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February 2008

 
Letters
 
 

Ultimate Advocacy 

Right now is an opportune time to be proactive and participate in the legislative process. At both the Republican and Democratic conventions this election year, there are more than 2,000 delegates and 2,000 alternate delegates in attendance. Most of these are elected positions, as each congressional district is allowed to have three delegates and three alternate delegates elected for each convention.

Imagine the political input regarding medicine—and particularly the sustainable growth rate—that we can have if physicians fill some of these positions. If you run, statistically, there is a 33 to 50 percent chance you will be elected. Also, your position on the ballot is determined by random draw. If you receive the first position, you will have a significant chance of winning.

The time expenditure is relatively small, as well. You need to go to four screening meetings and one final endorsement meeting to introduce yourself and, hopefully, gain endorsement from your party of choice. If you are not endorsed, you can run independently. And if you are fortunate enough to obtain a No. 1 ballot position, you will most likely win without an endorsement. You will, however, need a certain number of signatures to place your name on the ballot. Our patients are our source of signatures. Your time commitment will be one week for the duration of the convention.

These meetings are quite valuable since the candidates for each district, such as congressperson, state senator, state representative, committee members, etc., are in attendance. With familiarity, we will have more input and credibility with our elected officials.

To run, you do not need much campaign funding, name recognition or a litany of credentials. All you need is American citizenship and the willingness to run for the least contested office in any election.

For anyone wishing to participate in this process, it must be done soon, normally weeks before the primary in order to attend the meetings and to be placed on the ballot.

For more information, please contact David S. C. Pao, MD: 1018 Street Road, Southampton, PA 18966. Dr. Pao can also be reached via e-mail at davidscpao@comcast.net .

Peter J. Witted, MD, JD
Chairman of the Academy’s
Congressional Advocacy Committee
Omaha, Neb.
and
David S. C. Pao, MD
Member of the Academy’s
Congressional Advocacy Committee
Southampton, Penn.

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Nanotechnology Meets Neurobiology 

The recent story “Ophthalmology on the Nanofrontier” was fascinating (Feature, November/ December).

In the last decade, the number of serious programs working on a visual neuro-prosthetic device has increased from under 10 to just under 40. These programs involve almost 160 academic departments, research laboratories, corporations and government units in at least 19 countries.

While at one time the idea of a visual neuroprosthetic device was considered “Stars Wars” dreaming, there is every reason now to believe that some day, perhaps soon, there will be devices to be placed within the eye or the brain of many persons now blind or severely visually impaired to afford some level of useful vision.

Virtually all of these initiatives will be present in June at the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology’s 5th Biennial World Congress on Artificial Vision, “The Eye and the Chip.” Human results will be presented by programs from several countries. Further information on this event can be found at www.eyeson.org.

Philip C. Hessburg, MD
President, Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology
Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.

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A Surgeon’s Content 

I feel compelled to respond to Dr. Hagan’s “An Ex-Surgeon’s Discontent” (Letters, June) decrying the devaluation of ophthalmic surgery. I began my career in general ophthalmology in 1993 shortly after cataract surgery reimbursements began their decline from a high of $2,400 per case. Phacoemulsification was just supplanting extracapsular cataract extraction, and both operative time and operative complications would soon be cut in half.

While I realize that, at $650 per case, the seven to nine cases I perform at our local hospital every Monday won’t make me rich, I certainly can’t complain when at 1 p.m. I walk out the door worry-free!

David Baker, MD
Pittsburgh


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