Newly inaugurated NHMS President Travis Harker to focus on 3 key Issues for 2014.

An excerpt from Dr. Travis Harker’s speech:

“In 1791, Josiah Bartlett and 23 other doctors came together to enjoy each other’s company and to be the vanguard for our sacred profession.  They spent much of the first century of our existence setting standards for professional conduct, scientific rigor and building membership. 

Perhaps most important to them was fellowship with other doctors, as evidenced by always meeting in taverns.  Seriously though, they were men of science and heavily invested in their library because as you might imagine, information was not so readily at their fingertips as it is for us today. 

They valued public health, as demonstrated by their work for clean water, disease and treatment registries. 

They believed in public advocacy and created the first legislative committee in the early 1800s. 

They believed in putting patients first, as shown in our seal depicting the Temple of Faith, Hope and Charity from which continuously flow comfort and compassion to all who seek the aid of the true physician.

These values were reaffirmed again and again over the past two centuries, as when in 1910 NHMS President Granville Conn stated in his presidential address, “The old-school doctor has gone because the conditions that have made him possible are gone as well. But their record of unselfish devotion, self-denying work and purity of life will never be effaced and will stimulate us all for years to come.”

And when earlier this year our president, Cindy Cooper, wrote in the Concord Monitor, “Expanding Medicaid to more low-income adults in New Hampshire is the proper and moral thing to do. Our health is our most important personal asset. I feel it is more important than the condition of the roads or even education … that “the poorest man would not part with health for money, but the richest would gladly part with all their money for health.”

Yet despite the strong values and legacy of good work, we continue to face significant challenges that threaten our patients and the way we practice our profession.  As a result, I propose to focus on three key initiatives during my tenure:

1. Build a robust portfolio of health policy related activities by 2014.  This is a goal that emerged out of our strategic planning work last year.  Developing capacity in this arena will support our work in public health, enable us to lead health system change and strengthen our work on malpractice reform.

2. Reinstate the tobacco tax.  Tobacco kills 1,700 people in New Hampshire every year.  We know that for every 10% increase in tobacco cost we see a 7% decrease in youth smoking and a 4% decrease in adult smoking.  Helping to establish the tobacco tax was a great achievement of this society. We must continue to push this crucial public health issue. The tobacco tax will be an important policy piece of our Million Hearts campaign.

3. Confront the budget crisis. As we all know our state, like many others, is in a fiscal crisis.  Budgets are moral documents that have real impact and speak volumes about our state’s values.  Does this biennium’s budget reflect our values? Is the evisceration of the public health infrastructure consistent with our mission? Do the dramatic cuts to mental health and family planning services improve the well-being of our patients? Does the uncertainty of our healthcare system in this hyper-partisan environment contribute to our deep satisfaction in the practice of medicine? We need to start working now to ensure that the next budget reflects N.H. values and those of the NHMS.  Our most potent tool to reshape the budget is our patients’ stories.  We must and we will share them with our legislature and the next governor.  Disenfranchised citizens of our state feel the impact of the cuts most acutely; our stories give voice to them and argue for a more just, compassionate and responsible budget.” 

Read the entire speech here.