Volume 24 • No. 1 • January 2000

Bauer appointed to reconfigured vice president's post;
dean sought

Doctors can help spur health legislation,
says Eshoo

Facilities upgrade planned for medical school facilities

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo chats with Medical Staff President Martin I. Bronk before talking with the Deputy Chiefs/Medical Staff Task Force.
Doctors Can Help Spur Health Legislation, says Eshoo

Physicians at Stanford can speak out to facilitate changes in health care legislation even in an election year when sweeping reform is highly unlikely, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, D-California, told a special meeting of the Deputy Chiefs/Medical Staff Task Force on Dec. 15.

"Suffice it to say that in a presidential election year, Congress doesn't do much heavy lifting," so any health care legislation that might result will be limited to specific items - "cures or fixes," said Eshoo, whose 14th Congressional District includes Stanford University Medical Center.

Medicare drug benefits won't "happen legislatively next year [2000], but I do think it will be a huge, huge issue in the presidential campaign," the congresswoman predicted.

Eshoo said lobbying on behalf of Medicare legislation by individual physicians and associations was instrumental in "the restoration of billions of dollars to teaching hospitals. Whom do I credit? Doctors who came to the authors [of the legislation] not once but over and over again. You did a very, very good job of impressing on them that the cuts were just too deep; the cuts would have a real effect on day-in, day-out patient needs that weren't going to be met" without more money.

"I know what I have to do inside Congress" to accomplish legislative goals, but these won't be realized without public support, expertise and leadership.

"I need 217 other members of the House to agree with me in order to pass a bill," said Eshoo. But even a majority of supporters doesn't ensure results. She

noted that she has 273 co-sponsors for legislation that would pay for breast and cervical cancer treatments for uninsured women, but congressional leadership is resistant and won't allow the bill go to the floor. "So I will tell them, 'your constituency wants this,' " said Eshoo. They need to know they will be rewarded electorally, she added.

Eshoo credited Gary Glazer, professor and chair of radiology, and Herbert Abrams, professor of radiology, whose visits to lawmakers, she said, spurred legislation directing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to review the feasibility of creating an Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Engineering.

"Never underestimate the credibility of this place [Stanford]," she said, explaining that it's helpful to invoke the opinions of Stanford faculty or other experts when presenting an issue.

Nevertheless, physicians who wish to make their needs and the needs of their patients known face a formidable challenge. "I think that a few years ago people thought that the most powerful lobbyists in Congress were lawyers, or many people think doctors are the most powerful lobby.

I think the insurance companies and the NRA, the National Rifle Association," are the most powerful, said Eshoo. "I have seen firsthand what they are able to do."

Eshoo was elected to the House of Representatives in 1992 and currently serves as a member of the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. Earlier, she served on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and was a board member of San Mateo County Hospital.

Back to Top