A reporter at the AMA annual meeting informs me that the House of Delegates has adopted a resolution with the adorable title of “Individual Responsibility to Obtain Health Insurance.” An early draft [.doc] of the resolution (prepared by the AMA’s Council on Medical Service, and which may have been modified before passage) recommends this change to AMA policy:
That our American Medical Association support a requirement to purchase a minimum of catastrophic and preventive health insurance coverage for individuals and families earning greater than 500% of the federal poverty level, with substantial tax penalties for noncompliance.
Once sufficient government subsidies are put in place, the resolution calls for slapping everyone with an individual mandate and “substantial tax penalties for noncompliance.”
As I wrote earlier, the AMA has a long history of using state power to restrict consumer freedom when that freedom might threaten its members’ incomes. Yes, the AMA used to oppose tax-and-mandate schemes. But ”in light of shifting public opinion in favor of requiring some individuals to purchase coverage” the AMA now supports requiring consumers to purchase a product that — wait for it — increases the quantity of physician services that consumers demand.
The Council’s reasoning also includes this gem:
In considering an individual requirement for health insurance, the Council believes that at some point incomes rise to a threshold where personal responsibility should be required…
Hmm. And when incomes rise even higher, say to physician-like levels, what should be required then?
In September, Cato will publish a book by professor of law and medicine David Hyman that catalogues the damage done by physicians’ last deal with the devil.