The Chicago-based American Medical Association has formally approved a new policy opposing the extension of an 18-month moratorium on specialty hospitals.
The AMA's House of Delegates, gathered in Atlanta for a mid-year advocacy meeting, on Tuesday approved a policy that "supports and encourages competition between healthcare facilities as a means of promoting the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective healthcare."
The AMA is the first big national medical association to take a formal stand on an issue that has created deep divisions between physicians and hospitals, following similar action last month by the California Medical Association.
The new policy pits the AMA against the American Hospital Association, a longtime AMA ally in many doctor-related issues. Officials with the AHA are already gearing up a costly lobbying effort to persuade Congress to either extend or make permanent the moratorium, which is slated to expire June 7, 2005.
In other action, AMA delegates asked the organization's board of trustees to continue studying another controversial topic -- liability surcharges designed to defray the skyrocketing costs of malpractice insurance. The board, which endorsed the practice in a recent report, is expected to bring the matter up again at the AMA's annual meeting in June, officials said.