PA: Doctors Tell Patients How to Vote

  1. look whats been going on in my backyard! docs telling patients which candidates to vote for. found this article published in delco times.

    this house race even had psna contacting our district members as many doctors and nurses have repoted to district that incumbent 20yr veteran not supportive re healthcare legislation and they wanted my input in who to support.

    doctors really being hammered in pa with 200% increases in malpractice insurance: only two liability carriers in entire state. our representive needed much physican education to get on the bandwagon re malpractice reform in our state which he ultimately supported legislation.

    now if we would do this with our patients what would happen. love jt's idea of house signs. karen


    ---------------------------------------

    october 23, 02:35 et
    doctors tell patients how to vote

    by michael rubinkam
    associated press writer

    philadelphia (ap)-cardiologist richard schott has turned his suburban office into a virtual campaign headquarters.

    in the waiting room, heart patients can read a brochure touting democrat sara petrosky for the state house of representatives, then watch a videotape of her giving a speech. a receptionist discusses how skyrocketing malpractice insurance premiums have damaged the region's health care system. and in the exam room, dr. schott talks up petrosky's candidacy.

    the doctor-patient relationship has taken on a decidedly political tone this election season, as some physicians fed up with rising malpractice premiums and low reimbursement rates are breaking with tradition and telling patients how to vote nov. 5.

    rising malpractice premiums have figured prominently in several state elections, including in pennsylvania, where doctors say excessive jury awards are driving up insurance rates and forcing them to leave the state.

    president bush is focusing on the issue, too, saying he would create national limits on malpractice jury awards if republicans win control of the house and senate this november. legislation to cap damage awards passed the gop-controlled house last month, but faces an uncertain future in the democratic-led senate.

    doctors' groups have often opened their checkbooks for political campaigns. in washington state, those on either side of the malpractice debate have given upwards of $1 million to legislators' campaigns this year.

    but many doctors say the situation now is so dire that they have no choice but to get more directly involved-and that includes lobbying their patients on behalf of candidates.

    ``there's been a major concerted effort by physicians to utilize the power of the waiting room and the power of the examining room politically,'' schott said.

    schott said he doesn't initiate the conversations, but then again, he doesn't have to. after being bombarded with political messages in his office, many patients want to know more, he said.

    some doctors go even further, recommending candidates as automatically as they write prescriptions-whether the patient asks or not.

    ``times have changed. historically, doctors would not have done that, but as the liability insurance crisis gets worse, they realize they must make changes in our government,'' said charles moran, spokesman for the pennsylvania medical society.

    dr. michael raklewicz, a luzerne county orthopedist, tells patients that he might not be around next year if malpractice premiums continue to skyrocket. then he mentions his preferred candidates.

    ``doctors have been a political nonentity, but out of necessity they've had to get engaged in this process,'' raklewicz said. ``most of us here consider this a fight for our collective lives.''

    some of their efforts are raising eyebrows. dr. arthur caplan, a medical ethicist at the university of pennsylvania, believes the electioneering should stop at the exam room door.

    ``i support efforts to try to fix the (insurance) problem, but it's wrong and makes them less than professional to take it inside the examination room,'' caplan said. ``you don't want to make the patient feel coerced. you don't want to take the focus away from their medical care.''

    schott maintains the focus is always on his patients.

    ``when they get back to the examining room, my major thrust is taking care of the patient,'' he said. ``at the end of the session, i'll encourage them to vote and get out the message.''
    •  

close