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Stopping “The Government Option”

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The AMA finally got into the game this week, but not before defining itself in the eyes of most of its members as incredibly useless or worse-than-useless in the battle to stop the radical restructuring of American medicine. Doctors have to act on their own behalf and be their own activists as discussed below, though is a great place for genuine M.D. activism to focus. The AMA’s very late entry into the debate is a CYA measure for association staff to point to when docs look up and see the destruction of their practices and the relationship with patients post-“government option.” The AMA will quickly fall back into the somnambulance that has defined it throughout 2009 as the left edge of the Democratic Congress has pushed forward the “government option,” which if passed will quickly swallow the private insurance industry and turn every M.D. into a de facto federal employee. Doctors have to remember it took the AMA until June 9 to announce opposition to the worst part of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid plan, long after any serious lobbying/education effort needed to be launched. But the AMA convention gets a visit from President Obama! Sort of like Notre Dame, with the leadership tossing its principles and constituents’ interests overboard for a photo shot with the big boss.

Some attention was given yesterday to the creation of nonprofit “cooperatives” to assist in the purchase of health insurance. If these cooperatives were not managed by the federal government, they would be a much preferred alternative to the “government option.”

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove concludes that “[i]f Democrats enact a public-option health-insurance program, America is on the way to becoming a European-style welfare state.” Rove is right, and he goes on to provide five agreements against the massive though camouflaged take-over of health care via the “government option,” also known as “the public option.”

The focus of docs and other health care professionals as well as citizen activists has to be on the Blue Dog Democrats in the House and less than a dozen Democratic senators, most of whom face re-election in 2010. The first three calls should go to Max Baucus, Kent Conrad and Chris Dodd, with the message to Dodd being especially blunt: If the “government option” comes out of the Senate, a check goes into your opponent Rob Simmons’ coffers. (Along with Baucus, Dodd is the most important senator in the crafting of this legislation.)

The contact info for the Blue Dogs in the House is here.

Senators can be reached via the Senate switchboard: 202-225-3121. Here are the ones to call after you call Senators Baucus, Conrad and Dodd:

Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln

New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand

Indiana’s Evan Bayh

North Dakota’s Byron Dorgan

Colorado’s Michael Bennet

Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter

Oregon’s Ron Wyden

Washington’s Patty Murray and

yes, Nevada’s Harry Reid. If Majority Leader Reid truns against the “government option,” it is dead.

Doctors need to call these offices via the Senate switchboard, 202-225-3121 and deliver the blunt message: The government option will cripple American medicine and anyone who supports it is an enemy of doctors and health care professionals.


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