Physicians committed to resisting the Truman Administration’s attempt to socialize medicine formed AAPS in 1943. The government of the United States had grown by leaps and bounds as the populace yielded various and sundry freedoms to ensure the government could fight and win in World War II. Few recognized that those freedoms would never be returned. Few recognized that, indeed, war is the health of the state. The course was set for ever-expanding loss of freedom and bureaucratic bloat.
The physicians of AAPS were successful against the first attempt by the government to socialize medicine; the freedom of the patient-physician relationship remained essentially intact. However, with wage and price controls leading to the concept of medical care benefits and third-party payers, the groundwork had been laid for future attempts at socializing medicine. The Johnson administration, riding on the 20-year crest of the spectacular win the United States accomplished in World War II and a nation bereaved by the tragic loss of their young and handsome president, John F. Kennedy, set the stage to expand this perceived glorious and righteous government into socializing medical care for the elderly, the poor, and the disabled.
It always seemed odd to me that a nation founded on principles of personal freedom and individual responsibility, the antithesis of socialism — a nation which had successfully waged war against the socialist nation of Germany, the monarchical socialist nation of Japan, and in 1964, was locked in the cold war against the massive socialist empires of the Soviet Union and China — would adopt the same socialist policies of its former and present enemies — i.e., enlarging the role of government in the lives of its citizens through Medicare and Medicaid.
AAPS continued steadfastly in its support of free market medicine as the government continued to expand, preparing the minds of the young through the public school system to receive and accept ever greater government intrusion into everyone’s life, therefore, advancing the march of socialism throughout the United States. Practicing medicine according to the Oath of Hippocrates, AAPS physicians faithfully placed the patient first in all considerations, recognizing and promulgating the pristine concept of freedom in all areas of life, embracing the sound moral principles of Austrian free market economics, the Foundation for Economic Education, the CATO Institute, and many other organizations promoting freedom with responsibility.
Once Medicare and Medicaid were established, the country had entered onto the slippery slope of socialized medicine. The promulgation of managed care during the Nixon administration, DRGs during the Reagan administration, RBRVS during the Bush administration, and subsequently, the Clinton administration’s attempt to fully socialized the entire medical care delivery system completed the folly. Through the valiant efforts of AAPS in pursuing the government to expose Clinton’s true goals of completed socialized medicine (AAPS v. Clinton), and its support of Stewart v. Sullivan to establish the rights of patients and physicians to freely contract outside the socialized Medicare system the rush to disaster was slowed.
So, where are we today at this moment? We are in an important position in the history of this country for physicians and associate members of AAPS to continue to educate themselves, their friends, family, patients, and yes, government officials and bureaucrats (wherein possible) in the sure and certain failure of socialism in all areas of our lives and to recruit both associate and physician members into the AAPS fold. It is clear that we are increasingly being faced with a Republican form of socialized medicine, a Democratic form of socialized medicine or, indeed, a combination of the two.
It will become increasingly evident over the months and years ahead that, indeed, AAPS is the best friend patients and physicians have. All of us will be patients sooner or later. We must not tarry. AAPS must grow and expand rapidly to resist the Black Death of socialized medicine and become a powerful force to be reckoned with. How about AAPS physician members providing an associate membership for $95 per year to each of their employees as a benefit of employment? Associate membership forms could be conspicuously located for patients in reception areas along with brochures identifying the AAPS — who we are and what we stand for.
Dr. Goltry is the President of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, and an Otolaryngologist in Boise, Idaho. His address is Imperial Plaza, 200 North Third Street, Suite 203, Boise, ID 83702.
Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 1998;3(1):9. Copyright © 1998 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).