Unfortunate Diversion from Health Reform Message

It was unfortunate that President Obama answered the question about Professor Gates at his news conference last night because it has dramatically diluted the focus of his message from health care reform to this unrelated story.  Many news organizations are covering his remarks on that one subject with less recognition of his health care reform message.  While the Washington Post and NY Times lead with the health message, they also include articles about the Professor Gates.  Conversely, the Boston Globe (not surprisingly) and CNN.com highlight the Professor Gates story over healthcare.  (MSNBC.com and cbsnew.com have health reform coverage more prominently that the Professor Gates story, while abcnews.com and foxnews.com have Gates>health reform.)

Since the need for speed on moving health reform legislation through Congress was a large point the President was trying to make, this diversion has greatly diluted that message and shows how difficult and delicate message delivery can be about contentious issues – and how easily the media’s focus can be shifted from what you want to something else.  For example, I once had a series of media interviews about advances in treating heart diseases swept aside in a local area by coverage of the gangland style murder of the owner of a popular local fast food chain.

So while all the possible stories the media may cover can’t be controlled, keeping focused on the top health reform messages will be key for continuing to move legislation through the Congressional process.

2 thoughts on “Unfortunate Diversion from Health Reform Message


    Today, as Congress returns to session all 100 Senators will be listening to physicians on SERMO when they deliver the “US Physician’s Appeal” on Capitol Hill. Wasting no time, me and my physician colleagues, armed with the over 10,000 signatures will deliver the Appeal directly to lawmakers, requesting them to include us in national health reform strategy.

    We are pledging our commitment to true healthcare reform focused on the real sources of spiraling, bureaucratic costs and by doing this on day one of Congress’ return, we are telling them that true healthcare reform will only succeed IF:

    1. Tort and malpractice laws are reformed; 2. Billing is streamlined and pricing made transparent, ending systemic support of the AMA owned billing codes (CPT Codes);
    3. The insurance industry is reformed; and 4. Payment systems are simplified so they align with the growing need for preventive medicine.

    US physicians have a unique perspective on the systemic changes needed because we are on the forefront of care every day-in between patients, hospitals, Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance companies. Physicians more than any stakeholder group understand the need for pragmatic reform, not politically negotiated reform and we must be included for solutions to work.

    With the Appeal, the SERMO community is seeking participation from every member of the US Senate to work with us to bridge a communication gap dominated by the influence of special interest groups; inviting policy makers to engage directly with us by posting questions, discussion topics and blog entries directly into the largest physicians-only online network, in an electronic online forum to discuss ideas and developments in the healthcare reform debate, in real time.

    Today, in Washington, we’ll formally deliver the “US Physician’s Appeal” for lawmaker’s consideration to all 100 Senator’s offices. If you can’t be there, find us online at http://www.sermo.com/reform where you can sign the appeal; and then make your opinion known by getting in touch with your Senators by visiting http://www.senate.gov and click on “Senators”.

    We have strength in numbers and if the physician voice is loud enough, it will be heard.

    Dr. Daniel Palestrant is the CEO of SERMO and was recently named one of the country’s “50 Most Powerful Physicians” by Modern Physician, and Business Week has named SERMO as one of the “Top 50 Tech Startups” globally. SERMO is where over 110,000 physicians are leveraging the power of social media to drive better patient care and have their voices heard.

  2. Of course that presumes that you want health care legislation to proceed at warp speed. Perhaps the Gates event was fortunate. Perhaps we should slow down the train, take the time to examine what is in the congressional bills. Allow these items to see the light of day, debate them fully and understand what a majority of the citizens of this country want. Then perhaps Congress should respond to American’s customer requirements.

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