AMA delegates meeting today appear ready to abandon a yearlong flirtation with the idea of a memberless organization, but now they have to find other ways to confront the association's ongoing membership slide.
Reviewing a special committee's final report on the proposal this morning, delegates had few objections to its conclusion that the AMA should remain a member organization with no basic change in structure, rather than turn it into an umbrella organization for state and specialty societies.
Later in the week during the AMA's annual meeting, delegates will vote on the proposal by the committee of the organization of organizations, which represents 137 AMA-affiliated societies.
The report also urged the AMA to reduce services in areas like public health and science activities and make some sweeping changes in governance of the House of Delegates.
Changes in the House would include reducing it size by an unspecified number; requiring a "supermajority," probably two-thirds of delegates, to pass proposals; and allowing delegates to vote only for their organizations, not as individual doctors.
"We did not end up where we thought we would when we started the process," Michael Williams, M.D., a member of the committee of the organization of organizations, told AMA delegates this morning.
When the committee first voted on the proposed change in secret sessions earlier this year, 75% of members voted for the new model, called the "org or orgs," or a variation of it retaining some individual membership, the report says.
But in a subsequent vote, support for the "org of orgs" model plummeted to just 6%, the report says. Then in another vote, almost 80% of delegates opted to stay with the current organizational framework, it adds.
The committee's change of heart came after delegates learned that the proposed "org of orgs" might imperil constituent societies' nonprofit status and limit doctors' campaign contributions to political action committees.
The specialty societies have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, which requires them to limit their advocacy activities, but that status might be jeopardized if they merged finances with the AMA, which as an advocacy group has a 501(c)(6) status, the report says.
Delegates to the committee were also concerned that the organizations' political action committees "would all be considered a single committee for purposes of the contribution limits." That would put a $5,000 limit on how much a doctor could five all the organizations in a year and a $5,000 limit on how much all the organizations could give one federal candidate in an election cycle.