Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Dodged a bullet

If someone calls you on the phone from out of the blue saying they are calling from the NRCC and Congressman Tom Reynolds' office and they ask you if you would like to be part of the Physician's Advisory Board, do not pass Go, do not give them your credit card number, and hang up immediately.

Someone did that to me last week, and I was, like, who are you? and why are you calling me?

He only got as far as explaining that the NRCC was the National Republican Congressional Committee. I said thanks anyways, but I'm a Democrat.

After hanging up, I was curious. Who were these guys? How did they get my name? A quick Google search confirmed my suspicions. I should have been paying more attention to the medical blogosphere back in April.

From ABC News:
The good news reached the Jamestown, N.Y., office of Dr. Rudolph Mueller in a fax from a congressman in Washington. Mueller had been named 2004 Physician of the Year.

"My secretary came running in and said, 'Dr. Rudy, look at what you've won, you're Physician of the Year,' " said Mueller, an internist.

But to receive the award in person at a special two-day workshop in Washington last month, Mueller found out that he would have to make a $1,250 contribution to the National Republican Congressional Committee. It was a disturbing discovery, he said.

"To actually buy your award and it's not from your peers or from your patients or from the community that you serve, it's really deceptive," said Mueller, author of "As Sick As It Gets: The Shocking Reality of America's Healthcare, A Diagnosis and Treatment Plan." "It's not being honest, it's just not right."
Mueller soon found he was not the only winner. There were hundreds of Physicians of the Year present, many of whom found the criteria for being selected equally as opaque.

"You know, nobody knows, so don't feel bad about it," Mueller said one attendee told him.
It's like the old diploma mills," said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a government watchdog group. "It's the kind of scam that we've seen congressional investigations look at when they take place in the private sector. But here, since members of Congress are doing it, we're not going to see any investigation."
Wertheimer warned that the award was misleading and that they should add the award was given "because I paid for this certificate, not for anything else that happened."

A Republican spokesman said there were thousands of doctors around the country content with their Physicians of the Year awards, and that there was nothing about the program to apologize for.

Unfortunately, there are some physicians who seem to agree. Someone's even keeping track.