Arnold Relman: 1923 – 2014

Dr. Arnold (“Bud”) Relman died yesterday at 91. He was the most esteemed leader among those who have been dismayed by the commercialization, fragmentation, excessive cost, and relatively poor quality of the U.S. health “system.” In 1980, as editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, Bud sounded the alarm about a danger he fought against almost to the day of his death: “We should not allow the medical-industrial complex to distort our health care system to its own entrepreneurial ends…[Medicine must] serve patients first and stockholders second.”

Bud was a champion – perhaps the champion – on behalf of patient care values and ethical medical practice. But in this post I want to write about him as a model of aging for those of us who are over 65.

My contact with Bud was solely at meetings we attended together over the years. He was 16 years older than I, and as I joined him as a member of the over 65 set I increasingly admired him for his passionate commitment to his core values and the generative way in which he tried to support those who held the same commitments. I especially admired the way in which he could disagree with others in a respectful, friendly, humorous manner. To my eye he was a master of constructive debate and collaborative conflict.

I didn’t know Bud well enough to ask him the questions I posed to my beloved late father-in-law, who died at 91 sixteen years ago. I marveled at my father-in-law’s zest for learning about the fields his grandchildren were working in as journalist, psychologist, teacher, and environmental activist. When I asked him about the basis for his enthusiasm for new learning he seemed puzzled – “What else is there to be interested in but the future?”

I had a similar exchange with the grandmother of one of my daughters-in-law when she was 99. We discovered that we both wished we could return to earth in 500 years – not out of a wish for reincarnation but out of curiosity about how our species and the planet would evolve.

Some years ago when I was talking with a friend about my belief that a substantial number of over 65ers are worried about the impact of runaway Medicare costs on future generations, he responded with an aphorism I’ve treasured ever since: “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

Bud Relman embodied this attitude for me. He didn’t expect to sit in the shade of a clinician-led, patient-oriented single payer system, but he worked tirelessly on behalf of that vision. I understood Bud to be following a “moral faith” that had the force of “religious faith.” Bud was a teacher to the end of his life, via both the content of his ideas and the example of his person.

[The aphorism comes from the title of a book that Wes Henderson (1928-2003), a third-generation Canadian, wrote about his father, Nelson. It’s the advice Nelson gave Wes when Wes graduated from high school. For an extensive obituary for Dr. Relman, see here.]

Jim Sabin, M.D., 75, is an organizer of Over 65, a professor of population medicine and psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and a Fellow of the Hastings Center.

4 Responses to “Arnold Relman: 1923 – 2014”

  1. もっと錦上に花を添えるの来場者は、また感じる「Rolex(ロレックス)愛の中国」というメッセージ、そして有事での証。まず、Rolex(ロレックス)が中国で多額の投資。ロレックスコピー


  2. もしあなたは真剣なの人が見たら、君をもっと知りたいのについて運動は必要の裏切らない、きっとそのななじゅう時間の動力の準備、よんしよ週波数の運行速度は、使用シリコン糸遊。

    もしあなたは真剣なの人が見たら、君をもっと知りたいのについて運動は必要の裏切らない、きっとそのななじゅう時間の動力の準備、よんしよ週波数の運行速度は、使用シリコン糸遊。 ロレックスデイトジャストスーパーコピー すべての都铎運動を認証天文台が、都铎傲慢に発表し、試験の平均を上回っ天文台表標準のよんしよろく秒までの平均毎日提供の結果-に+よんしよ秒/日。全体としては、このように1つのかなりの運動は私にとって。しかし、同じ2015都铎北旗の運動は、この運動は見えない内部を都铎王朝をキャップ。もう一度、これはートル防水時計。

  3. ブレゲチーム三年間かけて設計、開発と完全にこの復雑な腕時計、この時計の最も代表的な試みはその瞬間ジャンプのタイムゾーンの表示システムで、このシステムは同期日付表示、昼/夜

    ブレゲチーム三年間かけて設計、開発と完全にこの復雑な腕時計、この時計の最も代表的な試みはその瞬間ジャンプのタイムゾーンの表示システムで、このシステムは同期日付表示、昼/夜と都市の指示に機械表にとっては、世界で初めて。この機能を簡単に2つの予选旅人読み取りタイムゾーンの時間、ボタンを押すだけでできる時、邪魔のない場合は瞬間からタイムゾーンへの切り替えを別のタイムゾーン。秒を確保することができてシステムを設定する過程の中に正確に変更時、タイムゾーンに影響しない時間を通じて、しかも「追跡システム日付カレンダー実現」と同期日/夜指示。最新アルバムのClassique 5717 Hora Mundi経典シリーズのタイムゾーンの腕時計人気ウブロ偽物コピー「北京時」記念モデルを通じて、ベゼル24タイムゾーン代表都市に入れやハイライト表示「BEIJING」(北京)、広大な中国時計ファン、常に中国への旅行者にもっと便利にサプライズと。