The following letter was sent to the White House on Feb. 9, two days after President Obama announced his plans to convene a bipartisan summit on health reform on Feb. 25 in Washington.
February 9, 2010
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of 17,000 doctors who support single-payer national health insurance, respectfully requests that you invite one or more of our representatives to participate in your White House health care session on Feb. 25.
We note that in your call for the meeting you urged Republicans, Democrats and health policy experts to gather, go over all the options and “walk through them in a methodical way so that the American people can see and compare what makes the most sense.”
We would like to offer several of our members as health policy experts for this important task.
As you may know, two key research studies that helped drive the health reform process forward this past year – one in the American Journal of Public Health that found 45,000 deaths annually are linked to lack of health insurance, another in the American Journal of Medicine that found 62 percent of personal bankruptcies are linked to medical bills and illness – were the work product of Harvard Medical School research teams guided by PNHP co-founders Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler.
Drs. Himmelstein and Woolhandler, who are also primary-care physicians in Cambridge, Mass., have had several other groundbreaking studies published in our nation’s leading medical journals, including one in the New England Journal of Medicine that shows administrative costs consume 31 percent of U.S. health spending, most of it unnecessary. They have also frequently testified before Congress on their research. We urge that you invite them to participate in the Feb. 25 meeting.
The presence of Dr. Margaret Flowers, our congressional fellow, would also enhance the meeting. Dr. Flowers, a Maryland pediatrician, has met with numerous members of Congress and testified before two congressional committees last year about the urgent need for single-payer health reform.
Finally, we ask that you invite our president, Dr. Oliver Fein, to participate. Dr. Fein, an internist and professor of clinical medicine and clinical public health in New York City, attended the March 5 White House Summit on health care. He is a past vice president of the American Public Health Association.
Detailed biographies and contact information for each of these doctors are available upon request. Please feel free to call me (312-782-6006) or e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) should you need any additional information.
Ida Hellander, M.D.