Hey, David, I’m Over Here

David Kurtz asks where the doctors are in the health care debate:

I did not envision that we could get this far down the road toward fundamental health care reform with so little input in the public discourse from physicians. Sure, the AMA has come out in favor of the House bill that includes public option. But where are voices of individual docs whose front line experience with the impediments to delivering quality health care offer invaluable instruction?

My personal experience has been that there remains a strongly conservative core segment of physicians who are wary of reform for temperamental and financial reasons (not to paint with too broad a brush, but a group that is anchored in the high-dollar medical specialties). But I’ve seen over the last 20 years or so, an equally strong segment emerge from the physician ranks: primary care docs who struggle to reconcile the demands of the modern health care financial infrastructure with their calling to make people well (or better yet, keep them healthy).

So where are the family practice docs, the public health docs, the rural practitioners, those who staff the inner city clinics? I’m not suggesting they’re purposely sitting on the sidelines, but they do seem to have been sidelined in this debate. Can we hear more from them? Have I just missed it?

Apparently he is not reading this blog!

One factor is that, regardless of their views on health care reform, doctors tend to be busy. Not many of my colleagues have a RSS reader and a window open to the blogsphere open while also using the computer for work. More of them are more likely to spend their free time playing golf as opposed to getting involved in politics.

That does not mean there is not discussion of heath care reform. It is a hot topic in the medical journals. We know that Ann Althouse doesn’t know what she is talking about when she claims there is no problem. We see people with horror stories on a regular basis (and many more people are unable to see us due to lack of coverage). Those of us who are self-employed have also experienced the problems of purchasing insurance on the individual market or for small businesses.

Health care reform is also a hot topic in the medical journals. From time to time I’ve blogged about such articles here. The most recent such post was about an editorial in The American Journal of Medicine backing Medicare for all. In this instance many in the medical profession are to the left of the Democratic Party.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    Eclectic Radical says:

    “In this instance many in the medical profession are to the left of the Democratic Party.”
     
    This hasn’t been terribly hard for at least the almost-thirty-three years since Jimmy Carter was elected. And before Carter’s Southern moderate revolution in the party, the ‘liberal’ Democratic Party of Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, and George McGovern was dependent on liberal Republicans in the House and Senate to pass legislation over the objections of Dixiecrats and moderates and on a ‘conservative Republican . The ‘liberalism’ of the Democratic Party has always been more myth than reality.
     
    The truth is that while most of ‘great liberals’ (FDR, Adlai Stephenson, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Bobby and Teddy Kennedy) have been Democrats, they have either rarely been in the ‘mainstream’ of the party (Humphrey, McGovern, and the Kennedies) or been fundamental conservatives (FDR) who enacted ‘liberal’ policies for purely pragmatic and necessary reasons.
     
    In addition, other ‘great liberals’ of the same period (most notably Nelson Rockefeller, without whom none of the ‘Great Society’ or the civil rights reforms of the 1950s and 1960s would have passed, but also NFK Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and diplomat Henry Cabot Lodge) were Republicans. Governor George Romney of Michigan ran for the Republican Party nomination in 1968 on a Rockefeller liberal platform and opposed the Vietnam War.
     
    The ‘liberal’ credentials of the Democratic Party in the 20th Century are thus little better than the liberal credentials of the Republican Party during the same period. Indeed, if one throws in the ‘Roosevelt Republicans’ of the New Deal era (And if one considers that Herbert Hoover was responsible for about twenty-five percent of the New Deal and both Alf Landon and Wendell Wilkie endorsed 75 to 95 percent of it… and that Thomas Dewey had been a New Dealer Republican… then even Roosevelt’s presidential opponents were very close to being ‘Roosevelt Republicans’) and takes into account the horrible record of the Dixiecrats on the New Deal and Civil Rights, then the GOP may actually finish with the better liberal credentials for the 20th Century as a whole.
     
    Of course, the GOP is a very long way from any kind of liberalism now and is so far out on the right that it almost deserves scorn more than reasoned debate.
     

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