- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A new national study that surveyed 1,477 physicians found that doctors have become less concerned about the impact of the H1N1 swine flu virus on themselves and their families.

Only 10 percent of physicians reported that they were “concerned” or “extremely concerned” about the swine flu, in a survey conducted by HCD Research and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion between April 27 and May 6. A similar poll conducted a week earlier showed that 21 percent of physicians had a similar level of concern.

Physicians also reported in the latest poll that there is less risk that the virus will result in a catastrophic pandemic compared with in the previous week. The surveys also show that doctors increasingly feel the federal government is more prepared to handle an epidemic.

The survey will be conducted on a weekly basis to measure physicians’ perceptions regarding their personal and professional concerns. To view detailed results, go to www.hcdi.net or www.mediacurves.com.

On Capitol Hill

The Senate Finance Committee, which is taking the lead in drafting a health care reform bill, was to hold on Tuesday morning its third and final public roundtable workshop on the issue.

The workshop will focus on how to pay for President Obama’s proposed $1 trillion-plus overhaul of the nation’s health care system. Academics, think tank specialists, tax experts, union representatives and others have been invited.

Previously, roundtables focused on expanding health care coverage to all Americans.

Also on Tuesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee will hold a hearing to consider the roles of primary and specialty care doctors in a revamped health care system.

Office reform

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Monday that a new office has been created within the department to spearhead efforts to pass health care reforms. The department’s Office of Health Reform will work closely with the both Congress and the White House Office of Health Reform.

“The skyrocketing cost of health care is crushing families and businesses, and we must enact health reform this year,” Mrs. Sebelius said. “The HHS Office of Health Reform and the White House Office of Health Reform will work in tandem to advance legislation and take immediate actions to cut costs, assure quality and affordable health care for all Americans and guarantee Americans can choose their doctor and their health plan.”

Jeanne Lambrew, who worked on health policy in the Clinton administration, will head the new office. She has served as an associate professor at the University of Texas’ Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

“MASH” star pushes for single-payer plan

A liberal health care advocacy group pushing for a government takeover of the health insurance industry has launched an ad campaign featuring actor Mike Farrell, best known as Dr. B.J. Hunnicut on the “MASH” television series.

HealthJustice has produced five ads for a series titled, “Don’t Sell Us Short, Mr. President.” The ads, which began running this month, are airing on CNN, MSNBC, BET and other networks.

The ads are coordinated with a nationwide telephone, e-mail and fax campaign to Congress and the White House to push for a Medicare-style single-payer health care system. As of Friday, the coordinated campaigns had delivered more than 25,000 faxes, 2,000 voice-mail or live phone messages and thousands of e-mails to Congress and the White House, the group says.

The president and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus have said that a single-payer option won’t be considered — angering many on the left.

Nurses rally

Hundreds of nurses from across the country are expected to rally in Washington on Wednesday in support of the Obama administration’s health care reform. The event, which coincides with National Nurses Week, will focus on building support for mandated maximum nurse-to-patient ratios.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, recently proposed a bill to guarantee a safe ratio of nurses to patients in American hospitals. Nurses and other supporters say the bill, which is modeled on a California’s law, would end a common hospital industry practice of overloading registered nurses with too many patients.

The rally, starting at 12:30 p.m. next to the Capitol, is sponsored by the California Nurses Association, United American Nurses and other nurses groups.

Sean Lengell covers health care policy and can be reached at [email protected]

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