Association of American Physicians and Surgeons

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Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
AAPS logo.jpg
FoundedMay 1944
TypePolitical advocacy group
Legal status501(c)(6)
FocusOpposes abortion, opposes Medicare and Medicaid, opposes universal health care, and opposes government involvement in health care
HeadquartersTucson, Arizona, United States
Melinda Woofter
Jane M. Orient
Revenue (2015)
Expenses (2015)$871,214
Employees (2014)
Volunteers (2014)

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a conservative non-profit association founded in 1943. The group was reported to have about 5,000 members in 2014. The association has promoted a range of scientifically discredited hypotheses, including the belief that HIV does not cause AIDS, that being gay reduces life expectancy, that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer, and that there is a causal relationship between vaccines and autism. It is opposed to the Affordable Care Act and other forms of universal health insurance.


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.[1] In 1944, Time reported that the group's aim was the "defeat of any Government group medicine."[1]

In 1966, The New York Times described AAPS as an "ultra-right-wing... political-economic rather than a medical group," and said some of its leaders were members of the John Birch Society.[2]

In 2002, AAPS said that its members included Ron Paul and John Cooksey. Ron Paul's son, Rand Paul, was a member for over two decades until his election to the U.S. Senate.[3]

The group was reported to have about 4,000 members in 2005, and 5,000 in 2014.[4][5][6]

The executive director is Jane Orient, an internist and a member of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.


AAPS is generally recognized as politically conservative or ultra-conservative,[2][7] and its positions are unorthodox and at wide variance with federal health policy.[8]

The Washington Post summarized their beliefs in February 2017 as "doctors should be autonomous in treating their patients — with far fewer government rules, medical quality standards, insurance coverage limits and legal penalties when they make mistakes".[8] It opposed the Social Security Act of 1965 which established Medicare and Medicaid and encouraged member physicians to boycott Medicare and Medicaid.[9] 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.[10]

AAPS opposes mandated evidence-based medicine and practice guidelines, opposes abortion and over-the-counter access to emergency contraception and opposes electronic medical records.[10]

Political and legal activism[edit]

Gun control[edit]

The AAPS opposes gun control and does not recognize handgun violence as a public health problem. Instead, the AAPS insists that handguns save lives, and that gun research sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is politically motivated "junk science".[11][12][13][14]

Social Security[edit]

AAPS went to court to block enforcement of a Social Security amendment that would monitor the treatment given to Medicare and Medicaid patients; in November 1975 the Supreme Court let stand a lower-court decision upholding the Social Security legislation.[15]

Opposition to health-care reform[edit]

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 Bill Clinton's health care taskforce. Judge Royce C. Lamberth initially 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.[16] 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.[17]

The AAPS was involved in litigation in 2001 against the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), arguing that it violated the Fourth Amendment by allowing government access to certain medical data without a warrant.[18] (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.)

An AAPS lawsuit opposing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and seeking to invalidate it, was dismissed in March 2014 for lack of standing and failure to state a valid cause of action.[19][20]

Opposition to investigation of Rush Limbaugh's drug charges[edit]

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."[21]

Other cases[edit]

In 2007, AAPS assisted in the appeal against 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.[22] Hurwitz was granted a retrial in 2006, and his 25-year prison sentence was reduced to 4 years and 9 months.[23]

Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons[edit]

Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons  
Publication details
Former name(s)
Medical Sentinel
Association of American Physicians and Surgeon
Standard abbreviations
ISO 4J. Am. Physicians Surg.

The association's Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPandS), from 1996 to 2003 named the Medical Sentinel, is not listed in academic literature databases such as MEDLINE/PubMed or the Web of Science. The quality and scientific validity of articles published in the journal have been criticized by medical experts, and some of the viewpoints advocated by AAPS are rejected by mainstream scientists and other medical groups.[24] The U.S. National Library of Medicine declined repeated requests from AAPS to index the journal, citing unspecified concerns.[24]

As of September 2016, JPandS was listed on Beall's list of potential or probable predatory open-access journals.[25] Quackwatch lists JPandS as an untrustworthy, non-recommended periodical.[26] An editorial in Chemical & Engineering News described the journal as a "purveyor of utter nonsense."[27] 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."[28] Writing in The Guardian, science columnist Ben Goldacre described the journal as the "in-house magazine of a rightwing US pressure group well known for polemics on homosexuality, abortion and vaccines."[29]

Publishing of non-mainstream or scientifically discredited claims[edit]

Articles and commentaries published in the journal have argued a number of non-mainstream or scientifically discredited claims,[24] including:

A series of articles by anti-abortion authors published in the journal argued for a link between abortion and breast cancer.[35][36] Such a link has been rejected by the scientific community, including the U.S. National Cancer Institute,[37] the American Cancer Society,[38] and the World Health Organization,[39] among other major medical bodies.[40]

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[41] and the American Academy of Pediatrics.[42] 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."[43]

The journal has also published articles advocating politically and socially conservative policy positions, including:

The organization published on its website an article claiming that Obama hypnotized audiences with his speeches, using "extra slow speech, rhythm, tonalities, vagueness, visual imagery, metaphor, and raising of emotion." The "O" in Obama's logo was compared to a crystal ball used as a "point of visual fixation".[34]

Leprosy error[edit]

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."[46] 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.[46] The journal's leprosy claim was cited and repeated by Lou Dobbs as evidence of the dangers of illegal immigration.[43][47]

Publicly available statistics show that the 7,000 cases of leprosy occurred during the past 30 years, not the past three as Cosman claimed.[48] 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."[47] 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."[43] The article's erroneous leprosy claim was pointed out by 60 Minutes,[49] National Public Radio,[43] and The New York Times.[47] As of 2020, the article remains on the journal's website without having been corrected.[46]


  1. ^ a b "Portent". Time Magazine. Time. May 8, 1944. Archived from the original on August 26, 2013. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
  2. ^ a b "New Power in A.M.A.; Milford Owen Rouse". The New York Times. June 30, 1966. Retrieved March 16, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c Jeremy Peters; Barry Meier (February 5, 2015). "Rand Paul Is Linked to Doctors' Group That Supports Vaccination Challenges". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Pinsker, Beth (August 20, 2014). "'I don't take insurance' not always a doctor deal breaker". Reuters. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  5. ^ Pinsker, Beth (August 7, 2005). "What It Really Means When Your Doctor Says He Doesn't Take Insurance". TIME magazine. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
  6. ^ Chu, Jeff (August 7, 2005). "Doctors Who Hurt Doctors". TIME magazine. Archived from the original on February 16, 2007. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
  7. ^ Hall, Mimi (July 22, 2002). "Many states reject bioterrorism law". USA Today. Retrieved August 22, 2008.
  8. ^ a b Goldstein, Amy (February 9, 2017). "Tom Price belongs to a doctors group with unorthodox views on government and health care". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  9. ^ "Medicare Boycott Urged for Doctors". The New York Times. August 5, 1965. Retrieved March 16, 2007.
  10. ^ a b Mencimer, Stephanie (November 18, 2009). "The Tea Party's Favorite Doctors". Mother Jones. Archived from the original on November 21, 2009. Retrieved November 19, 2009.
  11. ^ Carter, Gregg Lee (2002). Guns in American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781576072684.
  12. ^ "Research Fails to Support Gun Control Agenda, According to Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons" (Press release). September 2013. Archived from the original on October 21, 2013. Retrieved October 21, 2010.
  13. ^ "Doctors to Ask Patients About Gun Ownership". Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  14. ^ "Public Health and Gun Control --- A Review (Part I: The Benefits of Firearms)". Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  15. ^ "Review for Doctors". TIME magazine. December 1, 1975. Archived from the original on February 13, 2008. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
  16. ^ Pear, Robert (December 19, 1997). "Judge Rules Government Covered Up Lies on Panel". The New York Times. Retrieved January 3, 2008.
  17. ^ Lewis, Neil (August 25, 1999). "Court Clears Clinton Aide In Lying Case". The New York Times. Retrieved January 3, 2008.
  18. ^ Peters, Sally (November 1, 2001). "Physicians Sue to Block HIPAA Privacy Rule. (Texas OB.GYN. A Coplaintiff)". OB GYN News.
  19. ^ "FindLaw's United States DC Circuit case and opinions". Findlaw. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  20. ^ "District Of Columbia Appeals Panel Affirms Dismissal Of ACA Suit - ACA and Healthcare Reform Blog - ACA and Healthcare Reform - LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom". Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  21. ^ Conway, Erik M.; Oreskes, Naomi (2010). Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. p. 245. The journal, previously known as the Medical Sentinel, is the outlet of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which among other things filed a suit on behalf of Rush Limbaugh when his medical records were seized as a part of his prosecution on drug charges ... (Neither the Web of Science nor MEDLINE/PubMed lists the journal among its peer-reviewed scientific sources.)
  22. ^ Roosevelt, Margot (July 18, 2005). "Why Is The DEA Hounding This Doctor?". TIME magazine. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
  23. ^ Markon, Jerry (July 14, 2007). "Va. Pain Doctor's Prison Term Is Cut to 57 Months". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  24. ^ a b c d Meier, Barry (January 18, 2011). "Vocal Physicians Group Renews Health Law Fight". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 15, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  25. ^ Lapowsky, Issie (September 23, 2016). "The Rogue Doctors Spreading Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories about Clinton's Health". WIRED. Retrieved November 1, 2017.
  26. ^ Barrett, S. "Nonrecommended Periodicals". Quackwatch. Archived from the original on March 28, 2007. Retrieved February 12, 2007.
  27. ^ Baum, Rudy (June 2008). "Defending Science". Chemical & Engineering News. 86 (23): 5. doi:10.1021/cen-v086n023.p005.
  28. ^ "Bitter Heather Mills defends credibility as Wakefield anti-MMR campaign crumbles". Archived from the original on February 4, 2007. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
  29. ^ Goldacre, Ben (November 1, 2005). "The MMR sceptic who just doesn't understand science". The Guardian.
  30. ^ Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide by Arthur B. Robinson, Noah E. Robinson, and Willie Soon. Published in The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, 2007; 12(3), 79.
  31. ^ Lindzen, Richard S. (2013). "Science in the Public Square: Global Climate Alarmism and Historical Precedents" (PDF). Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. 18 (3): 70–73.
  32. ^ Questioning HIV/AIDS: Morally Reprehensible or Scientifically Warranted?, by Henry Bauer. Published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 2007: Vol 12, No. 4, p. 116.
  33. ^ Homosexuality: Some Neglected Considerations, by Nathaniel S. Lehrman, MD. Published in Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Volume 10, Number 3 (Fall 2005), pp. 80–82.
  34. ^ a b Gerth, Joe (September 25, 2010). "From the archives: Paul in group with offbeat views". USA TODAY. Retrieved November 1, 2017.
  35. ^ Malec, Karen (2003). "The Abortion-Breast Cancer Link: How Politics Trumped Science and Informed Consent" (PDF). Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. 8 (2): 41–45.
  36. ^ Brind, Joel (2005). "Induced Abortion as an Independent Risk Factor for Breast Cancer: A Critical Review of Recent Studies Based on Prospective Data" (PDF). Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. 10 (4): 105–110.
  37. ^ "Abortion, Miscarriage, and Breast Cancer Risk". National Cancer Institute. Archived from the original on March 9, 2007. Retrieved March 11, 2007.
  38. ^ "Can Having an Abortion Cause or Contribute to Breast Cancer?". American Cancer Society. Archived from the original on March 25, 2008. Retrieved March 31, 2008.
  39. ^ "WHO – Induced abortion does not increase breast cancer risk". Archived from the original on January 13, 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
  40. ^ Jasen P (2005). "Breast cancer and the politics of abortion in the United States". Med Hist. 49 (4): 423–44. doi:10.1017/S0025727300009145. PMC 1251638. PMID 16562329.
  41. ^ "Position of the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety regarding concerns raised by paper about the safety of thiomersal-containing vaccines". WHO. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
  42. ^ "Study Fails to Show a Connection Between Thimerosal and Autism". American Academy of Pediatrics. May 16, 2003. Archived from the original on April 20, 2008. Retrieved October 27, 2008.
  43. ^ a b c d Broken Borders? CBS Lambastes, Hires Dobbs, by David Folkenflik. From All Things Considered, National Public Radio, May 11, 2007. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  44. ^ The FDA and HCFA (Part II): Unconstitutional Regulatory Agencies Archived April 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, by James A. Albright, MD. Published in Medical Sentinel, 2000;5(6) 205–208.
  45. ^ Conspiracy --- Part III, by Curtis W. Caine, MD. Published in Medical Sentinel, 1999;4(6) 224.
  46. ^ a b c Illegal Aliens and American Medicine, by Madeleine Cosman. Published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Spring 2005 (Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 6–10).
  47. ^ a b c Truth, Fiction, and Lou Dobbs, by David Leonhardt. Published in The New York Times on May 30, 2007; accessed August 29, 2008.
  48. ^ New U.S. Reported Hansen's Disease (Leprosy) Cases by Year, 1979–2009, from the U.S. National Hansen's Disease (Leprosy) Program. Retrieved June 16, 2014
  49. ^ Lou Dobbs' Opinion, from 60 Minutes. Originally broadcast on May 17, 2007; accessed August 29, 2008.

External links[edit]