White House Stifling Scientific Debate – Part I

The White House won’t tolerate scientists who disagree with their political agenda. This was made clear early in the Biden Administration. On 2/19/21, just four weeks after President Joe Biden took the oath of office, I wrote CDC Director Caves to Politics. The new CDC Director appointed by the Biden Administration, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, had just caved into the White House demands to alter her scientific opinion.

Here’s what I said at that time: “In an article published January 26th in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), three researchers from the CDC found “little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission” of the coronavirus. The CDC researchers looked at more than 90,000 students in 11 North Carolina districts and found that only 32 students and staff members were infected in school, while 773 got infected during the same period out of school. The science was clear; reopening schools was safe for children and teachers.

Then Dr. Walensky made her big mistake. On February 3rd, she announced these findings to the press. She made it clear that the science supported reopening schools.  In her statement she said, “Vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.” This was a direct refutation of the demands being made by teachers unions before they would return to the classrooms. When asked about her statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded Dr. Walensky was speaking “in her personal capacity” and not as the director of the CDC.”


In other words, the White House, not those public health officials with scientific credentials, would make the medical decisions that affected millions of children and their teachers.

This lesson was heard loud and clear by Dr. Walensky and by many other physicians and scientists who work for the Biden Administration. The latest evidence of this comes from Dr. Marty Makary, Johns Hopkins Medical School professor. In an article written for The New York Post, Makary says “doctors and scientists at the top levels of the National Institutes for Health (NIH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are variously frustrated, exasperated and alarmed about the direction of the agencies to which they have devoted their careers.”

It’s like a horror movie I’m forced to watch and I can’t close my eyes,” one senior FDA official lamented. “People are getting bad advice and we can’t say anything.” That particular FDA doctor was referring to two recent developments inside the agency. First, how, with no solid clinical data, the agency authorized Covid vaccines for infants and toddlers, including those who already had Covid. And second, the fact that just months before the FDA bypassed its external experts to authorize booster shots for young children.

The same environment exists at the NIH Vaccine Research Center. Many of its senior scientists have left over the last year, including the director, deputy director, and chief medical officer. “They have no leadership right now. Suddenly there’s an enormous number of jobs opening up at the highest-level positions,” one NIH scientist told Makary.

The CDC has experienced a similar exodus. “There’s been a large amount of turnover. Morale is low,” one high level official at the CDC told Makary. “Things have become so political, so what are we there for?” Another CDC scientist told Makary, “I used to be proud to tell people I work at the CDC. Now I’m embarrassed.”

The truth is this situation could have been prevented. If Dr. Walensky had resigned rather than alter her opinion regarding the safety of reopening schools without the vaccination of teachers, a line would have been drawn in the sand telling the White House they cannot make scientific policy decisions. By caving into the pressure from the White House, Dr. Walensky made it clear her job was more important than her scientific opinion.


Next post: How this situation is affecting policy decisions regarding children.

Medical Practice Evolution

I entered medical school in 1975. A lot has changed in the world since then, especially in the field of medicine.

We have technology today that was unthinkable in 1975.  Most surgery today is done through small incisions through the use of endoscopic equipment that allows surgeons to see inside the body through sophisticated cameras rather than through direct visualization. This has greatly shortened healing times for all kinds of surgery.

We have diagnostic equipment unheard of in 1975 – especially magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scanners) that make it possible for us to detect pathology much earlier and more accurately than we ever dreamed of before. Every field of medicine has improved in its ability to diagnose and treat disease.

What hasn’t improved, however, is the practice environment for physicians. I’m talking about the place where they go to work and their autonomy in making decisions about their patients. That has gotten worse.

When I began my orthopedic practice in 1984, about 3 of 4 physicians were in private practice. The rest were employees of hospitals or corporations, particularly in the specialties of radiology, pathology, anesthesiology and emergency medicine. Today those numbers have reversed – about 3 of 4 physicians are now working for hospitals or corporate entities.

Jared Dashevsky, writing for Workweek, says the percentage of hospital or corporate-employed physicians has increased 19% over the last three years, from 62% to 74%. This has likely been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which placed great pressures on those in private practice. What’s particularly interesting is the difference between hospital and corporate entity acquisitions:

  • Hospitals acquired 4,800 physician practices since January 2019, a 9% increase.
  • Corporate entities, like PE firms or health insurers, acquired 31,300 physician practices since 2019, an 86% increase.


What is driving this change?

Pandemic pressures and the current labor and supply shortages have stressed physician practices both financially and mentally. Physician burnout has become a big problem with more and more physicians retiring early or finding alternative working environments. An acquisition is a quick and lucrative way for physicians to shift the responsibility of running a practice to someone else. These benefits include:

  • Financial risk protection
  • Less administrative burdens
  • Electronic Health Records (EHR) implementation
  • More routine scheduling


These benefits have driven many physicians into the arms of hospitals or corporate entities. However, there is a downside to these changes:

  • Decreased income
  • Decreased autonomy in decision-making
  • Profit-driven motives of their employers
  • Decreased flexibility of hours


Dr. Dashevsky believes the pendulum that has shifted from private practice to hospital/corporate practice will someday shift back. As physicians crave the autonomy they once had, or want to experience it for the first time, change is likely. Personally, I hope it does. There is nothing quite like knowing there is no one getting between your patient and you when it comes to deciding what’s best for your patient. That feeling is being lost, and the sooner it returns, the better for all patients.

Medicare for All Not Dead


We haven’t heard much about Medicare for All recently, but it is far from dead. If you’ve forgotten, Medicare for All is the socialized medicine plan of Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders pushed his plan hard during the presidential campaign of 2020, but even the Democratic Party couldn’t stomach it so they made sure Joe Biden won the party’s nomination. They knew Sanders’ plan would never be accepted in the general election.

Since then, we haven’t heard much more about Medicare for All. The Covid pandemic changed the subject and demonstrated once again why the government should not be in charge of your healthcare. The tsunami of misinformation about Covid treatment driven by political agendas shows us what happens when the government gets between you and your doctor.

But lest you think Senator Sanders has given up on his plan, think again. Recently he held a Senate Budget Committee hearing on the subject of Medicare for All – again. Grace-Marie Turner, writing for The Galen Institute, says she and Professor Charles Blahous of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center were called as witnesses by Republicans on the committee.

Turner says, “The divisiveness on this issue is so clear it’s hard to find any center ground. That’s largely because the passion for Medicare for All is so detached from reality: The Left insists nurses and doctors would spend almost all their time on patient care, not forms and paperwork. Administrative costs would virtually vanish by shutting down insurance companies and other private players. Health costs would plummet while life expectancy would dramatically increase as everyone has access to all the care they need any time.”

I have highlighted this last line since it clearly shows how divorced from reality these advocates for socialized medicine really are. The truth about socialized medicine is well-known to anyone who objectively studies the subject. In every nation where socialized medicine has been implemented, including Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, Cuba and others, three things have been consistently found:

  • Reduced access to healthcare
  • Rationing of healthcare
  • Reduced quality of healthcare


It’s really quite simple. When the government is allowed to dictate who receives healthcare and how much treatment they receive, they cut costs by rationing access and eligibility for treatments. The inevitable result is reduced quality of healthcare. I have written extensively on this subject in the past and I refer you to my blog search box where you can find much more information by simply entering the words “Medicare for All.”

Turner tells us the Republican committee members asked pertinent questions. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked, “If the U.S. system is so horrible, why are so many people coming to America?” “Why aren’t we leaving to go to someplace else where you don’t die in the streets and where you don’t have to live under “one of the most disgusting examples of the healthcare on the planet? – as suggested by Senator Sanders.

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) talked about governments’ “miserable failures” in response to the Covid-19 pandemic on testing, shutdowns, school closures, restrictions on access to treatments, and more. “Why in the world would anybody put government more in charge of health care? What makes you think there would be less bureaucracy with government-run healthcare? There would be greater bureaucracy, more rules, less innovation, and higher costs.”

Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) reinforced that Medicare for All “would abolish the current Medicare program and make private insurance illegal. It would have the federal government deciding which procedures you get and when you get them. Do you want the government to makes these choices for you?” These are all good questions for which there are no good answers. Medicare for All needs to die, but Bernie won’t let it go.