The GOP's Fake Doctor Council
How Obamacare opponents scam physicians and the public.
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Some physicians, I should note, were tickled pink to be asked to join the NRCC's phony council. Dr. Michael Richman, a heart surgeon in Los Angeles whose name appears neither on Fred's version of the draft press release nor on the one obtained by Think Progress, put out a press release announcing his selection to the panel. So did Dr. Richard Stanford, a pediatrician in Oklahoma City. (Stanford's name can't be found on Fred's or Think Progress's versions, either.) This is like putting out a press release to announce that somebody phoned and asked you to donate to the United Way.
I put in a call to Rep. Price's office to find out more about the PCRR. They referred me to the NRCC. A press representative who called back said he didn't know anything about the Physicians' Council and would have to get back to me.
I phoned the InfoCision call center and asked for some information about the PCRR. I was referred to Jessica Boulanger at the NRCC. When I phoned the NRCC, I was informed that nobody named Jessica Boulanger worked there. (Apparently, she used to.)
I phoned the InfoCision call center again and asked for Sabrina Taylor, the contact name on Fred's draft press release. I was told she was busy. I asked if Sabrina could call me back. This seemed to flummox the person I was speaking to. "Does Sabrina Taylor exist?" I asked. Yes, I was assured. I left my name and number. Sabrina didn't call back.
I phoned InfoCision yet again and asked for Candace Lyons. This was an entirely different contact listed on the version of the draft press release posted on the Think Progress Web site. Candace Lyons was also busy. Could Candace could call me back? Once again, this request seemed highly irregular. "Does Candace Lyons exist?" Yes. Candace didn't call back.
I phoned InfoCision's public relations office and got a very nice-sounding woman who said she'd get back to me. She didn't.
InfoCision, I can't resist mentioning, took home the "Best Practices" award in May from the Interactive Intelligence Interactions conference in Indianapolis.
Update, 7:40 p.m.: From NRCC spokesman Paul Lindsay:
Given the heightened attention to this debate, we established an outlet for the medical providers who would be most affected by the Democrats' fatally flawed government healthcare takeover. The Physician's Council for Responsible Reform is a grassroots and fundraising operation that engages these professionals who are passionate about healthcare reform but are opposed to a Democrat plan that would limit competition and harm the doctor-patient relationship.
An NRCC fact sheet spells out member benefits for the Physicians' Council. $50 to $500 gets your name in an ad campaign. $500 to $999 gets you "special closed door briefings." $1000 to $2499 gets you into a "limited invitation" video or teleconference and the opportunity to be on a panel in Washington. $2500 to $4999 gets you the opportunity to communicate "with key decisionmakers in Washington, DC" by e-mail and in special "trustee meetings." Anything above $5000 get you ... media training!
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.