Following the June directive of its House of Delegates, the AMA is developing plans on how to reinvent itself as a forum financed by state and specialty societies instead of AMA membership dues.
AMA officials say their board, in a report due in June 2003, will list which societies to invite to a committee that determines the next steps.
Society leaders are talking about paying dues to the AMA of $50 for each of their members--a lot less than the AMA's full dues of $420. The hope is that membership through the societies could double AMA representation from its 2001 membership of 278,302.
John Tooker, M.D., executive vice president of the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, says the AMA will be under pressure to downsize its operations because his group "needs to have authority over how its money is being spent."
Richard Roberts, M.D., chairman of the board of the American Academy of Family Physicians, adds that societies should be allowed to opt out of the AMA if they are unhappy with the new strategy.
But Roberts says he strongly supports the new format because, as the number of full memberships in the AMA is falling, "I am worried that the AMA is in a death spiral."