Yesterday President Obama gave a presentation on health care, backed up by 150 physicians in white coats. It turns out that, for the cameras, these 150 doctors were given their coats by the Obama stagehands staff.
WASHINGTON -- President Obama yesterday rolled out the red carpet -- and handed out doctors' white coats as well, just so nobody missed his hard-sell health-care message.
In a heavy-handed attempt at reviving support for health-care reform, the White House orchestrated a massive photo op to buttress its claim that front-line physicians support Obama.
A sea of 150 white-coated doctors, all enthusiastically supportive of the president and representing all 50 states, looked as if they were at a costume party as they posed in the Rose Garden before hearing Obama's pitch for the Democratic overhaul bills moving through Congress.
The physicians, all invited guests, were told to bring their white lab coats to make sure that TV cameras captured the image.
But some docs apparently forgot, failing to meet the White House dress code by showing up in business suits or dresses
I don't wear a white coat anymore, preferring shirt and tie with or without sportcoat as my professional appearance. Apparently a number of these MD's were in the same boat, these "invited guests." Wow, 150 docs. That's, like, .015% of the total physician population. These were members of Doctors For America, the post-election offshoot of Doctors for Obama.
And all this to counter the actual opinions of physicians on this matter. Recall that Investor's Business Daily poll of physicians that suggested that 45% of physicians would consider quitting or retiring early if the Obama health reform outline passes. Don't like that one? Prefer the NEJM poll that some are pointing to? Some have interpreted that poll to mean that 63% like Mr. Obama's plan. Let's have a look at the data.
The doctors answered the following question.
Survey respondents were asked to indicate which of three options for expanding health insurance coverage they would most strongly support: public and private options, providing people younger than 65 years of age the choice of enrolling in a new public health insurance plan (like Medicare) or in private plans; private options only, providing people with tax credits or subsidies, if they have low income, to buy private insurance coverage, without creating a new public plan; or a public option only, eliminating private insurance and covering everyone through a single public plan like Medicare.
There are several points worth making. First, only 9% favor single payer. Nine percent. Three times as many favor private-only options. Second, the group that chose the middle response (which biases the poll as many people when given three choices will choose the middle ground so as not to appear extreme) didn't answer the more pertinent question, which is "Would you favor a government option for health care reform if such a device eventually led to single payer government health care?" That's what the plan's architect, Jacob Hacker of Yale, insists is the purpose of the public option. And there are an awful lot of people who intend for the public option to lead to single payer. I submit that such a question would have a significant dropoff in support.
For evidence, I give you the Million Med March. No, it wasn't anywhere near a million, as it was held on a Thursday, and hey, we work for a living. But there were a heck of a lot more than 150.
Oh, and, by the way, Jacob Hacker isn't just in the political science department at Yale. He's on the board of Doctors for America.