Politics and Your Practice: Hacking Bill and Hillary

May 1, 2006
Ken Karpay

Our intrepid columnist reveals an e-mail communication between the former president and his presidential-aspirant wife.

A source close to Bill Clinton tells me he discovered the following e-mail conversation on the former president’s computer screen during a recent social call.

TO: Bill
FROM: Hillary
RE: My speech before the AMA
Bill, my staff accepted an invitation for me to speak at the annual AMA convention later this year, without clearing it with me. HELP! I’d rather focus on lawyers - they’ll give me big money for ’08. Docs don’t like me. I think
I’ll cancel.
- H

TO: H
FROM: B
RE: RE: My speech before the AMA
Darling, relax. Docs are just like lawyers - except they passed Chem 101 in college. Do not cancel. Go to the AMA; talk about big issues; always avoid details.
- B

TO: B
FROM: H
RE: RE: RE: My speech before the AMA
Easy for you. It’s always easy for you. But let me remind you of some details: The press loves to write about “Hillary’s 1993 attempted takeover of the healthcare system.” Docs in private practice just don’t trust me. (Given what they read about me, I’m not sure I would either!) By and large they’re Republicans. They won’t vote in the 2008 presidential primaries. And the AMA? It gives 75 percent of its PAC money to Republicans. Go to the AMA convention? I’d get skewered.
- H

TO: H
FROM: B
RE: RE: RE: RE: My speech before the AMA
Look, as soon as you win your Senate reelection race this fall, the press will ordain you the 2008 “frontrunner.” That’s death. Just ask our buddy Gary Hart, my new best friend George “Papa” Bush, and Howard Dean. The press loves to build us politicians up like Google stock, just to take us down. It helps them sell newspapers, gets TV viewers and Web clicks. Now is the time to take some risks; lose a few small fights; let someone else be in the lead. A visit to the AMA? It’s perfect: they’ll portray you as Daniel - in smart black heels - in the lion’s den!
- B

TO: B
FROM: H
RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: My speech before the AMA
OK, I agree, no one can be the frontrunner for two-and-a-half years. But me, Hillary Clinton, persuading doctors to support her? I’ll even smile at that one.
- H

TO: H
FROM: B
RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: My speech before the AMA
Oh, Honey, keep smiling. This is the fun part! Look, George Bush is taking docs for a ride. In his two bids for president he raised a gazillion dollars from docs. He promised to save them from malpractice, to boost Medicare payments, and to make their lives easier. Now, remember Reagan’s line? Go stand in front of those white coats and ask them, “Are you better off now than you were six years ago?” For gosh sakes, Hillary, Republicans have been in control of the House and Senate for most of the last six years and they can’t pass a measly cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits? You have plenty to say at the AMA. If George Bush is such a friend of docs, how do you explain the 26 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements under his watch? His answer? “Pay for performance.” Give me a break. That just means “Work harder, have less control, and we’ll pay you what you should have gotten.” What the docs ought to say is, “Pay me, not the insurance companies, for my expertise, my experience, and my hard work.”
- B

TO: B
FROM: H
RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: My speech before the AMA
Bill, put the politics aside. If I run and win, I’ll face budget challenges even worse than what George has. You and I know that whoever wins in 2008 is going to have to make some unpopular decisions. The 26 percent cuts in Medicare payments are just the first step.
- H

TO: H
FROM: B
RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: My speech before the AMA
Stop right there. Now you’re asking about governing. I’m retired, remember?
- B

What’s your assessment of this fictional e-mail conversation? E-mail me at kkarpay@physicianspractice.com. The views expressed here are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of Physicians Practice.

This article originally appeared in the May 2006 issue of Physicians Practice.