A call to action from PNHP President Robert Zarr

A call to action

November 14, 2016

Dear colleague,

Last week, our country witnessed a historic protest against the status quo, a protest fueled by frustration and anger.

The divide between haves and have nots has been widening. Millions of Americans suffer needlessly in this land of plenty, where maldistribution, not scarcity, leaves many without adequate food, shelter, education, parks, and health care.

We all deserve to be healthy, happy and proud of our heritage, and should feel no need to prop ourselves up at the expense of others. Our country is unique and strong because it was founded on the principles of liberty and opportunity, a bounty that has been expanded through struggle to groups that were once excluded.

I write these words as a physician who bears daily witness to the everyday tragedies of ordinary people, people of every shade, language, culture and income. My patients vary greatly. Some grew up milking cows, harvesting our food or butchering animals, some dodging bullets. Others build roads, teach or care for our kids, or nurture our minds and souls with music or verse.

As a doctor, listener and healer, I write to you, my partners, fellow physicians, nurses, physical and mental health therapists, students, and everyone who shares our common experience of listening to and helping others. Perhaps our greatest asset as healers is our ability to be resourceful, innovative, and creative in helping our patients overcome the seemingly insurmountable. We are expert at making lemonade out of lemons.

Our work helping one person at a time will never end, and will likely be intensified in the months and years ahead. But our work does not end in the exam room.

It is important, in this time of chaos and uncertainty, that health care professionals organize ourselves to take collective action and speak with a coherent voice. More than ever, our patients, and our country need us as activists, as well as healers.

No organization is better positioned than Physicians for a National Health Program to provide the tools and safe spaces for us to make our voices heard. And there is no more urgent time than the present to build a broad coalition and a fearless movement to bring us closer to a fair, just, and equitable world.


Robert Zarr, M.D., M.P.H.

P.S. I encourage you to read an interview that Dr. David Himmelstein gave to The Lancet  just two days after Tuesday’s election; I think you’ll find it of interest. Second, at PNHP's Annual Meeting this Saturday in Washington we'll hear analyses of the Republicans' health policy agenda, and begin the process of plotting the future of the single-payer movement and how to protect our patients during the difficult times ahead. It’s not too late to register. Please join us if you can. (Pre-registration ends tonight, but we will take registrations at the door.)


By Don McCanne, M.D.

There is hope for the future of our health care system, and we can be the source of that.