Fifty-two medical organizations — including the American Medical Association, which contributed more than $16,000 to President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign — sent a letter to the White House on Tuesday invoking the Newtown, Conn. school shooting tragedy to request increased federal and state funding for medical programs, such as psychiatric care and an educational campaign that “reduces the stigma of seeking mental health services.”
The letter, obtained by The Daily Caller, was signed first by the American Medical Association, followed by 51 other organizations that would benefit from increased government funding, including the American Psychiatric Association, American College of Physicians, American College of Surgeons, American Academy of Family Physicians and American Academy of Pediatrics. (View the letter here)
“The undersigned medical organizations, together representing the vast majority of practicing physicians and medical students in the United States, share the nation’s grief and sadness over the recent tragic school shootings in Connecticut. As physicians, we see first-hand the devastating consequences of gun violence to victims and their families,” the letter begins.
“The investigation into the Connecticut shootings is still continuing, and the issues surrounding such violence are often complex and can vary significantly from case to case. Strategies for preventing gun-related tragedies must also be complex and carefully considered,” according to the letter. (RELATED: Vice President Joe Biden to recommend universal backgrund checks, federal database on gun-related deaths)
After calling a renewed assault weapons ban “a step in the right direction” and advocating for a ban on high-capacity magazines, the letter requests increased funding for medical programs from the White House.
“More resources are needed for safety education programs that promote more responsible use and storage of firearms. Physicians need to be able to have frank discussions with their patients and parents of patients about firearm safety issues and risks to help them safeguard their families from accidents,” according to the letter.
“While the overwhelming majority of patients with mental illness are not violent, physicians and other health professionals must be trained to respond to those who have a mental illness that might make them more prone to commit violence. Funding needs to be available for increased research on violence prevention in general, and on the epidemiology of gun-related injuries and deaths in particular, as well as to implement available evidence-based interventions,” the letter states.
“Of equal importance is providing sufficient access to mental health services. While we strongly supported the passage of the Mental Health Parity Act of 2008, unfortunately, the promise of better access to psychiatric treatment will not be a reality absent requisite federal and state funding. This effort should be combined with an education campaign that reduces the stigma of seeking mental health services,” the letter continues.”
“Newtown, Connecticut has now been added to the sad litany of recent mass shootings, including Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Arizona, and Aurora. As we come together as a nation to mourn the most recent victims of senseless gun violence, we must make a real and lasting commitment to work together on meaningful solutions to prevent future tragedies.”
The American Medical Association contributed more than $1.5 million to political candidates during the 2012 election cycle. Obama topped all recipients of the Association’s contributions, taking $16,062 for his presidential re-election campaign. The American Medical Association also spent more than $12.9 million lobbying during the 2012 election cycle.
Health professionals contributed more than $10 million to President Obama’s re-election campaign, making the health industry Obama’s fourth-largest donor industry.
One of the organizations that signed the letter confirmed the existence of the letter to theDC but declined to immediately comment. Selected other organizations that signed the letter did not provide comment.