Along the way, the AMA wants to rid the market of state-mandated benefits, also high on the insurers’ wish list. “Appropriate regulations and fewer benefit mandates would permit market experimentation to find the most attractive combinations of plan benefits,” the docs say. No self-respecting insurance carrier would disagree. It opposes letting people between age fifty-five and sixty-four buy into Medicare, even temporarily. The AMA has a proposal for the youngsters, too. It suggests that the government offer tax credits or vouchers to parents of kids enrolled in SCHIP, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, to make it easier to buy health coverage in the private market. In other words, it wants to begin eroding government coverage for poor kids.

The AMA doesn’t care for a public insurance option, either. Here’s what the doctors say:

The introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans. A crowd-out of private insurers and the corresponding surge in public plan participation would likely lead to an explosion of costs that would need to be absorbed by taxpayers.

There you have it—is this the same old AMA opposing anything that even remotely looks, smells, or quacks like an entrée to national health insurance? Is it 1948 all over again? Health care journalists should make it their business to find out.

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.