AMA, AARP THROW SUPPORT TO REFORM…. During previous fights over health care reform, the American Medical Association (AMA) played a strong opposition role. Today, the group endorsed the final reform package pending in Congress.

“The pending bill is imperfect, but we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good when it comes to something as important as the health of Americans,” said J. James Rohack, M.D., AMA president. “By extending health coverage to the vast majority of the uninsured, improving competition and choice in the insurance marketplace, promoting prevention and wellness, reducing administrative burdens, and promoting clinical comparative effectiveness research, this bill will help patients and their physicians.”

“While the final product is certainly not what we would have devised, we strongly support the parts of this bill that are desperately needed by millions of Americans who are struggling to get or keep health insurance coverage,” Dr. Rohack said.

Separately, but around the same time, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) also threw its backing to the health care legislation.

The AARP endorsed the reconciliation healthcare bill today, placing the heft of its 40 million members behind final passage.

“After a thorough analysis of the reform package, we believe this legislation brings us so much closer to helping millions of older Americans get quality, affordable health care,” AARP chairwoman Bonnie Cramer said in a statement. “For too long, our members and others have faced spiraling prescription drug costs, discriminatory practices by insurance companies and a Medicare system awash in fraud, waste and abuse.”

AARP CEO Barry Rand sent a letter to every member of Congress today urging them to support the legislation.

It sure does seem odd that the powerhouse organizations would endorse a radical “government takeover” of the nation’s health care system. It’s almost as if the AMA and AARP scrutinized the legislation and concluded that the unhinged complaints from opponents have no basis in reality.

As a practical matter, I’m not sure how many votes, if any, are swayed by these kinds of institutional endorsements. But as Democratic leaders seek to generate some momentum, having backing from the AMA and AARP certainly doesn’t hurt — especially 48 hours before a final vote — and may even offer some cover to lawmakers who are anxious to characterize the proposal as a consensus, mainstream approach to health care policy.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.