BRI is a 501(c)3 tax-deductible public charity that unites medical students, residents, fellows, and doctors from across the political spectrum — as well as members of the general public — who believe that the medical profession calls its practitioners to serve their patients, rather than the government. We believe that the doctor-patient relationship is a voluntary and mutually beneficial one. Both parties have a right to enter it freely. The proper role of government is to protect this freedom, not to diminish it.
Healthcare is one of the most important policy issues today. Indeed, we believe that no public policy issue impacts American lives more profoundly than healthcare. Yet most medical students fail to understand the true impact — both on their future practices and on their relationships with patients — of the Affordable Care Act and other key healthcare policies currently deliberated in Washington DC and state capitols across the nation.
American medical schools are among the finest institutions in the world, graduating healthcare professionals with outstanding knowledge and skills. Young people come here from all over the world to avail themselves of an American medical education. As a country, we are blessed to have some of the best and brightest the world has to offer.
Sadly, the days are gone when doctors could practice their profession without significant political interference. Because healthcare policy has such a direct and pervasive effect on patient care, medical students must understand healthcare policy in addition to medical sciences. What we’ve discovered, however, is that medical schools rarely provide a balanced presentation of health policy. Instead of examining competing ideas and holding open discussions about the best healthcare options, students are presented solutions permeated by the assumption that government should and must play a predominant role. If discussed at all, private options and freedom of choice are dismissed as unrealistic, inherently corrupt or unjust. On some campuses, the government’s role is not even to be questioned.
As reported in a recent email we received (italics added):
“I initially heard about Benjamin Rush Institute after a simple Google search for free market healthcare groups at med schools. Half of my education here at U—- is intense sciences, and the other half is advocating for national healthcare systems, raising the minimum wage, income redistribution, and a variety of other public health policies. I got fed up with it and found your organization online.”
And this is not the first or only report of its kind.
A clinical professor of medicine reported this experience:
“I recently gave a forum on private practice to first year medical students at [a north eastern university]. An older student with considerable work experience and a successful career prior to medical school approached me. He said that he and a classmate raised questions about ‘single payer medical financing’ with one of their public health teachers. She complained to the school administration and word came down that students are not to criticize single payer. He is afraid to start a Benjamin Rush Institute Chapter.”
This is obviously very disconcerting, and highlights the barriers we face to honest, open discussion. Freedom doesn’t occur in pockets – free here, but not so free there. As these encounters illustrate, when economic freedom is infringed, our freedom of speech is also at risk. Not only are students adversely affected by the stifling of free thought and open, honest debate for workable answers, over the years we have also heard from medical school faculty who fear that speaking out against the ACA will jeopardize their contracts, their chances at tenure, and even their research funding.
These stories should strike us all deeply and cause concern — not because they relate to healthcare, but because these attitudes are pervasive and encompass all of free speech.
BRI seeks to be the voice of moderated reason, reaching medical students and healthcare professionals who yearn for liberty and preserving the doctor-patient relationship without undue government and regulatory intervention. We give these students a voice, hope, and wind in their sails to overcome the push towards socialized, over-regulated healthcare. We have clear goals and strategies designed to increase Benjamin Rush Institute (“BRI”) Chapters, employing best practices to ensure their continued growth, continuity and success, and thereby gain public and professional membership growth and continuity.
By establishing many BRI Chapters on medical schools throughout the country, we can extend our educational reach, impact the culture of healthcare policy to standing for doctor-patient autonomy, and create a lasting legacy of healthcare freedom and medical excellence. Future medical practitioners will understand it, and demand it.
Dr. Rush was a leading doctor in the American founding era and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He believed in the profession of medicine and in the founding principles of America, and he viewed them as complementary, not mutually exclusive.
According to Dr. Rush and the other founders, rights aren’t given by government but are inherent in human nature. It is the duty of government to secure these rights, not to create artificial rights while rationing our natural rights. The founders’ desire was to establish a government that would promote human happiness and—to them the same thing—secure the blessings of liberty. They believed that for government to achieve these ends, it must be limited and must adhere to a principle strikingly similar to a guiding principle of medicine: First, do no harm.
Should we build facts upon facts until our pile reached the heavens, they would soon tumble to pieces unless they were cemented by principles … Medicine without principles … is a degrading occupation … but directed by principles, it imparts the highest elevation to the intellectual and moral character of man.
– Benjamin Rush, MD, Lectures Upon the Institutes and Practice of Medicine (1811)
Fully unleash the power of medicine to maximize human health and well-being.
Promote solutions that protect the doctor-patient relationship as the primary means of delivering quality medical care, empowered by a robust free enterprise system, which fosters innovation and reduces costs.
To accomplish BRI’s mission, we:
Establish BRI Chapters and Affiliates throughout the United States, with a focus on reaching medical students;
Provide educational debates, lectures, events and resources emphasizing the essential role of the doctor-patient relationship and free enterprise for ensuring optimal patient outcomes at affordable prices;
Equip medical professionals with the knowledge and skills to be effective ambassadors for freedom in medicine.
A world of affordable, quality healthcare accompanied by accelerating medical innovation and excellence.
Throughout the school year, student leaders schedule lectures and discussions which feature healthcare economists, doctors, and policy experts. We also stage debates at schools across the country — at Harvard, Columbia, George Washington, Duke, University of Colorado, Stanford, Baylor, Texas A&M, and Yale. Through debate, lectures and discussions, the Institute broadens student understanding of complex issues by providing a voice for the woefully neglected free market perspective. These events uniquely introduce students to alternative solutions to the health care challenges and controversies which will significantly impact their future careers in medicine.
Although we believe the primary solution to scarcity is the productive power of the free enterprise system, voluntary exchange also entails private charity. Through partnership with organizations such as the AlignMD Foundation and Grass Roots Alliance for Community Education, the Benjamin Rush Institute provides students with unique opportunities to learn about global healthcare challenges while simultaneously contributing to desperately needed humanitarian efforts.
By joining BRI, members can participate with a network of like-minded students and medical professionals who share our principles. They also gain opportunities to promote and engage in events that advocate for the doctor-patient relationship and explore free enterprise solutions to our healthcare challenges. Members have access to a wealth of information and support resources, whether as an event organizer or someone simply seeking more knowledge.
Membership dues and individual donations support the BRI Speaker Series and the BRI-LC (Benjamin Rush Leadership Conference) where medical students across the country are offered full and partial attendance scholarships. Student members who engage in promoting events or volunteering in our many outreach areas gain valuable training in leadership and advocacy skills. Professional members are kept abreast of our activities along with opportunities to mentor physicians-in-training. Please consider joining BRI today and supporting our important work.