AMA wres­tles with re­form fall­out

... mem­ber­ship de­clines, mar­gin lags ’07: re­port

Modern Healthcare - - Front Page - Andis Robeznieks

A s the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion pre­pares for its an­nual meet­ing next month in Chicago, its re­cently re­leased 2009 an­nual re­port paints a fairly op­ti­mistic pic­ture for the 163-year-old or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The AMA ex­pe­ri­enced a rel­a­tively strong fi­nan­cial re­bound de­spite a loss in rev­enue and a con­tin­ued de­cline in mem­ber­ship, which some say was caused in part by the as­so­ci­a­tion’s sup­port of health­care re­form.

For the 10th-straight year, the AMA op­er­ated in the black and, more sig­nif­i­cantly, its $16.5 mil­lion profit mar­gin was more than six times the $2.5 mil­lion it made in 2008. But, to put things in per­spec­tive, the 2009 fig­ure is still 32.4% lower than the $24.4 mil­lion it made in 2007 and 45.5% lower than the $30.3 mil­lion it made in 2006.

It should also be noted that the profit was due to, in large part, spend­ing cuts. Rev­enue was down by $13.4 mil­lion as pub­lish­ing op­er­a­tions saw a $7.7 mil­lion de­cline in ad­ver­tis­ing and money from mem­ber­ship dues was $1.7 mil­lion less than the year be­fore.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, mem­ber­ship de­clined al­most 3.4% to 228,000 from the 236,000 re­ported the pre­vi­ous year—which it­self was about a 2% de­cline from the 241,000 re­ported for 2007. (The 2007 mem­ber­ship fig­ure is no­table in that it marked the first time in seven years that mem­ber­ship in­creased, to 241,000 from al­most 239,000 for about a 1% jump. But that boost was achieved by a giv­ing away 8,577 free mem­ber­ships for first-year res­i­dents who had been stu­dent mem­bers the pre­vi­ous year.)

Mem­ber­ship dues ac­count for about 16% of AMA rev­enue, the re­port stated, and the $42.2 mil­lion col­lected in 2009 was al­most 3.9% lower than the $43.9 mil­lion col­lected in 2008.

“The slight dip in the AMA’s 2009 mem­ber­ship is con­sis­tent with re­cent an­nual trends,” ac­cord­ing to an e-mail state­ment from the AMA, at­trib­uted to board mem­ber Robert Wah. “We are com­mit­ted to in­creas­ing the AMA’s value to physi­cians, es­pe­cially in the

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