AMA Votes to Continue Support for Individual Responsibility for Health Insurance

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The American Medical Association (AMA) has voted to continue its policy of supporting individual responsibility for health insurance with assistance for those who cannot afford it.

Prior to the vote at the AMA's annual meeting, members reviewed and evaluated alternatives to the individual mandate and described their findings in a report of the Council on Medical Services, entitled “Covering the Uninsured and Individual Responsibility.”

Contentiously debated on Sunday, the report reviews AMA policy and advocacy efforts on the subject and summarizes the history of requiring individual responsibility. Following the debate, the AMA’s House of Delegates issued:

  • A reaffirmation of its commitment to health system reforms, including health insurance coverage for all Americans, and to insurance market reforms that expand choice of affordable coverage as consistent with AMA policies concerning pluralism, freedom of choice, freedom of practice, and universal access for patients.
  • A reaffirmation of its policy of advocating that state governments be afforded the freedom to develop and test different models for covering the uninsured.
  • A recommendation that he report be filed and adopted in lieu of resolutions 102, 109, and 114.

Both reaffirmations quickly passed muster with the AMA’s House of Delegates. The last recommendation initiated a 40-minute debate on the House floor related to the nature of the three resolutions that were being rejected. Resolution 102 asked that the AMA continue to support policies that include personal responsibility to participate in private insurance risk-pooling arrangements, such as financial disincentives (penalties) on people who choose to forgo coverage until they are sick; Resolution 109, that it support the use of tax incentives and other noncompulsory measures to encourage the purchase of health insurance, rather than a federal mandate, and rescind the AMA's Individual Responsibility to Obtain Health Insurance Policy; and Resolution 114, that it reaffirm policies that provide for an individual insurance mandate, combined with sufficiently financed advance and refundable tax credits, as a fundamental part of market-based comprehensive health system reform.

—Julie Ritzer Ross