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Friday, February 19, 2010

Facebookers Rise Up to Support “The People’s Health Care Reform Plan”


Doctors, nurses, patients, and hundreds of “Facebookers” are working to make “The People’s Health Care Reform Plan” go viral on the Internet and offline.

My mantra is “Empower Patients; Not Third Parties.” That’s why I wrote the “The People’s Health Care Reform Plan.” It’s a simple plan, only five pages in length, compared to the 2,000 page monstrosities that congress has come up with.

“The People’s Health Care Reform Plan” says that there will be no more secrets kept from patients. The plan says:

1. Prices will no longer be kept secret from patients, and
2. The secret, life-saving, inside medical information that only doctors, nurses, and allied health care professional know, will be made public for patients.

Initially, I was very frustrated. I was seemingly one of the “most qualified people in the world” (see my credentials here: http://bradmd.blogspot.com/2010/01/my-credentials-for-health-care-reform.html) to speak about health care reform, but I had no effective way get my ideas out to patients, politicians, and the people.

For example, I wrote to Senator Max Baucus, who was put in charge of ObamaCare, in May 2009, and got this answer back: “Thank you for submitting an email to my office. I value your input and assure you that my staff will review your message as soon as possible. Due to the large amount of email I receive on a daily basis, it may take my staff up to three weeks to respond to your email. If you have an emergency, please call my office directly at (800) 332-6106 (from MT) or (406) 657-6790.”

My notes indicate that I called four more times, even trying to track down Andrew somebody, who was supposed to be the senator’s health care aid. I never heard back. So, much for “the door is always open.”

One day, two college buddies suggested I get on Facebook. Months later my sister gave me a tutorial. Then, I paid for a couple of tutorials, and finally, I got it. I discovered the power of social networking.

In July 2009, I had 43 friends on Facebook, mostly family, high school friends, and college buddies. But after getting through my learning curve, I realized that Facebook was too powerful not to use for health care reform. I started posting to Facebook about health care reform that empowers patients. Today, I have 3,723 “friends” on Facebook. So, on average, I am adding 20 friends a day who care about patients first. That’s powerful. That’s better than I ever did with blogging.

One person I became friends with on Facebook was Dan Samaria (880 friends, 473 mutual friends), an entrepreneur and publisher of the online newspaper, The Gold Coast Chronicle.

He “messaged” me that he liked my posts, and asked if I would write a feature article for The Gold Coast Chronicle. I was hesitant, because I thought I was starting to get somewhere just by publishing to Facebook and Blogger. On the other hand, I was working on my own health care reform plan, and going through version after version, to make it more understandable in order to reach the widest audience possible. So, I accepted.

Meanwhile, I attended a Tea Party meeting where I met Jerry Kingsbury, who was not even on Facebook yet. Jerry is a nurse, who like me had health trouble, retired, and moved to Florida. In fact, Jerry was lucky enough in December of 2006 to have a bi-lateral lung transplant at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida. Fortunately, everything has been looking good since then. Jerry is now on Facebook (13 friends, 6 friends in common) and is learning the ropes.

I got advice from everyone I could, one thing led to another, and “The People’s Health Care Reform Plan” was first published in The Gold Coast Chronicle at:
http://www.goldcoastchronicle.com/feature/the-peoples-health-care-reform-plan/

Then, I got the idea to use the Facebook “Event” feature. I posted “The People’s Health Care Reform Plan - Distribution Party” as an event, and as of today over 263 people have signed up to distribute the plan to their friends and politicians.

Jerry Kingsbury really came through. He did a mass mailing of the plan to every United States Senator and every Florida State representative, only charging me for the postage.

Devin Norris, a radio personality, read the entire plan, on his Wake Up America (Radio Show) On WAPR.FM -- http://wapr.fm

One politician wrote me that he was going to use my plan as the "Medical Plank" in his platform.

Many bloggers have reposted or commented on my plan.

One woman told me she e-mailed the plan to dozens of friends and politicians.

Some Facebookers simply reposted the plan to their Facebook friends.

What have I learned from all this? I’ve learned that it’s hard to get politicians to listen. Although, bipartisan in my approach, I did not feel the Democrats or the Republicans listened to me. However, the Tea Party listened. The Facebookers listened. THE PEOPLE listened.

I will leave you with two of my favorite quotes by my fellow physicians:

Dr. Jeffrey English: "I do not take care of Democrats or Republicans in my practice, I take care of patients."

Dr. Richard Armstrong: "Not right, not left, but about what is right for patients and physicians."

Bradley R. Hennenfent, M.D., Physician and Economist
www.Facebook.com/Hennenfent
E-mail: Brad@BradMD.com
Blog: www.BradMD.com
Staff writer for The Gold Coast Chronicle

This article will also be published on my profile notes at www.Facebook.com/Hennenfent

Copyright © 2010 Bradley R. Hennenfent, M.D., Physician and Economist. All rights reserved.

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