Call for Unity – March 21, 2010

Angela Gardner, MDToday’s health care reform vote on Capitol Hill, while high drama, really only signals the beginning of the work that needs to be done by emergency physicians to improve access to emergency care for our patients and future patients.  As I write this, I am watching the floor deliberations via the miracle of technology, and I know that the outcome will disappoint 48% of ACEP members, 48% of all physicians, and 48% of the American public, if polls are to be believed … and that will occur regardless of the outcome.

The greatness of our democracy lies in the ability of our people to freely elect their government representatives and to express themselves fully in the debate over crucial issues.  Never in my lifetime has this been more apparent than during the health care reform debate.  I believe that almost everyone has an opinion on health care, including many non-Americans, and almost everyone has expressed that opinion at some point.

The real challenge to our democracy, to our specialty, and to our organization is to move forward once today’s vote has been taken.  We must have great care not to fall victim to Jefferson’s “tyranny of the minority.”  We must move forward to create the greatest health care system in the world, befitting the greatest nation in the world, no matter the outcome of today’s vote.

There is no “win” today for emergency medicine.  There is only new illumination on the path to achieving better emergency care.  The real work comes as we identify areas that need our skills in innovation and problem-solving and get to work shoring up the nation’s emergency care system.  My fervent wish is that emergency physicians will find a common bond in the needs of our patients, and put the rancor and division of the path to health care reform behind us in the interest of better emergency care for everyone.

Thank you for your leadership and partnership in this endeavor,

Angela  F. Gardner, MD, FACEP
American College of Emergency Physicians

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  1. #1 by shadowfax MD - March 21st, 2010 at 19:54

    I’m sorry but this is pathetic. As I wrote elsewhere, this is a staggering failure of leadership on the part of ACEP.

    If ACEP cannot see that EM has a real interest in extending insurance to 31 million americans, if ACEP cannot see the value in strengthening community health centers and primary care, if all ACEP has to offer is weak pablum like this, then I have to wonder what its function is.

    And when NEMPAC asks for my money in the future, I will ask them why I should donate when ACEP stood on the sidelines during the debate on the most important piece of legislation during our professional careers.

    Sad. Unity would be nice, leadership from ACEP would have been better.

  2. #2 by Jim Mitchiner - March 22nd, 2010 at 11:28

    Thank you Angela. Nice letter. Count me among the 48%.

  3. #3 by Jaime Lent - March 22nd, 2010 at 12:45


    I don’t understand your last sentence. We do have a common bond. That is why we are emergency physicians. ??

    I think the 4 in “48%” must have been a blurred 9, cause “98%” would seem to fit the first 2 categories better.

    It will be interesting to see where we go from here.

    Dissappointed/Amused, but not blind-sided by the political outcome,

    J Lent

  4. #4 by Jorge - March 22nd, 2010 at 23:39

    We may all be Emergency Physicians but as individuals we all do this for different reasons. Some of these reasons will be more altruistic than others. That is the reality. What is also real is that what makes our health-care system more dysfunctional also makes US (EM Physicians) more needed and in higher demand. As we live in a capitalist economy this also makes us higher paid (supply and demand) We must all be aware that what makes our health-care system better may not be what makes us (EM physicians) richer.

  5. #5 by Jim Wilde - March 23rd, 2010 at 09:03

    It may be true that ED docs will benefit by this legislation, because the category of “self pay” will now magically go away. Wait a minute…it’s actually NOT so magic. The government will bleed us dry through taxes to pay for this monstrosity.
    The Democrats (not the US voters) have just passed legislation that will inevitably lead to socialized medicine as insurance companies go bankrupt under the ridiculous provisions in this bill. The accounting gimmicks used to pass the bill will come back to haunt all of us, particularly the generations to come. This is yet another example of generational theft perpetrated by the Democrats.
    I don’t know anyone who wanted no change in our health care system. There were a number of reasonable ideas put forth by the opposition party, all of which were essentially dismissed because the intent all along has been socialism, not repairing our health care system. Is there “gain” in this bill for ED docs? Perhaps, but it is far outweighed by the damage to our country and our constitution.

  6. #6 by Rachel Lucas - March 27th, 2010 at 07:51

    I am very, very disappointed by the ACEP statement of strong support for the recently passed legislation. I have sent comments via the ACEP news briefs indicating that the coverage of the entire debate was very much “in favor” of the Democratic legislation. I was assured this was not true, and coverage was objective. It is now clear to me that ACEP in fact has not been objective, and has misrepresented me and many other EM physicians on this issue. Where is this 48% number coming from? It is false. Much, much more than 48% of physicians are opposed to this legislation – and not simply for personal financial implications. The problem will be more obstruction to health care delivery in addition to remimbursement. Not only will this legislation further bankrupt our country, it will impose more government involvement on our delivery of care to our patients. Medicare and Medicaid are poorly managed as they are, are we to expect things to get better with even more government involvement? Finally, any healthcare legilsation that purports to contain cost is disingenuous without malpractice reform, and ACEP was negligent in supporting any legislation without it. I will not give to EMPAC either.

  7. #7 by C. Proctor - March 30th, 2010 at 12:20

    It is shameful that during this entire healthcare reform debate, we have lost sight of the “big picture”. We are so concerned with our individual pockets and political alliances, that we miss the fact that 32 more million people will now have healthcare coverage.

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