Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
|Type||Political advocacy group|
|Headquarters||Tucson, Arizona, United States|
|Focus||Opposes abortion, Medicare/Medicaid, universal health care, and government involvement in health care; publishes the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons|
|Motto||omnia pro aegroto ("All for the patient")|
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a politically conservative non-profit association founded in 1943 to "fight socialized medicine and to fight the government takeover of medicine." The group was reported to have approximately 4,000 members in 2005, and 3,000 in 2011. Notable members include Ron Paul and John Cooksey; the executive director is Jane Orient, a member of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.
The AAPS motto, "omnia pro aegroto" is Latin for "all for the patient." AAPS also publishes the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (formerly known as the Medical Sentinel). The Journal is not indexed by mainstream scientific databases such as the Web of Science or MEDLINE. The quality and scientific validity of articles published in the Journal has been criticized by others. Many of the political and scientific viewpoints advocated by AAPS are considered extreme or dubious by other medical groups.
During the winter of 1943, the Lake County (Indiana) Medical Committee opposed the Wagner-Murray-Dingell Bill, proposed legislation that would provide government health care for most U.S. citizens. Also opposed to the bill was the conservative National Physicians Committee. The committee began a membership drive in February 1944. By May 1944, the AAPS claimed members from all 48 states. In 1944, Time reported that the group's aim was the "defeat of any Government group medicine." In 1966, the New York Times described AAPS as an "ultra-right-wing... political-economic rather than a medical group," and noted that some of its leaders were members of the John Birch Society.
While it describes itself as "non-partisan", AAPS is generally recognized as politically conservative. According to Mother Jones, "despite the lab coats and the official-sounding name, the docs of the AAPS are hardly part of mainstream medical society. Think Glenn Beck with an MD."
The organization opposes mandatory vaccination, universal health care and government intervention in healthcare. The AAPS has characterized the effects of the Social Security Act of 1965, which established Medicare and Medicaid, as "evil" and "immoral", and encouraged member physicians to boycott Medicare and Medicaid. AAPS argues that individuals should purchase medical care directly from doctors, and that there is no right to medical care. The organization requires its members to sign a "declaration of independence" pledging that they will not work with Medicare, Medicaid, or even private insurance companies.
AAPS opposes mandated evidence-based medicine and practice guidelines, criticizing them as a usurpation of physician autonomy and a fascist merger of state and corporate power where the biggest stakeholder is the pharmaceutical industry. Other procedures that AAPS opposes include abortion and over-the-counter access to emergency contraception. AAPS also opposes electronic medical records as well as any "direct or de facto supervision or control over the practice of medicine by federal officers or employees."
On Oct 25, 2008 the AAPS website published an editorial implying that Barack Obama was using Neuro-linguistic Programming, "a covert form of hypnosis", to coerce people to vote for him in his 2008 presidential campaign.
Political activity 
Gun control 
In 1996, Dr Miguel A. Faria, Jr., a retired neurosurgeon and former Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) at Mercer University School of Medicine as well as founding editor of Medical Sentinel, the AAPS's journal, was involved in a gun control debate regarding the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). Faria and other critics felt the NCIPC's program on gun violence was biased against gun owners, and was part of a 'public health' political strategy by gun control advocates. They testified before a US House Subcommittee on Appropriations to that effect. Faria wanted to defund the NCIPC entirely. The CDC was forbidden by Congress to use taxpayers' money for gun control research and from participating in lobbying activities.
Faria left AAPS in 2002 to pursue other interests. He was subsequently appointed by the administration of President George W. Bush to oversee the NCIPC as member of the grant review committee of the CDC, which he did until 2005. He is the World Affairs editor of Surgical Neurology International. Dr. Jane Orient remains the Executive Director of AAPS.
Legal activity 
AAPS v. Hillary Clinton
With several other groups, AAPS filed a lawsuit in 1993 against Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala over closed-door meetings related to the 1993 Clinton health care plan. The AAPS sued to gain access to the list of members of President Clinton's health care taskforce. Judge Royce C. Lamberth found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded $285,864 to the AAPS for legal costs; Lamberth also harshly criticized the Clinton administration and Clinton aide Ira Magaziner in his ruling. Subsequently, a federal appeals court overturned the award and the initial findings on the basis that Magaziner and the administration had not acted in bad faith.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act 
The AAPS was involved in litigation against Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), arguing that it violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution by allowing government access to certain medical data without a warrant. (Title II of HIPAA, known as the Administrative Simplification (AS) provisions, requires the establishment of national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers, and is intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the US's health care system by encouraging the widespread use of electronic data interchange in the health care system.)
Seizure of Rush Limbaugh's medical records 
In 2004, AAPS filed a brief on behalf of conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh in Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal, opposing the seizure of his medical files in an investigation of drug charges for Limbaugh's alleged misuse of prescription drugs. The AAPS stated the seizure was a violation of state law and that 'It is not a crime for a patient to be in pain and repeatedly seek relief, and doctors should not be turned against patients they tried to help.'"
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)
On March 26, 2010 AAPS filed suit to invalidate the new health care bill.
Other cases 
In 2006 the group criticised what it called sham peer review, claiming it was a device used to punish whistleblowers. The next year, AAPS helped appeal the conviction of Virginia internist William Hurwitz, who was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for prescribing excessive quantities of narcotic drugs after 16 former patients testified against him. Hurwitz was granted a retrial in 2006, and his 25-year prison sentence was reduced to 4 years and 9 months.
Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 
The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPandS), until 2003 named the Medical Sentinel, is the journal of the association. Its mission statement includes "… a commitment to publishing scholarly articles in defense of the practice of private medicine, the pursuit of integrity in medical research … Political correctness, dogmatism and orthodoxy will be challenged with logical reasoning, valid data and the scientific method." The publication policy of the journal states that articles are subject to a double-blind peer-review process.
The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is not listed in major academic literature databases such as MEDLINE/PubMed nor the Web of Science. The U.S. National Library of Medicine declined repeated requests from AAPS to index the journal, citing unspecified concerns. Articles and commentaries published in the journal have argued a number of non-mainstream or scientifically discredited claims, including:
- that human activity has not contributed to climate change, and that global warming will be beneficial and thus not a cause for concern;
- that HIV does not cause AIDS;
- that the "gay male lifestyle" shortens life expectancy by 20 years.
A series of articles by pro-life authors published in the journal argued for a link between abortion and breast cancer. Such a link has been rejected by the scientific community, including the U.S. National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the World Health Organization, among other major medical bodies.
A 2003 paper published in the journal, claiming that vaccination was harmful, was criticized for poor methodology, lack of scientific rigor, and outright errors by the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics. A National Public Radio piece mentioned inaccurate information published in the Journal and said: "The journal itself is not considered a leading publication, as it's put out by an advocacy group that opposes most government involvement in medical care."
The Journal has also published articles advocating politically and socially conservative policy positions, including:
- that the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are unconstitutional;
- that "humanists" have conspired to replace the "creation religion of Jehovah" with evolution;
- that "anchor babies" are valuable to undocumented immigrants, particularly if the babies are disabled.
Quackwatch lists JPandS as an untrustworthy, non-recommended periodical. An editorial in Chemical & Engineering News described JPandS as a "purveyor of utter nonsense." Investigative journalist Brian Deer wrote that the journal is the "house magazine of a right-wing American fringe group [AAPS]" and "is barely credible as an independent forum."
Leprosy error 
In a 2005 article published in the Journal, Madeleine Cosman argued that illegal immigrants were carriers of disease, and that immigrants and "anchor babies" were launching a "stealthy assault on [American] medicine." In the article, Cosman claimed that "Suddenly, in the past 3 years America has more than 7,000 cases of leprosy" because of illegal aliens. The journal's leprosy claim was cited and repeated by Lou Dobbs as evidence of the dangers of illegal immigration.
However, publicly available statistics show that the 7,000 cases of leprosy occurred during the past 30 years, not the past three as Cosman claimed. James L. Krahenbuhl, director of the U.S. government's leprosy program, stated that there had been no significant increase in leprosy cases, and that "It [leprosy] is not a public health problem—that’s the bottom line." National Public Radio reported that the Journal article "had footnotes that did not readily support allegations linking a recent rise in leprosy rates to illegal immigrants." The article's erroneous leprosy claim was pointed out by 60 Minutes, National Public Radio, and the New York Times but has not been corrected by the Journal.
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