The American Medical Association has signed pact with Congress “agreeing” as follows:

*The parties will develop a total of 140 quality measures covering 34 clinical areas.

*Doctors will voluntarily report on at least 3 to 5 quality measures per physician by 2007.

*Doctors should receive additional reimbursement to cover administrative costs.

The “agreement” was “signed” by Duane Cady, M.D., Chairman of the AMA, and three Republican members of Congress, i.e., Senator Grassley (Iowa) and Representatives Thomas (California) and Deal (Georgia).

Medical specialty societies were quick to criticize this secret deal, which is really not an agreement at all. In a letter signed by 10 different physician groups, other physician leaders stated:

“We are dismayed that an agreement was reached on issues that are critical to the future of our specialties and our patients without our participation or knowledge. The American Medical Association cannot be the sole representative for the groups who are paramount to the development and implementation of quality measures.” New York Times, February 21, 2006.

Having not seen this “agreement,” it is difficult to offer any opinions regarding its merits. However, three individuals, congressmen or not, have no authority to act on behalf of either Congress or CMS, and the Chairman of the AMA has no authority to bind individual physicians, regardless of their AMA membership status.