The Christian Medical Association (CMA), the nation’s largest association of faith-based physicians, today spoke out against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) reported offer to get physicians to drop their opposition to pending healthcare legislation in exchange for more money.Senator Reid reportedly promised national medical groups that the Senate would take up legislation to halt scheduled Medicare cuts in doctor payments over the next 10 years in return for physicians’ support for his version of healthcare reform.
My dear friend, and CMA CEO, David Stevens, MD, said, “Media reports that Majority Leader Reid is trying to cut a deal with physicians that hinges solely on money shows how morally bankrupt this politicization of medicine is becoming. If professional medical organizations were to play along with Reid’s scheme of halting Medicare cuts in exchange for physicians’ support of his healthcare bill, they would be selling their birthright.”
Dr. Stevens went on to say, “Such a sellout would be the watershed event that historians would point to as marking the de-professionalization of medicine, when physicians traded convictions for cash. If physicians abandon their professed commitment to the patient’s welfare in order to solely pursue financial reward, patients will pay the price–some with their lives.”
The fact that Mr. Reid would stoop to backroom bargaining tactics is an indication of desperation, an acknowledgement that most physicians are opposed to his healthcare legislation. Stunningly, as polling has shown, an impressive 45 percent of physicians say they actually are ready to quit medicine if the current proposed healthcare legislation passes.
Add to that data what a national survey of faith-based physicians found: That 95 percent are ready to leave medicine if a weakening of conscience protections would force them to violate their conscientiously held convictions.
Dr. Stevens adds, “Mr. Reid and his allies may be working behind closed doors on a clever way to pass healthcare legislation, but maybe they should be working on who’s going to carry out their new scheme if over half the nation’s physicians quit medicine.
“Cold cash offers are not going to sway principled physicians. The question that Mr. Reid and his colleagues should be asking is not how to buy off the ever-shrinking AMA or a small cadre of cash-conscious doctors, but how to accommodate the concerns of the vast majority of principled physicians who value conscience rights and want to keep the government from interfering with the physician-patient relationship.”