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)[1]
FocusOpposes abortion, opposes Medicare and Medicaid, opposes universal health care, opposes government involvement in health care, and publishes a journal[1]
HeadquartersTucson, Arizona, United States[1]
Melinda Woofter[2]
Jane M. Orient[1]
Revenue (2015)
Expenses (2015)$871,214[1]
Employees (2014)
Volunteers (2014)

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."[3][4] The group was reported to have about 4,000 members in 2005, and 5,000 in 2014.[5][6][7] The executive director is Jane Orient, an internist and a member of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.[1] AAPS also publishes the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (formerly known as the Medical Sentinel).

The association is generally recognized as politically conservative or ultra-conservative, and its publication advocates 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.


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.[4] In 1944, Time reported that the group's aim was the "defeat of any Government group medicine."[4] 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.[8]

In 2002, AAPS said that its members included Ron Paul and John Cooksey.[9] Ron Paul's son, Rand Paul, was a member for over two decades until his election to the U.S. Senate.[10]


While AAPS describes itself as "non-partisan",[11] the organization is generally recognized as politically conservative or ultra-conservative.[8][12][13] The AAPS opposed the Social Security Act of 1965 which established Medicare and Medicaid, arguing that "the effect of the law is evil and participation in carrying out its provisions is, in our opinion, immoral",[14] and encouraged member physicians to boycott Medicare and Medicaid.[15] AAPS argues that individuals should purchase medical care directly from doctors, and that there is no right to medical care.[16] 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.[17]

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 driven by the pharmaceutical industry.[18] AAPS also opposes abortion[19] and over-the-counter access to emergency contraception.[20] AAPS also opposes electronic medical records[17] as well as any "direct or de facto supervision or control over the practice of medicine by federal officers or employees."[21]

On October 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.[22][23]

Political and legal activism[edit]

Gun control[edit]

AAPS's position is that there is no evidence, from a medical stand point, to support gun control.[24]

Social Security[edit]

In 1975, AAPS went to court to block enforcement of a new Social Security amendment that would monitor the treatment given to Medicare and Medicaid patients.[25]

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 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.[26] 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.[27] AAPS also opposed the Obama Administration's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and on March 26, 2010 AAPS filed suit to invalidate the new health care bill.[28]

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.[29] (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.)

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."[30][31]

Other cases[edit]

In 2006 the group criticized what it called sham peer review, claiming it was a device used to punish whistleblowers.[32] 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.[33] Hurwitz was granted a retrial in 2006, and his 25-year prison sentence was reduced to 4 years and 9 months.[34]

Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons[edit]

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPandS), until 2003 named the Medical Sentinel,[35][36] 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.[37]

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 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 political and scientific viewpoints advocated by AAPS are not held by mainstream scientists and other medical groups.[3] The U.S. National Library of Medicine declined repeated requests from AAPS to index the journal, citing unspecified concerns.[3] As of September 2016, JPandS was listed on Beall's list of potential or probable predatory open-access journals.[38] Quackwatch lists JPandS as an untrustworthy, non-recommended periodical.[39] An editorial in Chemical & Engineering News described JPandS as a "purveyor of utter nonsense."[40] 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."[41] 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."[42]

Advocacy 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,[3] including:

A series of articles by pro-life authors published in the journal argued for a link between abortion and breast cancer.[48][49] Such a link has been rejected by the scientific community, including the U.S. National Cancer Institute,[50] the American Cancer Society,[51] and the World Health Organization,[52] among other major medical bodies.[53]

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[54] and the American Academy of Pediatrics.[55] 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."[56]

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

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."[59] 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.[59] The journal's leprosy claim was cited and repeated by Lou Dobbs as evidence of the dangers of illegal immigration.[56][60]

Publicly available statistics show that the 7,000 cases of leprosy occurred during the past 30 years, not the past three as Cosman claimed.[61] 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."[60] 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."[56] The article's erroneous leprosy claim was pointed out by 60 Minutes,[62] National Public Radio,[56] and The New York Times[60] but has not been corrected by the Journal.[59]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Guidestar. October 31, 2015.
  2. ^ "President's Page Archived September 13, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.". Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. September 8, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e 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.
  4. ^ a b c "Portent". Time. 1944-05-08. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  5. ^ Pinsker, Beth (2005-08-07). "'I don't take insurance' not always a doctor deal breaker". Reuters. Retrieved 2014-08-20.
  6. ^ Pinsker, Beth (2005-08-07). "What It Really Means When Your Doctor Says He Doesn't Take Insurance". TIME magazine. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  7. ^ Chu, Jeff (2005-08-07). "Doctors Who Hurt Doctors". TIME magazine. Archived from the original on February 16, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  8. ^ a b "New Power in A.M.A.; Milford Owen Rouse". The New York Times. June 30, 1966. Retrieved March 16, 2007.
  9. ^ AAPS (October 2002). "Volume 58, No. 10 October 2002". Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  10. ^ a b c Jeremy Peters; Barry Meier (2015-02-05). "Rand Paul Is Linked to Doctors' Group That Supports Vaccination Challenges". The New York Times.
  11. ^ "Membership Information". AAPS. Archived from the original on August 28, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-01.
  12. ^ Hall, Mimi (2002-07-22). "Many states reject bioterrorism law". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
  13. ^ "Progress Report". Time Magazine. 1967-06-30. " ultra-conservative political-action group"
  14. ^ "Principles of the AAPS". Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Archived from the original on March 10, 2007. Retrieved March 10, 2007.
  15. ^ "Medicare Boycott Urged for Doctors". The New York Times. August 5, 1965. Retrieved March 16, 2007.
  16. ^ "RESOLUTION 2001-1: Medical Care Is NOT a Right". Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Archived from the original on April 5, 2007. Retrieved March 10, 2007.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ The Standard of Care, from the AAPS website. Retrieved March 10, 2007.
  19. ^ Resolution passed by the Assembly – Affirming the Sanctity of Human Life, from the AAPS website. Retrieved March 12, 2007.
  20. ^ Comments re: Docket No. 2005N-0345, RIN 0910-AF72, from the AAPS website. Retrieved March 12, 2007.
  21. ^ "Model Resolutions". Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  22. ^ "Oratory—or hypnotic induction?". 2008-10-25. Archived from the original on October 23, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  23. ^ Mnookin, Seth (2012). The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear. Simon & Schuster. p. 210. ISBN 978-1439158654.
  24. ^ "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 2010-10-21.
  25. ^ "Review for Doctors". TIME magazine. 1975-12-01. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  26. ^ Pear, Robert (December 19, 1997). "Judge Rules Government Covered Up Lies on Panel". The New York Times. Retrieved January 3, 2008.
  27. ^ Lewis, Neil (August 25, 1999). "Court Clears Clinton Aide In Lying Case". The New York Times. Retrieved January 3, 2008.
  28. ^
  29. ^ Peters, Sally (November 1, 2001). "Physicians Sue to Block HIPAA Privacy Rule. (Texas OB.GYN. A Coplaintiff)". OB GYN News.
  30. ^ 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.)
  31. ^ "Doctors Group: Limbaugh Medical Records Seizure Unlawful". 2004-02-22. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  32. ^ Lawrence R. Huntoon (May 9, 2006). "Sham Peer Review: A National Epidemic". Archived from the original on April 5, 2007. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
  33. ^ Roosevelt, Margot (2005-07-18). "Why Is The DEA Hounding This Doctor?". TIME magazine. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  34. ^ Washington Post story, July 14, 2007.
  35. ^ "Major Changes to AAPS Peer-Reviewed Journal". AAPS website. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  36. ^ "Medical Sentinel". Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  37. ^ "Manuscript information for authors" (PDF). JPandS website. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 21, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  38. ^ Lapowsky, Issie (2016-09-23). "The Rogue Doctors Spreading Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories about Clinton's Health". WIRED. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  39. ^ Barrett, S. "Nonrecommended Periodicals". Quackwatch. Archived from the original on March 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
  40. ^ Baum, Rudy (June 2008). "Defending Science". Chemical & Engineering News. 86 (23): 5. doi:10.1021/cen-v086n023.p005.
  41. ^ "Bitter Heather Mills defends credibility as Wakefield anti-MMR campaign crumbles". Archived from the original on February 4, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  42. ^ Goldacre, Ben (November 1, 2005). "The MMR sceptic who just doesn't understand science". The Guardian.
  43. ^ 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.
  44. ^ 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.
  45. ^ 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.
  46. ^ 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.
  47. ^ Gerth, Joe (2010-09-25). "From the archives: Paul in group with offbeat views". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  48. ^ 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.
  49. ^ 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.
  50. ^ "Abortion, Miscarriage, and Breast Cancer Risk". National Cancer Institute. Archived from the original on March 9, 2007. Retrieved March 11, 2007.
  51. ^ "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.
  52. ^ "WHO – Induced abortion does not increase breast cancer risk". Archived from the original on January 13, 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
  53. ^ 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.
  54. ^ "Position of the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety regarding concerns raised by paper about the safety of thiomersal-containing vaccines". WHO. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  55. ^ "Study Fails to Show a Connection Between Thimerosal and Autism". American Academy of Pediatrics. 2003-05-16. Archived from the original on April 20, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
  56. ^ 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.
  57. ^ 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.
  58. ^ Conspiracy --- Part III, by Curtis W. Caine, MD. Published in Medical Sentinel, 1999;4(6) 224.
  59. ^ 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).
  60. ^ 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.
  61. ^ 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
  62. ^ Lou Dobbs' Opinion, from 60 Minutes. Originally broadcast on May 17, 2007; accessed August 29, 2008.

External links[edit]