AP On The Trail Of The Obvious by Pat Conrad MD


According to the Associated Press 6/2/14, “Doctors lean more left, political donations show.” No kidding.

Specific points:

  • The study focused on donations of $200 or more to presidential and congressional candidates or political organizations from 1991 through 2012. At the beginning, almost 3 percent of U.S. doctors made contributions, rising to almost 10 percent by the end of the study.
  • Females make up an increasing proportion of physicians, and they donate more often than men to Democrats.
  • “Surgeons, dominated by men, were the strongest GOP supporters while pediatricians — more than half of whom are women — were most likely to contribute to Democrats.”
  • From the mid-1990s the 75 percent of all MD contributions to the GOP had declined to 50 percent in 2011-12.
  • “Doctors’ right-leaning reputation dates back at least as far as 1965, when the American Medical Association strongly opposed the passage of Medicare, the study authors say.” (Pat: Whatever ‘right-leaning’ bona fides physicians thought they had earned, they tossed them when they started depending on government cash. The AMA, which had opposed, properly, the creation of Medicare/Medicaid, spun on its heel when the bill was passed, with its hand out).
  • “The AMA has since lost sway — less than one-third of U.S. physicians are members — but it remains the nation’s largest doctor group and a powerful lobbying presence in Washington. It also has moved more to the center, including voicing support for the Affordable Care Act.” (Pat: ObamaCare a ‘move to the center’?)

This may all be news to the AP, but I could have clued them in two decades ago. Almost half of my med school class was female; and most of them were of the nurturing-squishy-pro-HillaryCare type who approached policy challenges as emotional opportunities. Intentions trumped results. (On average the several female colleagues who went into surgery were delightfully more hard-nosed regarding world (not individual medical!) problem solving, especially after the second pitcher). But it wasn’t just the gals. Plenty of our male number also fell into the do-gooder trap, but they were less in number – maybe they were just trying to get in good with the gals?

Over the years med students and residents have been increasingly taught to be “responsible stewards of scarce medical resources.” That’s another way of saying that something – or someone – is community property. Three generations of physicians have been inculcated with this thinking, and a belief in the nobility of doing good with other people’s money. And we should not let the GOP off the hook (hello Medicare Part D!). Whether more doc-bucks are now going to the Democrats, this mess is a bipartisan one decades in the making. During that time, the composition of physicians has changed, along with whatever attitudinal shifts that entails, including an increased reliance on, even embrace of government cash.

But take Caesar’s coin and you get the legionnaires, in the form of SGR’s, ICD/CPT’s, EMR’s, audits, and all the rest. So we all bow and scrape, try to please the current ruler in order to protect our mortgages, and favor more good works to rationalize our subjugation. And that naturally, insidiously, moves us to favor the hand that feeds…we hope. Does the AP understand this?

54030cookie-checkAP On The Trail Of The Obvious by Pat Conrad MD