Politics: The administration stages a photo-op with handpicked doctors who support its health care reform. Fortunately, most doctors still believe that the first rule of medicine is to do no harm.
It would seem some doctors still make house calls. Some 150 of them made one at the White House Monday in an attempt to give a booster shot to the administration's chaotic and stalled health care reform drive.
Rather than a grass-roots uprising of physicians, this was a classic case of AstroTurfing.
Attendance was by invitation only, and 40 of the 150 were said to be members of Doctors for America, a reincarnation of the Doctors for Obama arm of the Obama campaign that boasts of having more than 15,000 members.
The physicians were told to bring their white lab coats with them to make sure the TV cameras to capture the proper image. Those who just showed up wearing suits or dresses were provided with lab coats hastily rustled up.
White House spokesman Reid Cherlin insisted that the doctors "were not invited based on their support for a public option." We'd like a second opinion on that. Doctors for America as an organization embraces a government-run insurance option.
"It just appears that the president of the United States, at this point, is choosing to meet only those who support his agenda," said Dr. Margaret Flowers, a Maryland pediatrician and congressional fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program, a group not invited.
Perhaps the reason is statements such as Dr. Flowers' that the "current health reform being written in Congress, particularly that being put together in the Senate Finance Committee (by Sen. Max Baucus), will not be universal and will not control health costs. ... It will not produce a health care system that uses our health care dollars wisely."
The fact is, most doctors are not happy with either the House bill or the Baucus bill. "This is war," Dr. George Watson, a Kansas physician and president-elect of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, told FoxNews.com. "This is a bureaucratic boondoggle to grab control of health care. Everything that has been proposed in the 1,018-page bill will contribute to the ruination of medicine."
Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the AAPS, told the Washington Examiner: "Promised coverage is not the same thing as care. All you're getting is a place in the waiting lines."
A survey last fall of 270,000 primary care physicians by the Physicians Foundation found that if health care reform passes, 30% expect to see fewer patients, 13% will find something that does not involve patient care and 11% plan to retire altogether.
No less than the Mayo Clinic has given proposed reform two thumbs down. "The proposed legislation," Mayo says on its policy blog, "misses the opportunity to help create higher-quality, more affordable health care for patients. In fact, it will do the opposite."
Our own IBD/TIPP Poll found that 72% of the doctors polled disagree with the administration's claim that the government can cover 47 million more people with better-quality care at lower cost. Two-thirds, or 65%, of more than 1,300 randomly selected doctors say they oppose the proposed government expansion plan.
Nearly half, or 45%, said they "would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement" if Congress passes the plan the Democratic majority and White House have in mind.
Considering that we have around 800,000 practicing physicians, that's a lot more than belong to Doctors for Obama, er, America and more than showed up in the Rose Garden. And they will take their white lab coats with them.