Thank God for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). While the AMA has been busy selling its name to the Sunbeam Corporation and giving its seal of approval to HCFA in return for profits from the sale of coding books, the AAPS has shown yet again it's unwavering commitment to the patient-doctor relationship and professional ethics. While the AMA is busy collaborating with the enemy (HCFA) to bring us increased government bureaucracy, the AAPS is fighting back by filing a lawsuit against HCFA.
For those who say that you have to "go along to get along," and you "can't fight city hall," we note it was the AAPS that successfully sued the Clintons over the illegal secrecy of the Health Care Task Force (AAPS v. Clinton --- judgment in favor of AAPS $285,000 against the Clintons for violation of FACA law). The AAPS exposed the conflicts of interest of Task Force members and other secrets of the Health Care Task Force and in so doing helped to derail the train heading for totalitarian, socialized medicine in this country.
Physicians in this country owe a great debt of gratitude to the AAPS for having courage to stand up and fight back against big government intrusion into the practice of medicine (unlawful interference in the case of Medicare --- Sec. 1801 of the Act). Laying down and "just taking it," or worse, collaborating with the enemy, only brings more government bureaucracy and more unlawful government interference in the practice of medicine. It's time to stand up and fight back!
Lawrence R. Huntoon, MD, PhD
Correspondence originally published in the Medical Sentinel 1998;3(4);109-113. Copyright©1998 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).
In the March 2, 1998 issue of AMNews, your headlines glared: "AMA acts to quell E&M flap," and then, on the glossy cover of AMNews (March 23, 1998), you also beamed, "With a powerful, unified voice an AMA/Federation of Medicine campaign is pushing hard for substantial improvements to Medicare coding documentation guidelines that more and more physicians say are unfair and burdensome. Medicare's 'documentation guidelines for evaluation and management (E&M) services' are at the heart of the situation --- which AMA President Percy Wootton, MD, calls a 'pressing priority.' " But then, who claimed credit in the same (March 23, 1998) issue of AMNews for authoring this oppressive and anti-competitive E&M guidelines in 1992? The AMA! Well, it seems as if the famous possum of the Okefenokee Swamp of Georgia, Pogo, was wrong after all. We have met the enemy, and it is not us! It's the AMA pragmatic leadership which keeps shooting itself in the foot --- and the rank-and-file physicians in the head!
Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.
Editor-in-Chief, Medical Sentinel
[The two previous letters were sent to but not published in AMNews. See News and Analysis on page 114 of this issue for updated information. ---Editor.]