Doctors for America facilitated a very successful call with the White House last night. Over 1,500 physicians from many different physician organizations were joined by Tina Tchen, Director of the Office of Public Engagement, Mike Hash, Senior Adviser in the Office of Health Reform, Meena Seshmani the Policy Director in the HHS Office of Health Reform and David Simas from the Communications Office.
The call started a few minutes late because so many physicians were calling in...the AT&T operators got overwhelmed. Dr. Vivek Murthy, President of Doctors for America, lead off the call by remarking about the historic nature of this effort and the importance of physicians being part of pushing for change. Then we heard introductory remarks from the panelists. Not a lot of new ground was covered here... but luckily it was a brief intro. Tina framed the issue, Mike gave an update on the new med mal reform pilots just announced yesterday by HHS ($25 million - see blog post from yesterday), Meena gave the physician perspective and David Simas was extremely thoughtful as usual about messaging reform to our communities
The best part of the call was the question and answer portion. To the White House's credit...they took 40 straight minutes of Q&A. I think the questions covered all the hot topics: public option - is it off the table or not, what does this mean for physicians and our patients, and how can we improve our messenger; medical liability issues and the need for reform; loan forgiveness for physicians practicing in underserved communities or for practicing primary care; accountability for both doctors and patients in terms of lifestyle choices and quality of care delivery. There was discussion about the root cause of concierge medicine and how this is a symptom of larger problems in our health care system.
And as if I planned it myself -- a doctor asked the White House "How can the voice of physicians could be better heard in this debate (other than the heads of medical organizations)?" Tina Chen from the White House replied that she knew Vivek and DFA can give you the tools to get your voice heard.
YES, YES WE CAN give you the tools to be heard. Use our Call/Email Congress tool. Write letters to the editor with our letter to the editor tool, give a talk to your colleague with the ppt slides on our site, hang up a poster in your waiting room to dispel myths. Volunteer to get more involved and connect with colleagues all around the country working for health reform.
I digress, back to the White House call. We at Doctors for America were very pleased with the call over all. Pleased with the turnout. Pleased that so many different groups joined the call. Pleased that the White House took so many questions. We have been getting great feedback from our members all morning. We will try to do more of these activities to keep the dialogue open.