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Monday, December 15, 2014

Vivek Murthy approved as the United States Surgeon General - Congratulations!

Listen up blog readers....this is big!  Our national response to infectious  disease and the public health menace of gun violence, now has a voice.

America finally has a Surgeon General! Congratulations to Dr. Vivek Murthy!

Dr. Vivek Murthy was approved as the United States Surgeon General, overcoming fierce opposition from the National Rifle Association (NRA) that locked the doctor's nomination.

Obama nominated Murthy, co-founder of the pro-Obamacare group Doctors for America, in November 2013. 

At 37, he will be the country's youngest surgeon general, and the first of Indian-American descent. 

Incredibly, the NRA, has long opposed Murthy's nomination.
Obama nominated Murthy, co-founder of the pro-Obamacare group Doctors for America, in November 2013. 

At 37, he will be the country's youngest surgeon general, and the first of Indian-American descent. The NRA, however, has long opposed Murthy's nomination.

The reason? Adrianna McIntyre explains:

Murthy was one of the authors of a letter saying that "strong measures to reduce gun violence must be taken immediately." So despite a bipartisan recommendation from the Senate HELP committee in February, the NRA promised to "score" any vote on Murthy confirmation, meaning an affirmative vote would pull down a senator's annual rating from the group.

Here's what you need to know about Murthy, the fight over his nomination, and, perhaps much more basically, what a surgeon general does all day.

Who is Vivek Murthy?

Murthy is a 36-year-old hospitalist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and a faculty member at Harvard Medical School. 

His most notable accomplishment is arguably co-founding Doctors for America in May 2009, just as the fight over the Affordable Care Act was gearing up. The country's main doctor trade group, the American Medical Association, remained neutral on the Affordable Care Act. In founding Doctors for America, Murthy says he saw an opportunity to organize the doctors who very much did support Obamacare. This is what he told Hospitalist News in 2012:
"I was struck by how few physicians were organizing and gathering their ideas to actually make an impact on the candidates’ platforms and, ultimately, on a health reform bill. A few colleagues and I began Doctors for America with a simple belief that physicians should play a leadership role in designing and running our nation’s health care system. That started with enabling physicians to shape and inform what would become the next major health reform law."

Murthy now splits his time between practicing as a physician and other endeavors. He is the founder of Trial Networks, a technology company launched in 2007 to help large pharmaceutical companies better manage the drug testing process. And as if Murthy hasn't launched enough things, he also started Visions Worldwide, a non-profit dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS, in India.

President Obama nominated Murthy to the surgeon general post in November 2014, 2013. His appointment was held up because of a letter Murthy signed onto, from Doctors for America, that called for "significant changes in policy" to reduce gun deaths in half by 2020. The letter calls for background checks, assault weapons bans, and other policies that the National Rifle Association opposes.

When the possibility of a vote on Murthy's confirmation came up in March, the New York Times reported that the NRA "sent a 'grass-roots alert' to millions of email subscribers, imploring them to 'contact your senators and ask them to oppose confirmation of President Obama’s radically anti-gun nominee.'"

Thankfully, several editors at the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine penned an editorial in defense of the Murthy in May. "Ten Senate Democrats are apparently prepared to vote against Murthy's confirmation because of his personal views on firearms — a demonstration of just how much political power our legislators have ceded to the NRA," they write. "By obstructing the President's nomination of Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, the NRA is taking its single-issue political blackmail to a new level."

Writing as a nurse, I strongly support Dr. Murthy's appointment as Surgeon General. Out nation needs one voice to respond to threats from deadly infectious diseases, like HIV-AIDS, and the lethal Ebola virus.  

Even more important, in response to the daily litany of America's gun violence deaths, our nation desperately needs a victory against the powerful National Rifle Associaiton.  

Dr. Murthy is a voice for prevention of gun violence, injuries and deaths. Dr. Murthy's appointment at Surgeon General is important. He has earned the nation's support for his job to protect the health and well being of our nation. 

Let's also strongly support his position against the growing public health problem of gun violence in America.



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