More than 200 protesters, charging that the American Medical Association is insensitive to the needs of the elderly, demonstrated yesterday inside the Marriott Hotel at 22nd and M streets NW, where the AMA was holding a conference.
The protest, organized by a Chicago-based group called National People's Action, lasted for about an hour, AMA officials said. It started when the demonstrators filled a foyer on the hotel's second floor, outside the conference room where the AMA officials were meeting, and demanded entry to the conference, AMA officials said.
The AMA refused to allow the protesters into its meeting, AMA officials said, and the protesters left after D.C. police arrived on the scene.
The group has organized a number of protests against the AMA across the country, including rallies outside the homes of AMA officials, according to AMA spokesmen.
National People's Action has demanded that the AMA set up a program to study geriatric care and to require AMA members to treat patients whose care is paid for under the federal Medicare program, according to Ina Yourkiewicz, of suburban Cleveland, an official of the group.
"They've been very unfair to us," she said of the AMA. "They're not responsive to the ordinary people." Other spokesmen for National People's Action said activists with the group have demonstrated around the country against high energy and housing costs.
The AMA is holding a two-day meeting of medical officials from around the country on new federal rules that set up a new formula for federal Medicare payments to hospitals: Instead of paying the amount it costs to care for a Medicare patient, the government will pay according to the disease treated.
The protest did not focus on the new payment plan, to begin next month.