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Petition Power: MQAC & AMA
I recently discovered that, in my state, Washington, any individual citizen can petition a state agency to add, remove, or alter a state regulation, provided it remains true to the underlying statute as enacted by the legislature. By law, the responsible agency must consider and act upon the petition. I decided to try my luck by asking for elimination of the privileged status accorded the American Medical Association “Physician’s Recognition Award” in obtaining CME credit.
The Medical Quality Assurance Commission (MQAC) turned me down. Big surprise. But the letter from the Commission Chair, Richard Brantner, MD, contained an unexpected and revealing bonus: “The Commission believes the American Medical Association is a well-respected organization...” Now I can appeal MQAC’s decision to Governor Jay Inslee. Please comment on my draft letter below:
Dear Gov. Inslee:
The Medical Quality Assurance Commission denied my request to remove the phrase “a current Physician’s Recognition Award from the American Medical Association” from the continuing education requirement specified in Washington Administrative Code 246-919-430(2). He justifies the decision with his claim that “The commission believe the American Medical Association is a well-respected organization...”
In asking you to overrule this denial I challenge the Commission’s “belief.” As few as one in seven American physicians belong to the AMA. I suspect that a substantial proportion of this association’s members are physicians involved in (and benefitting from) primarily administrative organizations like FSMA, state medical boards, specialty boards. AMA has arguably abandoned American patients and physicians to focus on selling life insurance policies and its publications, while deciding how much physicians should be paid for their services. I also suspect that many, if not all, members of MQAC belong to AMA. Of all the physicians I know only one admits to membership, and most harbor only contempt for the organization.
I argue that other national medical associations deserve equal advantage, even if members of MQAC do not belong to them. These include:
Perhaps even more importantly, however, Brantner’s weak endorsement of AMA leads me to question the competence of the membership of MQAC. In his letter Branter fails to tell us who respects the AMA or to offer any evidence that anyone respects AMA. Dr. Brantner does not even tell us that he or any other member of the commission respects the AMA. Regardless, the perception by MQAC that this dinosaur association is respected by anyone (other than those few who benefit from it) suggests that Dr. Brantner and other members of the Commission are out of touch with the realities of medicine in America today, raising serious questions about their ability to perform their duties for the people of the State of Washington. It is inappropriate, perhaps even unethical, for the Commission to align itself politically with AMA over other physician organizations. It also suggests that Commission members’ alliances may interfere with their ability to objectively carry out their duties to the State of Washington.