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Doctors Aiding Torture
By Stephen Lendman
In April 2009, a confidential February 2007 ICRC torture report was publicly released. Titled, "ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen 'High Value Detainees' in CIA Custody," it detailed harsh and abusive treatment from their time of arrest, detention, transfer, and incarceration at Guantanamo where ICRC professionals interviewed them.
Besides detailed information on torture and abusive treatment, they obtained damning, consistent detainee accounts of medical personnel involvement, including:
- their monitoring of and direct participation in torture procedures;
- instructing interrogators to continue, adjust, or stop certain ones;
- informing detainees that medical treatment depended on their cooperation;
- performing medical checks before and after each transfer; and
- treating the effects of torture as well as ailments and injuries during incarceration.
45,000 American deaths associated with lack of insurance
By Madison Park | CNN
A freelance cameraman's appendix ruptured and by the time he was admitted to surgery, it was too late. A self-employed mother of two is found dead in bed from undiagnosed heart disease. A 26-year-old aspiring fashion designer collapsed in her bathroom after feeling unusually fatigued for days.
What all three of these people have in common is that they experienced symptoms, but didn't seek care because they were uninsured and they worried about the hospital expense, according to their families. All three died.
Research released this week in the American Journal of Public Health estimates that 45,000 deaths per year in the United States are associated with the lack of health insurance. If a person is uninsured, "it means you're at mortal risk," said one of the authors, Dr. David Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
The researchers examined government health surveys from more than 9,000 people aged 17 to 64, taken from 1986-1994, and then followed up through 2000. They determined that the uninsured have a 40 percent higher risk of death than those with private health insurance as a result of being unable to obtain necessary medical care. The researchers then extrapolated the results to census data from 2005 and calculated there were 44,789 deaths associated with lack of health insurance. Read more.
John Conyers and some allies on the House Judiciary Committee have come up with a fabulous way to get the insurance industry in line – by threatening to remove their anti-trust exemption.
Many people don’t know that the insurance industry, under the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945, has a broad anti-trust exemption that facilitates regional monopolies. The Act allows states to regulate the insurance business instead of the federal government, but also allows that, as long as the state regulates the industry, federal anti-trust laws would not apply.
As a result of this exemption, states have seen markets for health insurance where one or two companies predominate. In the state of Maine, Wellpoint controls 71% of the market. In North Dakota, Blue Cross controls 90%. Using the Herfindahl/Hirschman Index, a metric for market concentration, a 2007 study by the AMA found almost every health insurance market in the United States is highly concentrated. Read more.
Top Executives from Health Insurance Industry Admit Denials and Delays of Medical Coverage Can Lead to Harm and Even Death
Top Executives from Health Insurance Industry Admit Denials and Delays of Medical Coverage can lead to Harm and Even Death | Press Release
Washington D.C. (September 17, 2009) – Top executives from the six largest health insurance companies in the U.S. today admitted to a congressional subcommittee that denials and delays in medical coverage can cause harm and even death.. The executives made the admission in testimony before the Domestic Policy Subcommittee, chaired by Dennis Kucinich (D-OH).
Kucinich asked the executives:
“Do you believe that a health insurer’s refusal to pay for a patient’s cancer treatment can directly or indirectly cause harm or death to that person?”
Each health insurance company executive answered “Yes.”
The executives represented the following companies: United Healthcare, Wellpoint, Aetna, Humana, Cigna and the Health Care Service Corporation.
The study found a 40 percent increased risk of death among the uninsured. As expected, death rates were also higher for males (37 percent increase), current or former smokers (102 percent and 42 percent increases), people who said that their health was fair or poor (126 percent increase), and those that examining physicians said were in fair or poor health (222 percent increase).
A study published online today estimates nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance. That figure is about two and a half times higher than an estimate from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2002.
The new study, “Health Insurance and Mortality in U.S. Adults,” appears in today’s online edition of the American Journal of Public Health.
The Harvard-based researchers found that uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts, up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in 1993.
Lead author Dr. Andrew Wilper, who worked at Harvard Medical School when the study was done and who now teaches at the University of Washington Medical School, said, “The uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the privately insured, even after taking into account socioeconomics, health behaviors and baseline health. We doctors have many new ways to prevent deaths from hypertension, diabetes and heart disease – but only if patients can get into our offices and afford their medications.”
Bill Moyers This Week: Crisis Facing Organized Labor, Its Relationship With Obama Administration & The Broader Working Class
Michael Zweig of the Center for Study of Working Class Life Bill Fletcher and I are scheduled to appear on the Bill Moyers Journal on PBS stations this weekend in a conversation about the crisis facing organized labor, and its relationship to the Obama administration and the broader working class. Check local listings for the times of broadcast in your area.
From TomDispatch this morning, a deep dive into the American "state of war" -- the way this country has grown used to its now seemingly unending wars and the immense, intense preparations for more of the same: Tom Engelhardt, "Is America Hooked on War?"
Here's how I begin my latest post: "'War is peace' was one of the memorable slogans on the facade of the Ministry of Truth, Minitrue in 'Newspeak,' the language invented by George Orwell in 1948 for his dystopian novel 1984. Some 60 years later, a quarter-century after Orwell's imagined future bit the dust, the phrase is, in a number of ways, eerily applicable to the United States."
I begin with the present increasingly fierce debate in Washington over whether the president should send more U.S. troops or train more Afghan soldiers to deal with our deteriorating position in that country and point out that both positions can be summed up with the same word: More. And that real alternatives to the present course of action in that country are unlikely to get a hearing "because alternatives that don't fit with 'more' have ceased to be part of Washington's war culture."
The rest of this post, via a set of my own questions, plunges into the American "state of war" in which we now live and the American version of Newspeak that goes with it in which, increasingly, war has indeed become peace, and peace is 'No longer the opposite of war, just a rhetorical flourish embedded, like one of our reporters, in Warspeak."
Here's just one passage to consider:
"On the day I'm writing this piece, 'Names of the Dead,' a feature which appears almost daily in my hometown newspaper, records the death of an Army private from DeKalb, Illinois, in Afghanistan. Among the spare facts offered: he was 20 years old, which means he was probably born not long before the First Gulf War was launched in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. If you include that war, which never really ended -- low-level U.S. military actions against Saddam Hussein's regime continued until the invasion of 2003 -- as well as U.S. actions in the former Yugoslavia and Somalia, not to speak of the steady warfare underway since November 2001, in his short life, there was hardly a moment in which the U.S. wasn't engaged in military operations somewhere on the planet (invariably thousands of miles from home). If that private left a one-year-old baby behind in the States, and you believe the statements of various military officials, that child could pass her tenth birthday before the war in which her father died comes to an end. Given the record of these last years, and the present military talk about being better prepared for 'the next war,' she could reach 2025, the age when she, too, might join the military without ever spending a warless day. Is that the future you had in mind? Read more.
Cindy Sheehan (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox) wrote to update us on the International People's Declaration of Peace (IPDoP):
- This is the final version of IPDoP...the committee sent it out for translation services today!
- We are working on website and an online petition to sign after the translations are complete, it is not ready to be signed yet.
- We are also working on an archival quality hard copy document to be taken all over the world for signatures of leading peace proponents.
- We are also working on accompanying articles for the Declaration.
- We still need commitments for free or very low cost translation services into: French, Japanese, Arabic, Bengali, and Chinese
International People's Declaration of Peace
We the undersigned, as responsible citizens of this planet, hereby proclaim the urgent universal need for sustained security through peace, for present and future generations of the human family.
The FBI is investigating as a possible hate crime an incident in which a woman was beaten to the ground in front of her child at the entrance to a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Morrow, Georgia, south of Atlanta.
Troy Dale West Jr., of Poulan, Georgia, is facing charges including misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct after allegedly beating Army reservist Tashawnea Hill, 35, after the two had words at the entrance of the Morrow, Georgia, restaurant the evening of September 9.
Hill, an African-American, told police that West, 47, yelled racial epithets at her as the attack took place.
"He did punch me with a closed fist repeated times. My head is still hurting today. I have knots on my head," Hill told CNN Wednesday night, adding she also was kicked.
Police said witnesses confirmed her account.
The FBI has "initiated an investigation in the matter to determine if a civil rights violation occurred," the agency said in a statement.
Because the alleged incident happened in full view of Hill's 7-year-old daughter, the Clayton County district attorney's office added a felony charge of cruelty to children.
"[The woman's daughter] was visibly upset the night of the attack," according to Capt. James Callaway of the Morrow Police Department, who said he was on the scene shortly after the alleged attack.
A police report of the incident said Hill's daughter was "crying uncontrollably and her body [was] shaking/trembling" from witnessing the attack. Read more.
Lynching Victim Emmett Till's Casket to go to Smithsonian
By Don Babwin | Black News
The glass-topped casket that displayed lynching victim Emmett Till's disfigured body to the world and became a rallying point for the civil rights movement is headed to the Smithsonian Institution, Till's family announced Friday.
"Hopefully, when this casket, when it's on display at the Smithsonian, young boys and young girls from all over the world are going to see it and it's going to inspire them to fight for those who are too weak to fight for themselves," said Simeon Wright, Till's cousin.
At the South Side church where Mamie Till-Mobley insisted in 1955 on opening the casket that held the remains of her 14-year-old son - and allowed photographs to be taken and published - Wright said her message of what racism looks like still needs to be told.
"Fifty years from now someone will tell the story ... that they murdered him, threw him in the Tallahatchie River, would they believe it without the casket?" asked Wright. He was 12 and was with Till the night the black teenager was pulled from his bed in Mississippi and murdered for whistling at a white woman.
Lonnie Bunch, the director of the Smithsonian's planned National Museum of African American History and Culture, where the casket will be displayed, said he knows of no other casket of a specific American put on display this way at the Smithsonian. He called it a key artifact from the civil rights movement that helps tell the story of what is both one of the darkest chapters in U.S. history and a moment that helped change it.
"Part of the responsibility of a national museum is to help people to remember, and through this donation we will ensure that future generations will remember how the death of a child, a mother's courage, helped to transform America," Bunch said. Read more.
Congressman Joe ("You lie!") Wilson is undoubtedly not completely ignorant about how our health care system actually works. After all, in the course of his career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, he's received $244,196 in contributions from the health-care profession -- and that doesn't even count another $86,150 from the pharmaceutical industry or the $68,000 that came in from hospitals and nursing homes. In fact, if you go to the page at that organization's OpenSecrets.org website on Congressional contributions and start clicking around among the members of Congress, you'll be struck by how many times the health and pharmaceutical industries (and their lobbyists) pop up.
It's not so surprising, of course, since there are staggering sums of money at stake, which means striking amounts of the same to inject like some potent drug directly into the bloodstream of our political system. Consider but one figure: since 2002, according to Harper's Magazine, the profits of the top 10 health insurance companies have increased by 428%. And the CEOs of those top insurers have a personal incentive for ensuring that those profits don't slide due to new health-care legislation; after all, they made a combined $690 million in the last nine years.
In fact, any administration arriving in Washington wanting to do anything these days walks into a blizzard of money, not to speak of the fact that the wind at its back, the campaign wind that got it there, was already blowing strong with similar contributions. TomDispatch regular Andy Kroll offers a vivid portrait of that world at this moment and what it means for the Obama administration. Tom
Obama vs. the Lobbyists
A Scorecard for the Future of American Politics
By Andy Kroll
At the end of this summer of discontent, of death panels and unplugging poor Grandma, of birthers and astroturfers and rifle-toting picketers, the halcyon early days of the Obama administration feel increasingly like hazy, gilt-edged memories. The president's sprawling legislative agenda -- a health-care overhaul, financial regulation reform, slashing wasteful military spending, and climate change legislation legislation -- is slowly grinding its way through the halls of Congress. Barack Obama's sheen, his administration's unflagging confidence, and all the bipartisan, post-racial aspirations have been replaced by the hard realities of Washington politicking. And with the media's lens more tightly focused than ever on Washington's every move and utterance 24/7, anything said a few months back feels like a lifetime ago.
One particular statement from distant April, however, bears revisiting. The president's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, then grasped not only the magnitude of what was being undertaken, but the raft of entrenched interests lining up in opposition. As he told the New York Times:
"We're not taking on a fight; we're taking on a multiple-front fight because we've taken on a series of entrenched interests across the waterfront -- from education to health care, and the defense industry, and the lobbying industry as a whole… There will be a scorecard at the end of which ones we won and which ones we didn't, but every one of those policy challenges have been initiated by us."Read more.
The Green Party Responds To Obama's speech: Mr. President, Make Health Care A Right For All Americans
- America needs Medicare For All/Single-Payer, not a life-support system for insurance companies and HMOs
- Whether Obamacare passes or the GOP blocks health care reform, insurance companies will win and American people will lose
- Attention paid to Obamacare vs. town hall hecklers eclipses the fact that most Americans want national health care, according to polls
The following is a Green Party response to President Obama's address to Congress on September 9, 2009
President Obama was correct when he said, quoting the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, that health care was fundamentally a moral issue and a matter of "social justice and the character of our country." President Obama understands that we're in a national crisis -- that's why he wants to lead on health care reform.
But the President stopped short of asserting that health care should be made a right for all Americans. He said he has "no interest in putting insurance companies out of business." He did not admit the fact that the insurance industry's very existence depends on the power to restrict coverage, deny claims to those with coverage, cancel coverage for people when they need medical care most, and reject people who are high-risk because of low income, age, and prior medical condition. (President Obama related several accounts of such outrages in his speech.) The insurance business plays a middle-man role, exacting huge fees for its profits, administrative costs, overhead, and high CEO salaries, while providing no medical services.
As long as for-profit insurance continues to exist, access to health care remains secondary to corporate middle-man profits. Replacing private insurance and HMO coverage with a plan to make Medicare universal is the only solution.
Since Medicare doesn't function to make a profit, its administrative costs are about three percent. For-profit insurance takes about a 30 percent bite out of health care spending and imposes unwieldy administrative costs and paperwork on doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers. That's why health care eats up over 15 percent of domestic spending in the US, compared to about 9 percent in Canada, which has a Single-Payer system. Read more.
Institute for Policy Studies Invites you to the
33rd Annual Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards
Thursday, October 15, 2009
National Press Club Ballroom, 13th Floor
529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC
5:30 PM: Reception and Light Fare
7:00 PM: Human Rights Program
* * *
RSVP & Reservations
Early Bird tickets: $40 through September 30th
DC Preps for Exotic Evening of Dance, Art and Music Benefiting the International Lifeline Fund Thurs. 9/24, RSVP Now!
The International Lifeline Fund is a non-profit humanitarian relief organization based in Washington, D.C. In the three short years since it became operational in 2006, this cutting edge organization that has found ways to dramatically reduce human misery and environmental destruction at remarkably low cost. In an effort to get the most bang out of every buck, Lifeline has been promoting cost-effective technologies and self-sustaining programs, which give vulnerable individuals the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty and become productive members of their societies.
Lifeline’s signature initiative involves the promotion of sustainable fuel technologies in regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, which, in the past two decades, have lost approximately one-third of their forest cover. Literally half of this loss is attributable to cooking on an open fire – a method that is extremely hazardous to human health and that retards the living standards of women who must spend countless hours collecting wood. In an effort to address these and other problems associated with open fire cooking, Lifeline has provided some 50,000 fuel-efficient clay stoves to women who have been displaced by violence in Somalia, Darfur, Burundi and Northern Uganda. At a cost of as little as $2 each, these stoves have profoundly improved the lives of scores of thousands and slowed the pace of deforestation by greatly reducing the amount of wood needed for cooking.
Hey St. Paul! Madison! You're Next! The Mad As Hell Doctors Are Heading Your Way! Be There! Updated Schedule Here!
When: Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009, 3:00 PM
Where: Capitol Rotunda, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155
When: Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009, 7:00 PM
Where: St. Catherine University, 2004 Randolph Ave. St., St. Paul, MN 55105
Mad as Hell in Madison!
First Unitarian Society
900 University Bay Dr.
Contact: Charles Uphoff
Mad as Hell in Madison!
State Street Entrance
N. Carroll & W. Mifflin St.
Contact: Charles Uphoff
Mad as Hell in Madison!
The Dardanelles Restaurant
1851 Monroe Street
Contact: Charles Uphoff
Mad as Hell in Gary!
McBride Union Hall
1301 Texas Ave.
Contact: Karen Kroczek
Chicago Preps for "MadasHellDoctors" Town Hall with Dr. Quentin Young, Saturday, 9/26, U of IL Pharm School
MadasHellDoctors.com Chicago event with Dr. Quentin Young | Press Release
When: Saturday, September 26, 2009, 11 AM
Where: UIC School of Pharmacy, 833 S. Wood Street, Chicago IL 60612 (Map)
Furious with the lack of real health care solutions coming out of Washington, D.C., a group of "Mad as Hell" physicians set out from Portland, Oregon, Sept. 8th on an unprecedented road trip across America to lobby Congress for a single payer health care system. On Saturday, September 26, they bring their "Care-A-Van" to Chicago for a town hall meeting at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The group is inviting the public to the meeting, which kicks off at 11 a.m.at the UIC School of Pharmacy, 833 S. Wood Street. The Chicago stop comes just days before the doctors´ journey culminates with a protest on the steps of Congress on September 30.
"We´re mad as hell because our health care system is run by people who profit from illness," says Dr. Paul Hochfeld, lead Mad As Hell Doctor. "Other wealthy nations have test-driven single payer, and it works. But elected officials in America have closed the door to discussion. We´re
here to open it."
President Obama Addresses AFL-CIO - "Not a Dollar from the Medicare Trust Fund Will Be Used to Pay for This Plan!"
More below the fold. Click "Read more."
Remote Area Medical - "Lifeline" - Charity Begins At Home, Here in the USA - "I Just Hate To Ask! I've Worked All My Life!"
60 Minutes - Remote Area Medical - "Lifeline" | March 04, 2008
"It is absurd to mandate that people purchase what they cannot afford and to fine them for failing to do so....
The private sector is no longer the answer, because the income levels of the vast majority of Americans are insufficient to bear the cost of health insurance today. To provide some perspective, the monthly premium for a 60-year old female for a group policy (employer-provided) with Blue Cross Blue Shield in Florida is about $1,200. That comes to $14,400 per year. Only employees in high productivity jobs that can provide both a livable salary and health care can expect to have employer-provided coverage. If a 60-year old female has to buy a non-group policy as an individual, the premium would be even higher. How, for example, is a Wal-Mart shelf stocker or check out clerk going to be able to pay a private insurance premium?"
The current health care “debate” shows how far gone representative government is in the United States. Members of Congress represent the powerful interest groups that fill their campaign coffers, not the people who vote for them.
The health care bill is not about health care. It is about protecting and increasing the profits of the insurance companies. The main feature of the health care bill is the “individual mandate,” which requires everyone in America to buy health insurance. Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont), a recipient of millions in contributions over his career from the insurance industry, proposes to impose up to a $3,800 fine on Americans who fail to purchase health insurance.
The determination of “our” elected representatives to serve the insurance industry is so compelling that Congress is incapable of recognizing the absurdity of these proposals.
The reason there is a health care crisis in the US is that the cumulative loss of jobs and benefits has swollen the uninsured to approximately 50 million Americans. They cannot afford health insurance any more than employers can afford to provide it.
It is absurd to mandate that people purchase what they cannot afford and to fine them for failing to do so. A person who cannot pay a health insurance premium cannot pay the fine.
These proposals are like solving the homeless problem by requiring the homeless to purchase a house. Read more.
~Chip's Note: Rep. Kucinich is Chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee.
Health Insurance Oversight Hearing Witness List | Press Release
Washington D.C. (September 15, 2009) – Domestic Policy Subcommittee Chairman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today announced the witness list for the upcoming two-part hearing entitled, “Between You and Your Doctor: the Bureaucracy of Private Health Insurance,” that will be held on September 16 and 17, 2009. The hearing will examine how the bureaucracy of private health insurance companies affects the medical care of patients.
On Wednesday, September 16 at 10:00 a.m. in Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2154, the Subcommittee will hear testimony from:
John Conyers in support of Universal Health Care. Washington, DC 5-13-09
Health Care or Insurance Care - Take Your Pick - Here's What You Can Do!
By Rep. Dennis Kucinich
The President's health care policy speech was brilliant but when you get into the details another picture emerges. Unfortunately, at this point, the proposal outlined last night is the ultimate corporate giveaway. It's not health care, it’s insurance care. As many as thirty million new customers for an insurance industry which makes money not providing health care. The only way this country will see true health is by investing in real health care. That is the essence of HR676, the single payer bill.
The President opened his speech speaking of how we have solved the economic crisis - how? By rewarding those who caused the crash! Is this the way we solve the health care crisis? Rewarding the insurance companies? Helping insurance and pharmaceutical stock to soar, propping up markets while skimping on health care? The very same system which caused the health care crisis is being rewarded with the guarantee of tens of millions of new customers mandated - by law - to have health care. The latest plan rewards the very companies that have denied treatment, denied care, denied drug coverage while their profits grow daily.
The only way this country will see true sustainable economic recovery is through investment in the real economy, priming the pump through job creation. The only way this country will see true health is by investing in real health care.
The "public option" has been relegated to insignificance. What we will now get is yet another "private option", not a public option, because single-payer is "off the table." We the people deserve better. We have been faced with general warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan - multi-trillion dollar ballouts for arms merchants, $12 trillion in bailouts for Wall Street, bailouts to coal and nuclear industries, and now proposed huge subsidies for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. What's wrong with this picture? Everything!
Brought to you by Billionaires for Wealthcare, a grassroots network of health insurance CEOs, HMO lobbyists, talk-show hosts, and others profiting off of our broken health care system. We'll do whatever it takes to ensure another decade where your pain is our gain. After all, when it comes to healthcare, if we ain't broke, why fix it?
We know that Medicare has worked well for half a century for those of us over 65. Why does it become "socialized medicine" when we extend it to younger Americans?
For many years, a handful of American political leaders -- including the late senator Ted Kennedy and now President Obama -- have been trying to gain passage of comprehensive health care for all Americans. As far back as President Harry S. Truman, they have urged Congress to act on this national need. In a presentation before a joint session of Congress last week, Obama offered his view of the best way forward.
But what seems missing in the current battle is a single proposal that everyone can understand and that does not lend itself to demagoguery. If we want comprehensive health care for all our citizens, we can achieve it with a single sentence: Congress hereby extends Medicare to all Americans.
Those of us over 65 have been enjoying this program for years. I go to the doctor or hospital of my choice, and my taxes pay all the bills. It's wonderful. But I would have appreciated it even more if my wife and children and I had had such health-care coverage when we were younger. I want every American, from birth to death, to get the kind of health care I now receive. Removing the payments now going to the insurance corporations would considerably offset the tax increase necessary to cover all Americans.
I don't feel as though the government is meddling in my life when it pays my doctor and hospital fees. There are some things the government does that I don't like -- most notably getting us into needless wars that cost many times what health care for all Americans would cost. Investing in the health of our citizens will enhance the well-being and security of the nation. Read more.
Doctors on Coverage — Physicians’ Views on a New Public Insurance Option and Medicare Expansion
By Salomeh Keyhani, M.D., M.P.H., and Alex Federman, M.D., M.P.H. | NEJM
In the past few months, a key point of contention in the health care reform debate has been whether a public health insurance option should be included in the final legislation. Although polls have shown that 52 to 69% of Americans support such an option,1 the views of physicians are unclear. Physicians are critical stakeholders in health care reform and have been influential in shaping health policy throughout the history of organized medicine in the United States.2
The voices of physicians in the current debate have emanated almost exclusively from national physicians’ groups and societies. Like any special-interest group, these organizations claim to represent their members (and often nonmembers as well). The result is a well-established understanding of the interests of physicians’ societies but little, if any, understanding of views among physicians in general. Read more.