Doctors Split on Presidential Candidates

A survey by the Texas Medical Association indicates Texas doctors are just like the rest of the country on the issue of who should be elected President. They're split almost down the middle, and health care reform is the dividing issue. Jim Bell reports.

The unscientific opinion poll taken online shows 51 percent of Texas doctors responding prefer Republicans McCain and Palin, while about 42 percent prefer Democrats Obama and Biden, and Obama's health care reform proposals are the lightning rod issue.  Most respondents on both sides say Obama's proposals are the reason they would or would not vote for him.  Dr. Roland Goertz of Waco is on the board of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He says both candidates want health care to be more affordable and available to more people, but they don't agree on how to accomplish that.

"Obama's plan relies upon expansion of some existing governmental plans to a larger degree than McCain's plan does, and McCain's plan relies upon a private insurance model that's part of something called a guaranteed access plan. That's the major difference."

Dr. Jim Rohack of Temple is President-Elect of the American Medical Association, and he says it's a disgrace that 40 to 50 million people in this country have no health insurance. He says both candidates want more people to have coverage, especially children, because they both know how important it is to the country's economic future.  

"The uninsured child, especially if they have a chronic illness, is a high risk to not graduate from high school. Certainly may not graduate from college. And as a result it's going to be difficult for that individual to provide the work needed to produce the Medicare taxes to fund the baby boomers."

Rohack says they differ on how to do it, but they agree that without a healthy workforce, the United States can't compete in the global economy. Rohack and Goertz both say no matter who's elected President, Congress will have the final say on how health care is reformed, and they think Congress is ready to get moving on it.

"Clearly, Congress is gonna have to get engaged in this tremendously to make something effectively work.  I think there's enough legislators now that understand that something has to be done."

Doctors Rohack and Goertz were interviewed recently by the Texas Medical Association.   

Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.