Dr. Arnold Relman, physician, academic, and forceful proponent of single payer, passes
It is with great sadness that Mass-Care has learned that our wonderful friend and hero, Dr. Arnold “Bud” Relman, passed away Tuesday June 17th. Dr. Relman was the heart and soul of the single payer movement. He was a leader who began speaking out for a single payer health care system at a time when it took courage to denounce the market-based medical system. His pet lines were that the monetary incentives of the “free market system” were destroying the invaluable doctor-patient relationship and this system was turning medical care into a commodity to be bought and sold. In his position as editor-in-chief of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine from 1977 to 1988, he published key articles about single payer and medical economic justice that raised awareness of the need for bold steps to make healthcare a right for everyone not just for those who had the money to buy insurance.
Dr. Relman was truly Mass-Care’s strongest ally and most dedicated spokesperson. Whether we invited him to talk off the cuff at a single payer barbeque or to deliver the keynote talk at our annual Gala Fundraiser he was always a willing and exuberant voice. In June of 2013 when he was 90 years old he had a serious fall fracturing several bones in his face and his neck. Despite the severe injuries he rallied and was eager and able to give a stirring talk at Mass-Care’s Single Payer Forum that was held in November of 2013.
Dr. Relman and his wife Dr. Marcia Angell were a devoted team. Both have been editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, both have written significant books and articles relating to health care justice and the need for a single payer health care system, and both have been highly admired speakers for Mass-Care. Mass-Care will deeply miss Dr. Relman’s voice, inspiration, and generosity. We send our heartfelt condolences and our great affection to Marcia.
For a more complete account of Dr. Relman’s career please see the obituary written in the Boston Globe on Wed. June 18th.
– Dr. Pat Berger