Monday, September 7, 2009

An Open Letter to our U.S. Leaders

Dear U.S. Leaders,

I happened to be scanning through Yahoo news and stumbled across this dandy quote, which I’m referencing from the Kansas City article, although the quote itself appears in several hundred different places. (

The message lawmakers will hear when they return to Washington "will be very different than what they heard when August started," said Jacki Schechner of Health Care for America Now. One idea her group will stress, she said, is that the politically smart vote, even in toss-up districts, will support widespread changes meant to expand health insurance coverage and options.

The problem here once again and the point that is missed by those who speak this way is that the ultimate goal is to improve this healthcare system, not to do what is politically expedient. How about doing what’s right to fix the system instead of what will get you elected? This may actually be a better approach to running our country. I hate the distracting noise of political gain usurping governmental responsibility to its citizens.

To go on, I was more than perturbed by a recent interaction with a Republican congressman at a town hall event. If I heard the word “Obamacare” one more time followed by the usual politic-speak, I might not have been able to withhold screaming aloud about the divisiveness of politics as opposed to the unification of ideas. This particular congressman mentioned that he used to practice as a physician, but he spoke and acted like a politician. He politely asked my colleague and me to supply him with our data. The task of gathering the information, which has actually taken quite a bit of our personal lives, has simply come from having the wherewithal to ask if the current idea of increased government intervention in medicine has in other historical or current models achieved our goals of healthcare reform: increased quality, increased access and decreased cost. One would think that this type of thought process should be paramount to anything that is being considered in DC, yet it struck this congressman as so unique. And that should scare us all.

Whatever happened to the idea about looking at historical outcomes? And this congressman is a physician. I assume he went through his medical career following the principles of critical thinking and evidence-based approaches to treatment options. Why does he then not take the same approach to treating the ills of our healthcare system, the ills of our society? Do people become so politically indoctrinated that they cannot think in an independent, well-informed manner? He should have been directing his staff to find this information, and he should have been presenting this information rather than the usual empty rhetoric. Do you, Congressman, understand that when you are voted to represent the people, we count on you to actually educate yourself with information, not political ideology, when deciding whether you are going to cast a vote for us on topics that affect our lives and our future? It is our expectation and it is your job.

I see your failing in this duty as no different than choosing the wrong treatment choice for pneumonia or strep throat or cancer, choices that should be driven by evidence-based outcome information, not personal whims. So this is a call to action for those in power. We expect you all to be making decisions that work for our society, not decisions based on political ideologies. It is time to stop being a politician and start being a real contributor to this country’s future. Our expectations as Americans are raised, and it is time for our elected officials to become something more than politicians. We are now watching, and if you are not up to the task, then it is time to move aside so that true progress for our nation is not weighed down by you. I mean no disrespect, but remember, respect is earned, not bestowed with any title – Congressman, Senator or even President. It is time to earn our respect.

Respectfully submitted,

Brian E. Hill, MD


  1. Wow. Lots of research has gone into much of this site. Kudos.

    Can the two of you update your profile so we can all know your credentials? Thanks!

  2. Right on. Well said. Amen and amen.


Just 2 Docs welcomes and encourages comments that will advance the debate. We encourage references for all data used. Name calling, hate speech, insults, or abusive language will not be tolerated and those users will have their account terminated immediately. No anonymous comments are allowed for this reason.