Almost all of the members of Congress who have cosponsored legislation to curb the Federal Trade Commission's authority to regulate doctors and other professionals have been among the recipients of more than $1 million in campaign contributions from three medical associations over the past 2 1/2 years.
According to a new study by Public Citizen's Congress Watch, 192 of the 196 members of the House of Representatives who cosponsored the legislation received a total of $1.14 million from the American Medical Association, the American Dental Association and the American Optometric Assocation between January 1979 and April 1982.
The largest amount of money--$841,416--came from the AMA. "The doctors would not be giving this amount of money if they thought they were getting nothing for it," charged Jay Angoff, an attorney with Congress Watch.
AMA officials, however, immediately disputed that charge and called it a "disservice" to members of Congress to link their actions with campaign contributions. "The political action committee money is given to candidates far in advance of any knowledge of legislative issues, and considerations do not include commitments to special topics," said the AMA's executive vice president, James H. Sammons.
Last month the Senate Commerce Committee overwhelmingly approved legislation that would bar the FTC from regulating state-regulated professional groups such as the AMA and ADA. Such a ban would stop the FTC from cracking down on illegal price-fixing activities, boycotts, and false advertising--areas where the commission has been extremely active during the past decade.