In 1992, a new president of the United States was elected, and physicians and patients suddenly had real cause to be alarmed. Healthcare reform was at the top of the administration’s agenda, and President Bill Clinton appointed his wife, Hillary, to be in charge of healthcare in America. She and her hand picked, unelected, 500-member committee soon came up with a 1200 page plan to socialize American medicine. Her plan gave the government complete bureaucratic control of every aspect of health care in the United States. Under her plan, the last remnants of the traditional physician/patient relationship were eliminated, free market medicine was prohibited by law, and nearly every page of her plan was replete with jail time for physicians who did not tow the socialist line. Surely the ghost of Karl Marx was smiling on this American scene.

Discontent blossomed into outrage. The American health insurance industry, which at that time covered most Americans, mobilized their forces and began a televised campaign to stop the “plan.”

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a small but vocal and effective national organization of physicians dedicated to freedom in medicine, decided to take the matter to federal court. After several years, the federal court ruled in favor of AAPS and sanctions were levied against the government. Little of this was made known to the public, so few people today know anything about this pyrrhic victory.

Back in Oklahoma, a small town solo family practitioner, Francis Davis, called for a meeting of American Physicians to be held in Dallas, Texas, in July 1994. Hundreds of physicians from all over the United States came to Dallas. Dr. Davis called for one hundred such meetings to be held over the next twelve months to protest the Hillary Plan. Our own Society for the Education of Physicians and Patients had already become organized and in response began immediately to plan its first “American Health Care Summit in Pittsburgh ’94,” in order to fulfill its part in the now nationwide effort to stop Hillary’s drive to socialize American medicine and destroy our noble profession.

Over the next ten years, SEPP sponsored six additional Summit type meetings, designed to educate physicians and patients about the disastrous effects of the socialization of medicine, to extol the virtues of traditional free market medicine, and to support and promote alternative ways to alleviate the burgeoning cost of healthcare. The new concept of medical savings accounts (now known as “Health Savings Accounts”) was promoted in every possible way (television, radio, billboards, and numerous regional public meetings). A speakers’ bureau was appointed and made available to local groups and organization. Twenty-one “Meet Your Legislator” evening sessions, open to the public, were held over a two year period.

Hillary’s Plan was soundly defeated. It never even came to a vote in Congress. The effort to replace good and effective traditional medicine with a socialist, bureaucratic system was put to rest, temporarily.

But as the forces of traditional medicine relaxed after the battle, the liberal forces reorganized and began a more subtle and incremental campaign to implement much of the original “Plan.”

Organized medicine had offered little help in this struggle. Its philosophy appeared to be spearheaded by concepts like “a half of a loaf is better than none,” and “compromise will gain us at least a seat at the table.” The AMA actually contracted with the government to form a monopoly in the new industry of providing physicians’ required government books on coding for diagnosis and treatment. This contract brings in millions of dollars annually to the AMA treasury.

And so it remained necessary for organizations like SEPP locally, and AAPS nationally, to continue in their efforts to protect and preserve freedom in medicine. Other like minded organizations have taken up the cause, by providing forums for the message of freedom. Greg Scandlen of “Consumers for Health Care Choices,” Sue Blevins, President of the Institute for Health Freedom, and Jane Orient, M.D., Executive Director of AAPS are some of the leading supporters of our fight for freedom in medicine under a free market, American system of health care.

In summary, the reason for SEPP’s formation, the very purpose of is existence is embodied in its mission statement.

“The Mission of the Society for the Education of Physicians and Patients is to promote the education of patients and health care professionals in order to facilitate unencumbered participation in a health care system that respects and nurtures patients and physicians’ freedoms, rights, and responsibilities. The Society focuses on the responsibility of the physician as patient advocate and promotes quality medical care by supporting policies that encourage freedom, choice, enhancement of the patient/physician relationship, and fiscal responsibility.”

Soon, another crucial election is approaching. Though socialized medicine has been failing, from a quality and economic standpoint, wherever it has been tried, cries for “universal healthcare” (the new name for government run socialized medicine) are now being heard from many directions.

Today, we truly find ourselves and our medical care system at a crossroads. There has never been a time with a more clearly defined issue which will determine the direction our country takes than the issue of medical care in the United States at this time.

Do we take the direction of a free market system that has given us the best medical care in the history of the world ~ the envy of every other country on this planet earth?

~ OR, do we deliver this system with the coercive, oppressive hands of bureaucratic, social engineers with their managed care, big government mentality?

~ OR, perhaps more succinctly stated, do we sell out to the socialists, OR do we opt for freedom?