AMA Delegate Accused of Forwarding Doctored Photo of Obama

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , July 24, 2009

An outspoken American Medical Association delegate from Florida has landed in a boiling cauldron of controversy after being accused of forwarding to opponents of government-mandated healthcare reforms a picture of President Obama depicted as a witch doctor with a caption reading "funny stuff." [Image of e-mail massage and photo. (Warning: This image is offensive and objectionable.)]

David McKalip, MD, a neurosurgeon from St. Petersburg, is the founder of Doctors for Patient Freedom, which is stridently opposed to healthcare reforms that include public-plan health insurance and other government-run reforms.

McKalip did not return calls from HealthLeaders Media. However, the Web site Talking Points Memo reports that McKalip told them that the "artist" who created the Obama image "was expressing concerns that the healthcare proposals [made by President Obama] would make the quality of medical care worse in our country."

TPM says McKalip told them he didn't know who created the picture, which, they report, he forwarded to members of the Tea Party movement on a Google listserv.

The AMA issued this statement today: "Delegates to the American Medical Association are selected through their individual state and specialty societies, and their individual views and actions do not, in any way, represent the official view of the AMA. We condemn any actions or comments that are racist, discriminatory or unprofessional."

The Florida Medical Association on Thursday afternoon issued a statement denouncing the "racist depiction" and made it clear that they do not share McKalip's sense of humor.

"The Florida Medical Association finds the actions by Dr. McKalip to be hurtful and in poor judgment. Further, we find his actions disrespectful to President Obama and the Office of the President. The Florida Medical Association is disappointed by Dr. McKalip's actions and urges Dr. McKalip to extend President Obama an apology for this egregious deed."

FMA spokeswoman Lynne Takacs confirmed that McKalip is chairman of the FMA's Council of Medical Economics, an FMA board of directors' district representative in Florida, and a Florida delegate to the AMA. Takacs says it's not clear if the FMA is planning any other action against McKalip during its annual meeting this weekend in Boca Raton.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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