Following AMA delegates' final vote today against a plan to restructure the organization, the AMA's incoming chairman say it's time to stop years of debate on reorganization and start paying more attention to the dwindling membership.
William G. Plested, M.D., who also headed the reorganization study, says there have been years of AMA blue-ribbon committees to consider various forms of reorganization, and now, "we've all put that to rest."
"We've made a giant change in getting off this idea that we need a structural change," says Plested, speaking after the delegates' vote at the AMA meeting in Chicago this week.
The restructuring group, known as the organization of organizations, represented state and specialty societies. It was charged with exploring the idea of eliminating AMA membership and making up for lost dues income by reducing AMA functions and receiving funds from the societies.
But in polling of "org of orgs" members over the past few months, it became clear that societies did not want to commit sufficient funds to the AMA and had concerns about the implications of the proposed structure on the societies' non-profit tax status and fundraising.
AMA board member James Rohack, M.D., says a flaw in asking for society contributions was assuming "the organizations print money. They don't."
In a report to AMA delegates, the committee recommended against any structural change, which the house accepted.
The committee also recommended some sweeping changes of the AMA House, such as reducing its size and requiring items to be passed by a "supermajority," perhaps two-thirds of the delegates. But the house rejected those changes today.
Now that the AMA will continue as a membership organization, Plested concedes that it must wrestle with the membership drop.
"It's a difficult problem and we haven't found a solution," he says.