About the author

I am Pippa Abston, MD, PhD,  a general pediatrician who sees patients as well as teaching medical students and residents in Huntsville, Alabama.  The work published on this blog does not reflect the opinions of my employer or  many of the organizations and boards I belong to.  It started as a way to talk about healthcare reform in terms of insurance, primarily to advocate Improved, Expanded Medicare for All, also known as single payer.  Along the way, the blog itself has expanded into other areas of thinking, such as reproductive health, state politics affecting medicine, and what medicine itself really means to us.

In the process of thinking and writing about healthcare, and just life in general, I have changed quite a bit.  If you read some of the early posts and compare them to more recent ones, you will notice that.  I’ve “met” people online who have, in their responses, helped open up my understanding of politics, human relationships, and the meaning of the medical  profession. I no longer believe there is an easy fix to our current disintegrating healthcare system that can be applied from the top down, partly because good change doesn’t happen that way and partly because the US is not a healthy nation.  We have so much disease in the core of our structure that a change in the healthcare financing model will be insufficient to redeem the practice of medicine within the essentially corrupt container we now inhabit.  However, I’m not overall a pessimist.  I do think it is possible for each of us to develop an attitude of “everybody in, nobody out” and that this change in attitude towards each other is the only meaningful change.  Every good action and system emerges from valuing our human relationships deeply.

I will not publish comments which are personally insulting to anyone or that have language I wouldn’t want my pediatric patients to read, but otherwise I will avoid editing anyone’s opinion, for the sake of diversity.

(revised July 2013)

Addendum, April 3, 2010:  It is customary in medical fields to provide a disclosure of any possible conflicts of interest before a talk or in a research publication.  I am salaried, and my employment contract specifies that I must maintain my “Preferred Medical Doctor” (PMD) status with a specific insurer in our state.   That PMD contract says that I must not do anything to discourage providers or patients from contracting with this insurer.  Therefore, I will not be able to mention any specific insurer in my state by name.

17 responses to “About the author

  1. Wally Retan

    I applaud your blog and admire your energy.

    Wonder about your personal take on the health care legislation just passed?

    • Hi Wally– if you go to the “archives” button on the right, it has a drop-down menu where you can pull up my posts. I have one short post with my initial thoughts about the bill and some replies to comments. Since then I’ve had time to think about a few positive things — not really anything specificially IN the bill, since I think the good parts are deceptive, but about the ability to pass any sort of change at all! I’m going to write a post about that this weekend.

      I’ll edit my homepage so people know to go to the archives– thanks!

  2. Gina Green

    Dr. Abston, thank you so much for your dedication to Health Care Reform – something that is near and dear to my heart. This is especially important to me since I lost my brother Wallace G. Green, Jr. in February, 2010 to colon cancer. My brother Wally worked hard all his life but could not afford health insurance. He put off going to the doctor because he didn’t want to incur huge medical bills that he knew he could’nt pay. So he suffered horrible pain and died a horrible death.

    It’s really hard for me to hear the politicians who brag that they will repeal health care reform, even though I know this reform has a long way to go to provide affordable health care insurance/care for everyone.

    Thank you for your dedication to this enormous task.

  3. Asya

    It is hard to believe that any dedicated physician would oppose single payer system, and yet you and your peers in PNHP are a minority among the physicians. Thank you, Dr. Abston. Keep up the fight!

    • Is it? You should pay special attention to the majority of the profession that this will effect, they may know something you dont. It is telling that such a large majority are completely against it. That tells me that it isnt good for the industry after all.

  4. It’s true that a majority of physicians in Alabama seem to oppose single payer. I haven’t seen any formal surveys. In national surveys, a majority of American physicians favor universal, national health insurance similar to the Canadian system. Organized medicine…the AMA and many state medical societies…oppose ‘single payer’ health care, but organized medicine is dominated by surgical specialists who would be most adversely affected by the economic consequences of effective control of health care cost. The AMA now counts only about 20-25% of American physicians as members.

  5. Thanks Pippa. You go girl. I think we need total socialiazation of medicine..more than single payer. Physicians should work for the state and be paid a reasonable salary but probably far less than they make now. Do you also have Marxist leanings? I hope so. We are recruiting in North Alabama! Linda

    • Not Marxist but social democrat for sure! I have mixed feelings about an NHS type system. On the one hand, salaries make sense– I am salaried, and yes at significantly less than the average because of being a state employee. It is only a problem when I go into debt to get healthcare for a family member! I don’t have a reason to complain otherwise, because I chose it myself– no one forced me.
      It might be a mistake to remove too many elements of choice from the employment options. For instance, right now I am free to choose which specialist to send my patients to and some are out of town (unless there are insurance restrictions on that). I would not want to be forced to refer within a specific network, because it would limit my ability to find the best care for my patients.
      There are many, many studies looking at factors that create quality work/ motivation in all sorts of jobs. It turns out that a sense of autonomy is one of the top 3 factors (financial reward is NOT in the top 3). No, we don’t need to be totally unmonitored– but it would be a bad idea to force doctors to give up too much “free will.” You’d quelch some bad actors, but also some good ones.

  6. Amberly Dhakal

    I cant think of many physicians who would want to do that and make less, but what do I know, I am not a doctor.

  7. Gina Green

    Dr. Abston, just want to thank you for your work with health care reform, something that is near and dear to my heart Keep up the good work.

  8. Pippa, I just have to pop in and say thanks for your advocacy work, especially what you are doing now with SB12 in AL. I’m part of the secular community who has taken an interest in this from a women’s rights perspective. You rock! You and I shared seats on a panel at the Youth Services Council Breakfast last year.

  9. Esther Davis

    Dr. Abston is a wonderful person who works tirelessly for the less fortunate.I was at the Republicans againt Womens Rights protest rally today at Big Spring Park. It was a beautiful day with lots of angry Democrats voicing their opinions about the Legislature passing this awful, insulting bill against women’s health – and how dumb it makes women appear. The real dumb one though is Senator Clay Scofield who wrote the bill. Guess what? He’s 39- year- old farmer who has never been married. I can’t find out for sure if he graduated from college. And he’s telling Pippa Abston, M.D. , PhD, and all women what’s good for us and our bodies. It makes my blood boil.

    Dr. Abston was one of the speakers at today’s rally. Unfortunately, I had to leave for another commitment and did not get to hear her speak.

    Thank you Pippa for all you do for the poor and for all of us.

    Esther Davis

  10. John Lake

    Pipaa is a dedicated person: The the Medical Community and to the People of Alabama..Cheers to Her!

  11. Your blog always shows up in Google when I’m researching the bills in the House and Senate in Alabama. It’s ridiculous how little attention gets turned to these bills, largely due because of our poor quality of local news coverage on topics like women’s reproductive rights. I’m trying to get something off the ground, a hub for women and other activists where we aren’t so spread out and hard to find. If you’re interested in my featuring your blog on my site, Let me know. I love what you have to say.

    • Sure, that would be great! My main reason for starting this was to advocate for Medicare for All, and that’s still my passion. But maybe your readers would be interested in those too. Women’s rights aren’t just about our reproductive organs, right? We have whole bodies that need good healthcare.

  12. Hi Pippa,

    Thanks for this effort and I must appreciate your dedication towards the cause. I have heard many horror stories related to medical and health care system in America, esp those who can’t afford a medical insurance. I hope this Obamacare help solve some of the woes.

    I joined your email list. Look forward to see more interesting reads.

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