Thursday, March 04, 2010

Am I A Traitor To Shake Hands With President Obama?

Photo courtesy of Dr. Andrew Bern

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of attending an event at the White House at the invitation of President Obama. I was surprised to learn that my attendance at the recent Presidential address in the East Room has caused some members to threaten to leave ACEP. It is of concern to me that some members feel this way, in spite of the existence of a well-publicized advocacy agenda that focuses on improved access to health care for all Americans. Being invited to and attending an event at the White House in no way implies wholesale endorsement of the President’s health care reform proposal or any other proposal.

Let me say that being invited to attend an event at the White House, being able to have a few words and shake the hand of the President of the United States, being able to have a short conversation with Secretary Sebelius, and having the opportunity to meet and discuss strategy with my counterparts in the major specialty organizations in medicine was a unique and productive opportunity. I think it important that representatives of the college be able to take advantage of such opportunities without fear of members quitting the college over the action, not the substance, of the visit.

A dose of reality is needed here. We are a 28,000 member organization. It is a matter of pride that we have developed a respected and requested voice in Washington D.C. health policy. However, declining an invitation to the White House would gain nothing for our patients and for our members. Hopefully, our members will understand and respect that fact.

Lastly, attending the President’s announcement of his new health care reform plan and applauding his request that Congress take action sooner rather than later does not imply that the American College of Emergency Physicians endorses carte blanche every aspect of that proposal. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that health reforms include provisions that improve the health and well-being of our patients and our member physicians.

It is a challenge to lead an organization as diverse and as divided as ours is at this moment in time. We are a representative organization, and I ask those of you with concerns about the policies of the college to speak up, get involved, make your perspective known to your Chapter president, the Council, your Board of Directors, and to me. One opinion will not have the opportunity to be heard in the density of Washington politics, but many voices joined together to promote better emergency care for all can change the course of history.

Please join me in that pursuit.


Trust us....we're doctors said...

Members threaten to quit b/c you were there? We don't need ignorant members like that! First of all....this is a free country. Their is freedom of choice and freedom to have your own opinions. Just b/c you agree with some of a Democrats opinions (the real heart of the matter) doesn't mean that all of ACEP feels that way. Let these closed minded members go! I am sure they will have great careers letting EmCare decide their future.

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Aaron Lovinger said...

From the ACEP website: "Does ACEP support President Obama’s plans for health care reform? The nation’s emergency physicians support the President's health care reform principles and will work to achieve the long-term benefits that reforms should bring. We are asking Congress and Obama Administration to recognize and fund the central role that emergency medicine plays in the health care system."

This is an interesting segment, because the ACEP-generated question asks about ACEP and the answer refers to emergency physicians, which is an apparent dodge of the question. Why would you dodge your own question? Regardless, this statement is not true because many emergency physicians, including myself, do not support them, and I personally cannot understand why any physician would support the President’s reform measures. However, despite the dodge, the answer does imply that ACEP supports the proposals. You state that you applaud “his request that Congress take action sooner rather than later”. Supporting Obama’s request for Congress to take action is implicit support of the action he is requesting them to take. Why would any EP who opposes these reforms desire to be a member of ACEP and be represented by you?

Anonymous said...

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.