updated 6/17/2009 1:06:26 PM ET 2009-06-17T17:06:26

The American Medical Association has declined to take a firm position on President Barack Obama's proposal to create a public health insurance program.

The AMA delegates meeting in Chicago agreed Wednesday to support health care reform alternatives that are "consistent with AMA principles," which include freedom to choose health insurance and universal access for patients. But they didn't specifically support a plan for public health insurance.

Several AMA members say that by not using the words "public option" the AMA is sending a message that they are obstructing Obama's efforts to reform health care.

But the AMA's immediate past president, Dr. Nancy Nielsen, says the group didn't close the door to a public option. She says delegates simply didn't want to be seen as supporting something that hasn't been defined yet.

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