Washington State Single Payer Intiative

John G. Gollhofer, MD
Article Type: 
May/June 2000
Volume Number: 
Issue Number: 

Dear Dr. Orient,
The March/April 2000 issue of Medical Sentinel includes a response from you to a letter from Dr. Philip Ranheim, Everett, WA, that is factually incorrect.

You state that Dr. Ranheim and his colleagues in Washington State are "about to undertake a new such experiment (referring to government-run health care or socialized medicine) with the approval of the Washington State Medical Associa-tion." This is not true. A ballot initiative to create a single payer health care plan has been filed in this state. Proponents of this initiative urged the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) to endorse the initiative last fall at our annual meeting. This was not done.

In November, at the direction of our House of Delegates, the association reviewed the draft initiative. To quote our subsequent letter to the initiative campaign:

"Comments received thus far have been universally negativeThe reaction has been that this is an ill conceived, poorly written initiativeThe initiative reinforces the appearance that the equation at work is that the citizenry are infantilized and the providers are criminalized."

It is no small irony that both you and the initiative campaign have incorrectly represented our position on this issue. As I stated in my letter to the campaign, I feel that we should not hold the AAPS to a lower standard than the initiative campaign.

Physicians in Washington State are exceedingly frustrated with the current market chaos and managed care mess. In response, some have decided to support a single payer approach. Others have concluded that the only proper way to resolve the current conundrum is to return to a time when there was no third-party interference in any way with the physician-patient relationship. Both sides can make valid arguments to support their positions. Both sides can get lost in their ideologies, as well. What we need is reasoned discourse. Members of the WSMA who also belong to the AAPS are contributing to this discourse. We hope you do, too.

By the way, you and your readers might find it interesting (and no surprise) that a series of seminars the WSMA is presenting across the state on how to practice medicine by opting out of relationships with insurance companies is enjoying an outstanding response.

AAPS publishes a fine journal. Clearing up this misunderstanding will only add to its luster.

John G. Gollhofer, MD
President, WSMA


Dear Dr. Gollhofer,
Thanks for your letter. I am glad to hear that WSMA is not going to endorse the single payer initiative; I hope that you will oppose it strenuously. I am very sorry that I made a statement to the contrary. In November 1999, when I dictated a letter responding directly to Dr. Ranheim, I had been told by a Washington member that WSMA was considering an endorsement; no information about the outcome was available at that time. My apologies are in order. This was simply an error; I had no intention of misrepresenting the WSMA position.

Jane M. Orient, MD
Executive Director, AAPS

Correspondence originally published in the Medical Sentinel 2000;5(3);73-77. Copyright©2000 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).

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