The AMA's self-presentation is as a membership organization of doctors. But many doctors, of course, are not AMA members, and the group “inflates its numbers by giving reduced membership fees to medical school students and retirees, who make up about half of the dues payers." ... [T]he AMA has found that it can't rely on membership dues to generate the kind of revenue that the AMA leadership is looking for. Instead, they've turned to corporate sponsorship—businesses with money to make by casting a veneer of medical respectability around their pursuit of profit find a relationship with the AMA to be useful.
These days, fortunately, the AMA isn't on the hook to tobacco companies for its money and it's not into anything as deadly as touting the health benefits of cigarettes. What they are on the hook for, however, is the pharmaceutical lobby which provides at least 20 percent of the AMA's budget. And PhRMA is in the midst of a multimillion dollar advocacy campaign against many progressive health reform ideas.
Ouch. Add that to the list of things the New York Times probably should have included in its report about the AMA's opposition to a public health care option.