Are Physicians’ Politics Shifting?

The NY Times ran an intriguing front-page story today on the shifting political views of our nation’s physicians. According to the Times, as doctors move from business owners in private practice to employees at hospitals and other healthcare institutions, their political views are shifting. While evidence of such a shift is highly anecdotal, it makes sense. Thirty years ago, physican groups such as the American Medical Association supported efforts to limit liability for medical malpractice and lower insurance premiums. Now, as physicians shift to employee status, their own priorities appear to be changing as well.
“It was a comfortable fit 30 years ago representing physicians and being an active Republican,” said Gordon H. Smith, executive vice president of the Maine Medical Association. “The fit is considerably less comfortable today.”
According to the Times, “But doctors in Maine have abandoned the ownership of practices en masse, and their politics and points of view have shifted dramatically. The Maine doctors’ group once opposed health insurance mandates because they increase costs to employers, but it now supports them, despite Republican opposition, because they help patients.”
If the article is correct, such a shift of focus would be welcome indeed. If physicans support quality healthcare and an improved patient experience, the industry could make strides in improving the quality of healthcare while reducing medical errors.