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July 5, 2000

Political Solicitation of Physicians

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2000;284(1):41. doi:10.1001/jama.284.1.39

To the Editor: I wish to alert my colleagues of a solicitation they may be receiving that seems to signal new depths in the health care debate.

I recently received a telephone call from a person in the office of a prominent congressman, notifying me that I had been nominated to a national congressional advisory board. There was a recorded message from the congressman himself saying how important this issue was and how he shared physicians' concerns with interference from health maintenance organizations and with declining physician reimbursement. By this time I was feeling quite sympathetic.

I was very interested in serving as an adviser to the government on the solutions to these problems, but wanted to know what sort of time commitment I would be making. Remarkably, I was told that no time commitment would be necessary. I would simply be listed in a full-page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal as the state chairperson of the advisory board. In return, it was suggested that I might wish to contribute "perhaps" $300. Our conversation ended when I stated that this would suggest that I was in agreement with the congressman regarding his solutions to the health care problem, and that perhaps more discussion of these problems would be necessary before I could agree to make a contribution.

I wish to alert other physicians to this situation, so that members of our profession will not sell their names in the support (but not the actual advising) of sectors of our government.