Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Letters from Doctors.

My friend Howie (ok, ok, it's actually Howard), an emergency room physician practicing in the system for over 20 years, wrote a succinct letter to his senator. But more than succinct, it is personal. My first urge was to share it. Then suddenly I realized we could benefit from hearing more from the professionals to whom we trust our lives and health. So, first Howie's letter. Then a couple of moving YouTube videos featuring others from the medical profession, talking about the patients whose care has been compromised by the current health care system.

From: Howard Bernstein
Date: August 19, 2009 10:28:27 AM MDT
Subject: Health Care

Dear Senator Bingaman:

I wish to express my strong support for the Democrats' efforts to pass some sort of Health Care Reform bill. I say "some sort" because as a health care professional (I am an Emergency Room physician in Albuquerque who has been practicing for 20 + years) I believe anything you might do in good faith to fix our health care system would be better than what we have currently. I find it unconscionable that so many people delay getting care or get no care at all due to lack of coverage. Personally I do not see why health care needs to be a for profit business, and although I think a single payer system would be better, I hope you will at least support a public option bill.

Another related, and in a way as concerning an issue, is the tenor of debate that is occurring in the public forum. I understand that what we see on the news may not reflect what is actually happening, but in this instance, perception is reality. I truly worry that the extreme views and willful ignorance being demonstrated is a threat to our civil society. The currents of racism are impossible to ignore. I expect to see you come out forcefully against the boorish behavior we see, insist on certain truths and stand up for our American values. Please do not pander to the right wing to save a few votes in the next election. You will lose my vote without question if you do not support a) health care reform with a public option and b) I do not see evidence of you speaking out against the hatred and ignorance of the right wing.

Please speak the truth. You know as well as I that: VA health care is a type of socialized medicine and it works quite well. Medicare and Medicaid are socialized medicine programs and work as well as most private insurances. Rationing of care already exists and should not be vilified necessarily but be examined for the risks/benefits involved. End of life discussions should not be shelved simply because you allowed the right wing to hijack that debate by invoking "death panels" It is disturbing that the Democrats have found it so hard to stand up and be honest, forthright and insistent on their convictions. Please lead the way for your fellow Senators and let us see you out front and center.

Howard Y. Bernstein M.D.

If Dr. Bernstein's letter moves you, consider writing your elected officials with your own personal story. Here is a link where you can find the names and email addresses of your Senators and Congress folk by clicking onto your state on a map of America. Easy peasy!

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