Vivek Murthy for Surgeon General


December 11, 2014

The Senate should not go home without confirming Dr. Vivek Murthy for Surgeon General.  He has been endorsed by over 100 health organizations, including the American Heart Association, the American Public Health Association, and many associations representing physicians, nurses, and public health experts.  Throughout his career, he has founded organizations that have done effective work on true public health emergencies.  In eight years leading VISIONS, he enlisted hundreds of volunteers to educate 45,000 youth in the U.S. and India about HIV/AIDS.  As a founder and leader of Doctors for America, he helped to recruit 16,000 physicians to work for comprehensive health reform in the U.S.  (Full disclosure:  we are proud that Doctors for America is a member of the Coalition on Human Needs.)  He has also worked to improve clinical trials of medications.
Who doesn’t like Dr. Murthy?  Of course, the Just-Say-No caucus in the Senate that hates the Affordable Care Act.  But also the National Rifle Association, an organization not generally known for its public health expertise.  They have opposed Dr. Murthy because Doctors for America sent letters urging Congress and the Obama Administration to require licensing and firearms training for purchasers of guns and ammunition,  to ban the sale of military-style assault weapons, and to allow physicians to talk to patients about gun safety (there are state and federal laws prohibiting physicians from talk or research about gun safety).  The letter, co-signed by Dr. Murthy, points out that 100,000 people in America are killed or injured by guns each year.  It is perfectly reasonable that physicians, seeing those people in emergency rooms, would want to see fewer of them through some relatively modest and common-sense controls.

From obesity to potential epidemics to inadequate access to health care, there are many public health issues needing the leadership of a capable Surgeon General.  Vivek Murthy has demonstrated his ability to encourage work by health professionals and others to educate and serve the public.  Senators should stop the delay and stick around as long as it is needed to confirm him.

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Vivek Murphy