My new WashingtonExaminer.com column returns to a theme I have sounded for months: The 800,000 medical doctors in the United States could decide the fate of the ominous “government option” being pushed by the left wing of the Democratic Party if those doctors weigh in with the moderates in the Democratic Party and urge that this lurch to single-payer be rejected.
Those moderates in the House are grouped in the Blue Dog caucus, and the contact info for all the Blue Dogs is listed here. Later this week I will add the contact information for the Democrats in the Senate who face tough re-election campaigns in 2010. If MDs rally and focus their efforts on these two groups, they have the ability to kill the government option. If even a couple of thousand doctors contact each member listed, the impact will be huge.
But doctors have to self-organize and self-motivate. They will get no leadership from the AMA. They need to reach out to their local colleagues and through their hospital networks. They need to find their friends from medical school and their residencies, and from their annual meetings.
In short, they have to act as though their professional lives depended upon their own efforts –which in fact they do. If they fail to stop the “government option” most of them will be de facto government employees in a matter of a few short years, prescribing the treatments approved by federal boards and charging the (low) fees established by federal oversight.
The public that wants to preserve patient rights will have to act as well, but if the doctors are silent, don’t expect elected members to pay much attention.
I continue to invite doctors to e-mail me their assessment of the effects of a government-option/single-payer plan on patient care in America via firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Dr. K.N. in Colorado:
I am a surgeon in the Denver suburbs and have been listening to you since you started at KNUS. Additionally, I follow your blog daily. I have been in practice for about 10 years. One aspect of the impending nationalization of medical care which I have not seen covered is the Faustian component. I, along with my colleagues, provide a significant amount of charity care. When covering the Emergency Department, quite a few folks come in and it is all free. When I ask my colleagues about universal care, they frequently reply that at least they will get reimbursed for this free care. That may be true in the short term, but when government has a monopoly and ratchets down reimbursements, that small percentage of free care will look like a pretty good deal.