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Physician, Heal Thyself

Hal Scherz, a doctor and president of the right-wing lobby "Docs4PatientCare" writes in today's Wall Street Journal that he and members of his group are posting letters in their waiting rooms warning patients of the horrors of the Affordable Care Act and urging repeal:

The letter states in unambiguous language what the new law means:

"Dear Patient: Section 1311 of the new health care legislation gives the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and her appointees the power to establish care guidelines that your doctor must abide by or face penalties and fines. In making doctors answerable in the federal bureaucracy this bill effectively makes them government employees and means that you and your doctor are no longer in charge of your health care decisions. This new law politicizes medicine and in my opinion destroys the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship that makes the American health care system the best in the world."

The funny thing is that the language here almost perfectly mirrors the American Medical Association's hysterical warning about the horrors that would follow the establishment of Medicare:

The AMA’s campaign against the King-Anderson version of Medicare was a complex, extensive, and well-financed lobbying tour-de-force. Many aspects of the WHAM campaign were very public and visible. The AMA placed advertisements in major newspapers and funded radio and television spots, all deploying the usual red-brush of “socialism,” and even the specter of jack-booted federal bureaucrats violating “the privacy of the examination room.”

The AMA enlisted Ronald Reagan, who recorded a plea against Medicare that doctor's wives played for their neighbors and husbands' patients. In it Reagan warned that, if Medicare passed, "one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free." Now, of course, it is Medicare itself that represents that sacrosanct principle of liberty, and the extension of health insurance coverage to thirty million Americans who now lack it the dark specter of socialism. The conservative response to liberal social reform is an endless cycle of hysteria and amnesia, with every next step a dagger in the heart of the free enterprise system, but every previous such warning forgotten.

The most comical part of the letter may be this bizarre juxtaposition:

This doctor's office is non-partisan—always has been, always will be. But the fact is that every Republican voted against this bad bill while the Democratic Party leadership and the White House completely dismissed the will of the people in ruthlessly pushing through this legislation. ...
Please remember when you vote this November that unless the Democratic Party receives a strong negative message about this power grab our health care system will never be fixed and the doctor patient relationship will be ruined forever.

They really seem to detect no credible issue whatsoever ever with declaraing their fealty to nonpartisanship in one breath and then urging patients to vote Republican in the other.