I am touched and honored that my letter to the AMA resonated with so many other health care providers, and even more with patients. It was humbling to read through the comments on the HuffingtonPost and see how many people want desperately to restore the integrity of the profession, and to see physicians practice on behalf of their patients.
I must admit that I was also amused by the number of Star Trek references (I actually get very few of those in my daily practice). The best was "Dammit, Jim! I'm a doctor, not a profit-center!" I was also honored to be recommended for the Nobel Peace Prize, but I think that's a bit premature -- we need to get health care reformed passed (with a public health insurance option) before I'll entertain thoughts of a Nobel. :-)
In just one day, we saw an incredible impact: the AMA retracted its opposition to the public health insurance option. This just shows how we are on the right side of history. We know that we must do what is in the best interest of our patients if we are ever to have a health care system that works.
There was one theme in the comments to my letter that occurred time and time again - something that I know is not true: patients and the public believe that I am a unique physician in my desire for a patient-centered health care system; one without profits, salary or income as my first concern.
Quite to the contrary, I know there are thousands of doctors who believe that we can be the professionals that we dreamed of being when we applied to medical school. If you are a physician who shares this vision of health care, please sign the petition to support the public health insurance option, join the National Physicians Alliance, and talk about these issues with your colleagues.
If you are not a physician, you can send the above links to your friends in health care, as well as your own health care provider. You can also support our campaign to advocate on behalf of patients first.
I know I am not alone in my belief that physicians have a duty to ensure that the health care system works for our patients. But we need to work together to ensure that our policy leaders hear our voices, because we know the opposition will be strong, will be organized, and will attempt to scare our patients into believing the current dysfunction system is the best that America can do.
That is not true. We can have affordable, high quality health care in the United States, and we can do it while still offering the choice to our patients of keeping their current insurance plan if they like it, selecting another private plan, or choosing a quality public health insurance plan.
Health care reform will happen this year. We will make the health care system work for our patients.