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Who's who in American shills

Or, you may already be Physician of the Year!

I see from today’s Daily Wildcat that two local doctors have received a prestigious award, Physician of the Year! According to the Wildcat,

Dr. Ronald Weinstein, professor and chair of the Pathology department at the UA College of Medicine, and Dr. Anna Graham, professor of Pathology at the College of Medicine, received the awards for their extensive work in Arizona health care and services.

Good for them. We should all be proud of their selfless dedication to sound medicine and health care services. More physicians should aspire to such heights.

Turns out, it’s not hard to get there. All it takes is cash. According to stories from ABC News and the American Medical Association, the Physician of the Year Award is less an honor than a fund-raising tactic used by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Okay, it’s entirely a fund-raising tactic. Recipients of the award don’t receive an honorarium; they pay the NRCC a thousand bucks for the privilege. In return, they get lunch, a handsome plaque and the chance to see the hon. Tom DeLay speak on the importance of (surprise) medical tort reform. But physicians shouldn’t expect their newfound Best Congressional Buddies to open up for a real forum on health care. From the ABC coverage:

Mueller said most of the talk at the sessions was about marketing, lawyers and taxes, and that he was met with silence when trying to raise the issue of the lack of affordable health insurance.

“This is the real crisis,” Mueller said he told the congressmen on one panel at the events. “Please, I am begging you.”

The congressmen said nothing and quickly called for a question from another Physician of the Year, Mueller said .

The NRCC gets to show off its auditorium full of hundreds of pro-reform doctors, all of whom can pay yet more to be an Honorary Chairman of the NRCC’s Physician Advisory Board and get the opportunity to have their name used in NRCC promotional materials. I hear that for an extra thousand bucks, doctors are elegible to receive a Extra Special limited-edition leatherbound directory of all of the year’s honorees, complete with a Certificate of Authenticity. No word yet on how much it costs to get one’s integrity back.