Bob LeBow, former president of Physicians for a National Health Program, died late last month in Boise, Idaho, from the effects of a 2002 bicycle accident.
LeBow, 63, was medical director of three community health clinics in Idaho, providing care to those who can least afford it, according to PNHP.
Just before LeBow's bicycle accident, which rendered him a quadriplegic, his book, Health Care Meltdown, was published, and he pledged to dedicate the rest of his life to healthcare system reform, says Ida Hellander, executive director of PNHP.
"We lost a great champion of national healthcare and of the dignity of the patient," Hellander says. "He had the demeanor and the presence to make his case without angering his opponents or coming across as a radical."
LeBow, a graduate of Harvard Medical School who was fluent in five languages, chose to be a "hands-on" family physician who delivered more than 2,000 babies in his career, Hellander says.
Working at the clinics of Terry Reilly Health Services in Nampa, Idaho, "he felt we shouldn't make people be healthcare beggars," she says.
Hellander says LeBow became a healthcare activist after his son died in an auto accident. He campaigned in the Idaho Legislature for a seat belt requirement, and when it passed by one vote, he realized that he could make a difference, she says.
Every year at meetings of the Idaho Medical Association, Hellander says, LeBow introduced a resolution for a single-payer health system. For years, he was the only one who voted for the resolution, but by the time of his accident, there were three votes for it, she says.
Hellander says LeBow loved to bike, taking his fold-up bicycle on airplane trips all over the world. He even biked solo across Tibet, she says.
His accident took place while riding from his Boise home to Nampa on July 25, 2002. A portion of the brake mechanism apparently caught in his bike wheel, according to the Idaho Statesman newspaper. LeBow was wearing a helmet but landed on his face and the impact broke his neck, the paper says.
-Modern Physician, a sister publication of Modern Healthcare