Dr. Ben Carson Recognized by Peers for Freedom-Based Health Advocacy.

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Physician leaders dedicated to freedom came together on November 16th to unveil better ideas for health system reform and to recognize an emerging American leader: Dr. Benjamin Carson. The group Doctors for Patient Freedom were gathered in Washington D.C. for the AMA meeting and presented the “Ed Annis Medical Freedom award” to Dr. Carson.  At the awards dinner, the doctors discussed ideas for better health system reform that generally centered on empowering patients, disempowering insurance companies and government and ensuring the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship. Dr. Benjamin Carson is the Pediatric Neurosurgeon who drew national attention for his speech in the presence of President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2013.

Doctors for Patient Freedom is composed of physician leaders from across the country who have represented their state and specialty societies at the AMA for many years The meeting was not an official AMA event but is organized by these key leaders in the AMA’s House of Delegates. Dr. David McKalip, a co-founder of the group and a neurosurgeon from Florida stated: “We want to thank Dr. Carson for his courage in reaching out directly to patients to let them know there are far better ways to achieve high quality, lower cost health care than a large government program”.   Congressman Tom Price (R-GA), a 2009 recipient of the award, introduced Dr. Carson and presented the award. 

At the National Prayer Breakfast in February, Dr. Carson offered the following for better health system reform at the National Prayer Breakfast: “Here’s my solution. When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record and a health savings account, to which money can be contributed, pre-tax from the time you are born, to the time you die.”  He further observed: “When you die, you can pass it on to your family members so that when you’re 85 years old and you’ve got 6 diseases, you’re not trying to spend up everything. You’re happy to pass it on and nobody is talking about death panels.”

Ed Annis, M.D. was the President of the American Medical Association in 1963. He spoke before an empty Madison Square Garden in 1962 after President Kennedy appeared to support the first attempt to pass a nationalized health insurance plan for Senior Citizens (Medicare).  He and the AMA stopped that plan because they knew it would “serve as a forerunner of a different kind of healthcare” that would harm patients with rationing and government interference in the patient-physician relationship. All of their predictions came true.  As a result of conversations with the AMA and Dr. Annis, President Kennedy put away his prepared remarks for his Madison Square Garden appearance, and gave what many said was the worst speech of his political career. He did not say one word in support of the first attempt at Medicare, and said not one word against the AMA position.  It took the crime of the Century (the Assassination of President Kennedy) to allow President Johnson to inappropriately trade on the image of the “Martyred President” to pass a Medicare program that Kennedy himself did not support. His landmark Book “Code Blue” exposed the many problems with government and corporate control of medical practice and abuse of the tort system in 1993. Dr. Annis attended every AMA meeting from 1962 until his death in 2009 at the age of 96.

“This Bill (King Anderson Bill) would put the government smack into your hospitals! Defining services, setting standards, establishing committees, calling for reports, deciding who gets in and who gets out-what they get and what they don’t-even getting into the teaching of medicine-and all the time imposing a federally administered financial budget on our houses of mercy and healing. It will create an unpredictable burden on every working taxpayer. It will undercut and destroy the wholesome growth of private voluntary insurance and prepayment health plans for the aged which offer flexible benefits in the full range of individual needs. It will lower the quality and availability of hospital services throughout our country. It will stand between patients and their doctors. And it will serve as the forerunner of a different system of medicine for all Americans.”  Dr. Edward Annis, Madison Square Garden,1962.

Other Award recipients include Dr. Past AMA Presidents Donald Palmisano, M.D., Daniel H. “Stormy” Johnson, Jr. M.D.  (2007), and  William Plested, III, M.D. (2008) , health policy expert Greg Scandlen (2008), Chair of the Georgia Delegation to the AMA  Joseph Bailey, M.D., and Representative Tom Price, M.D. , and Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (2009).  

At the awards dinner, several videos were shown of Dr. Annis in a speech he gave in 2007 along with excerpts from his remarks to the nation in 1962. These have been uploaded to YouTube and are available under the following titles:

 Dr. Ed Annis – Freedom Fighter
Dr. Ed Annis – The State of Health Care Financing 2007
Dr. Ed Annis – State of the Nation; A Long War
Dr. Ed Annis – Meeting with President Kennedy; Speech at Madison Square Garden
Dr. Ed Annis-  A Charge to Future Physicians