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.