1. Why is being an advocate so important to you?
I've been interested in health policy since I wrote my college senior thesis on American health policy in 1972. It's always been my belief that, and consistent with the ethical principle of Justice, that ALL people should be entitled to equal access to health care. Millions of people do not have that access. They may lack insurance or they may be inhibited to access timely health care due to high deductibles and/or co-insurance. We also have a health care system that over treats and over diagnoses. The result is a health care system that spends twice as much as other developed countries on average, has the worst health metrics of all those developed countries, and has declining longevity. Doctors, who were central to the health care system when I started practice are demoralized and leaving the profession in droves. My hope is that doctors will work together in the future to change these sad realities of American medicine.
2. What health-care related issue(s) have you advocated for over the past year?
My most important work this past year: empowering patients' choices concerning their health care in their later years by spreading access and education about POLST (Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment); working to educate our staff and our patients about optimal end of life care; writing an article for the StarTribune emphasizing the importance of reducing unnecessary medical expenditures by using the guide of medical evidence; and optimizing care for our seniors through restoration of a division of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Minnesota.
3. What advice would you offer to others who are interested in advocacy?
For those of you that are interested in a Just health care system that treats ALL patients with compassion: Please speak up. Find allies within your healthcare organization, seek out groups of like minded colleagues. Join the MMA and help shape and drive our health care in a better direction. Join a committee within your organization or within the MMA that seeks to collaborate with you.