Medical Workers Feeling a Draft

From Holden:

Forget what the Bush campaign says, folks in the military are saying that we will have a specialist draft of health workers:

The Selective Service has been updating its contingency plans for a draft of doctors, nurses and other health care workers in case of a national emergency that overwhelms the military’s medical corps.

In a confidential report this summer, a contractor hired by the agency described how such a draft might work, how to secure compliance and how to mold public opinion and communicate with health care professionals, whose lives could be disrupted.

On the one hand, the report said, the Selective Service System should establish contacts in advance with medical societies, hospitals, schools of medicine and nursing, managed care organizations, rural health care providers and the editors of medical journals and trade publications.

On the other hand, it said, such contacts must be limited, low key and discreet because “overtures from Selective Service to the medical community will be seen as precursors to a draft,” and that could alarm the public.

[snip]

In a recent article in The Wisconsin Medical Journal, published by the state medical society, Col. Roger A. Lalich, a senior physician in the Army National Guard, said: “It appears that a general draft is not likely to occur. A physician draft is the most likely conscription into the military in the near future.”

Since 2003, the Selective Service has said it is shifting its preparations for a draft in a national crisis toward narrow sectors of specialists, including medical personnel.

Colonel Lalich, citing Selective Service memorandums on the subject, said the Defense Department had indicated that “a conventional draft of untrained manpower is not necessary for the war on terrorism.” But, he said, “the Department of Defense has stated that what most likely will be needed is a ‘special skills draft,’ ” including care workers in particular.

That view was echoed in a newsletter circulated recently by the Selective Service System, which said the all-volunteer force had “critical shortages of individuals with special skills” that might be needed in a crisis.

Isn’t it about time Krugman weighed in on this issue?

Those who are worrying about a revived draft are in the same position as those who worried about a return to budget deficits four years ago, when President Bush began pushing through his program of tax cuts. Back then he insisted that he wouldn’t drive the budget into deficit – but those who looked at the facts strongly suspected otherwise. Now he insists that he won’t revive the draft. But the facts suggest that he will.