In 2007, when Vivek Murthy, M.D., ’03, M.B.A. ’03, an internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, was working on then-candidate Barack Obama’s New England steering committee, he noted how few physicians were involved. “It was especially striking since health reform was part of the campaign,” he said. When Obama won the Democratic Party nomination, Murthy and fellow physicians founded the national group Doctors for Obama.
After the election, the group changed its name to Doctors for America (DFA) and its focus. With a private grant sponsored by the Center for American Progress, DFA promotes health care reform and encourages physicians to speak out on the process.
“It’s never been more important for doctors to be engaged,” said Mandy Krauthamer Cohen, M.D. ’05, M.P.H., the group’s executive director.
More than 15,000 physicians have signed on in support of legislation that brings affordable insurance to all American families, ensures high-quality care, expands access to care, and creates practice environments that allow physicians to focus on patient care. DFA also encourages physicians to share their stories and their ideas for change.
“Real stories speak clearly across the spectrum,” said Murthy, president of the group. DFA leaders shared hundreds of online comments and stories at a physician stakeholders’ meeting sponsored by the White House Office of Health Reform in June. In October, DFA physicians were among doctors from all 50 states invited by President Obama to a Rose Garden address, where the physicians shared their stories with the press.
Comments have focused on certain themes, Cohen said: primary care is undervalued and under-reimbursed; the health care system focuses on sick patients rather than on prevention and wellness; reimbursements should reflect time spent with patients, rather than the number of procedures completed; and the need for malpractice reform. And 90 percent of the DFA respondents supported a public option to provide health insurance for the uninsured.
Following are responses from physicians affiliated with the School of Medicine, including students, alumni, residents, and faculty. YM