew its support for the individual mandate, the embattled portion of the Affordable Care Act that requires people who can afford health coverage to purchase it.

"This is a contentious issue for this country," AMA president Cecil Wilson, MD, acknowledged at a news briefing after the vote, which took place at the AMA's annual meeting in Chicago. "It would be most surprising if we would not feel some of that challenge in terms of making decisions."

At the end of the debate, however, Wilson said an "overwhelming" majority of physician delegates voted to continue the stand the association took on the general issue in 2006. The issue was raised by some delegates in part because the constitutionality of that portion of healthcare reform legislation is being challenged in several courts in a number of states.

"Our concern is that if we are not able to have a requirement that people have an individual responsibility to purchase insurance, we're not aware of another solution, except something that would say that the government would make a requirement and tax the individuals for that," Wilson said at a news briefing announcing the delegates' vote.

"From our perspective, the concern would be raised that would take us down a path toward a government run system."

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