Thursday, December 30, 2004

Are Doctors Learning Perils of Single Issue Voting?

While my colleagues overwhelmingly supported George Bush over John Kerry, it is increasingly looking like doctors (as with the rest of the voting population) are opposing Bush on specific policies. Many doctors are learning the perils of single issue voting, after voting for George Bush on the mistaken belief that he would do more that John Kerry to resolve the malpractice crisis. (I dealt with this issue at length prior to the election in an on line debate at Point of Law.)

Reports out of this year's Interim Meeting of the American Medical Association indicate disagreement with George Bush on issues beyond malpractice reform. There is increased concern about his plans to cut domestic spending, including a reduction in pay for treating Medicare patients. People outside of the medical profession are also concerned about this GOP stance, fearing it will lead to an increased number of seniors who are unable to obtain medical care, as more doctors are unwilling to accept Medicare patients. AMA President John Nelson recently acknowledged that conservative politicians who (in his opinion) support doctors on malpractice reform are not on their side with regards to reimbursement issues. At the Interim Meeting, AMA members also supported reimportation of prescription drugs, provided there are measures to ensure patient safety.

Doctors who voted for George Bush in the hopes of seeing lower malpractice premiums will likely be disappointed by the results of Bush's malpractice proposals, and see a reduction in income. We'll also continue to face the problems of government science policy being dictated by the religious right, including restrictions on stem cell research and abortion rights.

The final straw might be if doctors who voted for George Bush wind up being drafted. The New York Times reported on contingency plans for a draft of health care professionals prior to the election, and the Wall Street Journal repeated the reports after Bush was reelected.


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