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." The group was reported to have approximately 4,000 members in 2005, and 5,000 in 2014. The executive director is Jane Orient, an internist and a member of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. The AAPS motto, "omnia pro aegroto" is Latin for "all for the patient." 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 are links between autism and vaccinations.
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. In 1944, Time reported that the group's aim was the "defeat of any Government group medicine." 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.
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.
While AAPS describes itself as "non-partisan", the organization is generally recognized as politically conservative or ultra-conservative. 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", and encouraged member physicians to boycott Medicare and Medicaid. AAPS argues that individuals should purchase medical care directly from doctors, and that there is no right to medical care. 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.
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. AAPS also opposes abortion and over-the-counter access to emergency contraception. AAPS also opposes electronic medical records as well as any "direct or de facto supervision or control over the practice of medicine by federal officers or employees."
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.
AAPS's position is that there is no evidence, from a medical stand point, to support gun control.
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.
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 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. 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. 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.
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. (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.)
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.'
In 2006 the group criticized what it called sham peer review, claiming it was a device used to punish whistleblowers. 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. Hurwitz was granted a retrial in 2006, and his 25-year prison sentence was reduced to 4 years and 9 months.
The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPandS), until 2003 named the Medical Sentinel, 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.
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. The U.S. National Library of Medicine declined repeated requests from AAPS to index the journal, citing unspecified concerns. Quackwatch lists JPandS as an untrustworthy, non-recommended periodical. An editorial in Chemical & Engineering News described JPandS as a "purveyor of utter nonsense." 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." 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."
Articles and commentaries published in the journal have argued a number of non-mainstream or scientifically discredited claims, including:that human activity has not contributed to climate change, and that global warming will be beneficial and thus not a cause for concern;
that HIV does not cause AIDS;
that the "gay male lifestyle" shortens life expectancy by 20 years.
that there is a link between abortion and the risk of breast cancer.
that there are possible links between autism and vaccinations.
A series of articles by pro-life authors published in the journal argued for a link between abortion and breast cancer. Such a link has been rejected by the scientific community, including the U.S. National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the World Health Organization, among other major medical bodies.
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 and the American Academy of Pediatrics. 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."
The Journal has also published articles advocating politically and socially conservative policy positions, including:that the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are unconstitutional;
that "humanists" have conspired to replace the "creation religion of Jehovah" with evolution;
that "anchor babies" are valuable to undocumented immigrants, particularly if the babies are disabled.
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." 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. The journal's leprosy claim was cited and repeated by Lou Dobbs as evidence of the dangers of illegal immigration.
Publicly available statistics show that the 7,000 cases of leprosy occurred during the past 30 years, not the past three as Cosman claimed. 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." 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." The article's erroneous leprosy claim was pointed out by 60 Minutes, National Public Radio, and the New York Times but has not been corrected by the Journal.