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Doctors Must Unify on Health Care Reform, AMA Head Says

December 7, 1992

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Physicians must approve a plan to overhaul national health care or risk being left out of the reform process, the American Medical Association president said Sunday.

″We must emerge with a unified plan to approach the government and the legislators,″ John L. Clowe said as the association’s policy-making body, the House of Delegates, began its four-day semiannual meeting.

″If we do not, believe me the discord will reverberate all the way to Washington, D.C. And our profession and our patients will be the ones who will be hurt the most.″

At the top of the delegates’ agenda is health care reform, an issue that figured prominently in the presidential campaign. Also high on the list is physician ethics, Clowe said.

The AMA and Air Force Reserve announced a medical ethics education program that includes four videocassettes and printed material that will be made available to the nation’s 127 medical schools early next year.

The ethics of doctor-assisted suicide was discussed Saturday by a panel whose members included a lawyer for Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a retired Michigan pathologist who has helped six patients kill themselves.

″We do not agree with Dr. Kevorkian,″ Clowe said. ″We’re involved in keeping people alive, not helping them die.″

Among resolutions delegates will consider:

- Asking Congress to ban beer commercials on television to stop an ″epidemic of teen-age drinking resulting in suicides, sexual assaults and auto accidents.″

- A report questioning the effectiveness of auto and truck air bags for accidents other than front-end collisions. The report asks automakers to improve active and passive passenger restraints and strengthen the passenger compartment.

- Encouraging patients to donate their own blood before elective surgery to cut the risk of hepatitis and AIDS.

- Recommending a national registry bank for evaluation of silicone breast implants. The report recommends doctors make full disclosure of the devices’ safety.

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