Until recently, physicians were viewed as the dominant player in health policy. Now, however, they compete with many other effective interest groups. This article analyzes this changing role, and specifically how organized medicine has changed its approach to influencing health policy. The essay begins with a review of the reasons for the growth and subsequent decline of physicians' influence. This is followed by a case study of physician payment reform under Medicare, which illustrates the ways in which organized medicine chooses when and when not to cooperate with government. The article concludes with a discussion of where physicians are likely to continue to be influential in future health policy reform. Three such areas are noted: payment policy,quality and clinical innovation, and medical education and training.

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