Politics: Physicians favor McCain's health-care plan in online social networking poll

October 24, 2008

More physicians who responded to a late October poll on a social networking web site for doctors appear to favor presidential candidate Senator John McCain's (R-Arizona) stance on health care issues such as government regulation and the shortage of primary care physicians, while his opponent Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) drew a more negative reaction.

More physicians who responded to a late October poll on a social networking web site for doctors appear to favor presidential candidate Senator John McCain’s (R-Arizona) stance on health care issues such as government regulation and the shortage of primary care physicians, while his opponent Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) drew a more negative reaction.

Each candidate responded to questions submitted and voted on by members of Sermo.com, which reportedly has 90,000 physicians enrolled in the private, doctors-only web site where professional and personal issues can be discussed in anonymity with peers. The questions were inspired by an open letter from Sermo members to the public, which is available here: http://www.sermo.com/unite. The candidates’ responses were posted on the site.

More than 30 percent of polled physicians said the health-care policy answers would change their vote from the candidate they previously supported and 23 percent of those who read Obama’s answers said they were now influenced in favor of McCain, while 10 percent of those who responded to McCain’s said they moved toward Obama.

Additional results from the nearly 1,000 polled physicians showed:

- 51 percent believe Obama’s plan is not beneficial to the country while 31 percent believe McCain’s plan is not beneficial; 30 percent believe Obama’s plan is beneficial vs. 44 percent who feel McCain’s plan is beneficial

- 42 percent believe that Obama’s plan is not beneficial to patients while 32 percent feel McCain’s is not beneficial; 33 percent believe Obama’s is beneficial to patients vs. 42 percent who feel McCain’s plan is beneficial.

Despite the poll results, the online discussion among doctors on Sermo indicates that neither candidate in their responses adequately addressed primary care doctors’ concerns, perhaps best summed up by this comment posted by a doctor:

“While they recognize the cost for care in this country is great, they do not seem to understand that physicians are better at practicing medicine than they are at financing it. The high-paying physician subspecialties hire their own lobbyists to keep their pay where it is, while the PCP / FP / IM / Ped physicians are woefully under-compensated (and generally do not have enough money to hire their own lobbyists). They do not recognize that cognitive services are greatly undervalued.... Health care plans are too complex for the average person to figure out. ... There are a great many physicians who do treatments for [payment] without a demonstrated need to the patient, and reform needs to come from within the medical community for this.”