The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is engaged in a misleading campaign to trick physicians into opposing health care reform. The Wonk Room has learned that the Committee has been placing calls and sending “hand-written” faxes to physicians across the country to ostensibly recognize physicians for their “invaluable experience” and ask recipients to call a toll-free number and approve a press release “to honor the achievements of you and other concerned physicians like you.”
The missive invites doctors to “represent” their state “as a consultant on Rep. Tom Price’s (R-GA) ‘Physicians’ Council for Responsible Reform,’” but a call to the “Council” suggests that the NRCC’s real goal is to scare physicians and add legitimacy to Republican efforts to stall reform. (Download a copy of the letter HERE).
According to one account provided to the Wonk Room, once a physician dials the number at the bottom of the fax, a staffer who identifies herself as a “someone who works for Congressman Price” answers the phone and informs the caller that her name was on a list “of leaders” “compiled” by Rep. Price. The staffer stresses that the doctor has been selected to serve as a “senior adviser” on the Council and that her input is “vital” to the reform process.
But rather than seeking “critical input” or “guidance” from doctors “who are respected by their peers”, the staffer– who at no point asks the doctor for her views on health care reform — plays a message from Price warning about the “very real threat of Washington interfering even more with doctor’s efforts to provide the best possible care for their patients.” (Listen to a recording of Price’s message HERE). Then, the operator explains, what the physicians on the Council have already agreed to:
CALLER: What do you stand for?
OPERATOR: Well, the thing is, we want, I think what we want is a free market type thing. You know, fine, you know, if we can upgrade Medicare or something so that those that aren’t covered will be covered, but we think what they’re proposing now can really be deleterious to patients and their doctors and we’re afraid that a lot of people will be left uncovered or waiting in line to get appointments or procedures or anything like that. We don’t want to end up being like England or what Canada has.
Listen to the call:
Before ending the call, the operator explains that the call was “paid for by the NRCC” and directs the caller to the organization’s website, “NRCC.org” where “there are some issues on there that talk about the socialized medicine.” After the caller asks for the Council’s website, the operator explains, “it’s physicianscouncil.org, there is not a whole lot on there yet, we are just starting it. Something brand new for us, which is why we don’t have a whole lot of details for you.”