Friday, March 21, 2014

Vivek Murthy for Surgeon General — NEJM

Much of the impetus for automobile safety came from physicians in the 1950's who sounded the alarm about the slaughter on the highways which they correctly saw as a public health issue.  The Surgeon General's 1964 report Smoking and Health was transformative. Today's nominee for Surgeon General intends to focus on obesity, as he said in his Senate testimony.  But since he supports conventional measures to reduce gun violence he is anathema on the right - and losing support among Senate Democrats in states infected with Second Amendmentism.  - GWC
Vivek Murthy for Surgeon General — NEJM:
by Gregory D. Curfman, M.D., Stephen Morrissey, Ph.D., Debra Malina, Ph.D., and Jeffrey M. Drazen, M.D
On February 27, a bipartisan group of senators on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved Murthy's nomination for surgeon general and forwarded it for a vote by the full Senate. But now, astonishingly, the nomination appears to be in jeopardy and may be delayed or withdrawn altogether. How could this have happened to such a distinguished and highly qualified nominee?
The answer lies with the National Rifle Association (NRA). It is of great concern to us and to many other members of the health care community that Murthy's nomination is in jeopardy because of NRA opposition. The NRA opposes Murthy solely on the grounds that he has advocated reasonable and mainstream forms of gun regulation, including an assault-weapons ban, a limit on ammunition sales, and required safety training. Given that there are more than 30,000 firearm deaths in the United States each year, Murthy's views on potential safeguards are unsurprising.
The critical question is this: Should a special-interest organization like the NRA have veto power over the appointment of the nation's top doctor? The very idea is unacceptable.
Despite the continuing American tragedy of mass shootings — Newtown, Aurora, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech — the NRA has redoubled its efforts to prevent enactment of stricter firearm regulations. Lawmakers who run afoul of the NRA face political retribution. By obstructing the President's nomination of Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, the NRA is taking its single-issue political blackmail to a new level. With the record of past surgeons general as their guide, senators should do what is right for the health of our country by confronting the NRA and voting their own conscience. Dr. Murthy is an accomplished physician, policymaker, leader, and entrepreneur. He deserves the President's continued backing and should be confirmed.

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