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Progress Notes features doctors and medical students across the country on the frontlines of our health care system. Our views and experiences are diverse, but we share common goals and values. We speak up to move toward a future where everyone can have access to affordable, high-quality health care. Please share our posts, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!


ACA Round Up - February 17, 2017

By Shalini Pammal
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TAKE ACTION

  • Host a house meeting during the Congressional recess week. Host a meeting to make a plan to ensure sure your members of Congress are hearing from doctors, medical students, and community members about the real impact of the ACA. In these challenging times, the power we build locally is more important than ever before. Meeting resources below:
  • Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are hosting nationwide rallies in defense of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Medicare, during the recess period. Contact your Representative to find out if there is an event in your area. Then join a rally in your white coats and send photos and a brief description to DFAHQ@drsforamerica.org

  • Please join us for the 2017 Doctors for America National Leadership Conference to be held in Tampa, Florida on May 6-7thA leadership training will be offered for a limited number of members on Friday, May 5th. Mark your calendars. Registration will be opening soon.

 

WEEK-AT-A-GLANCE

Yesterday, House Republican leaders held a meeting to enumerate their plans to repeal-and-replace the Affordable Care Act. This meeting came as leaders attempt to unite sharply divided GOP members around a single replacement plan, and quell rising public fears around repeal without a viable alternative. The newly released plan incorporates tax credits, an expansion of health savings accounts, funding for high risk pools and a reduction in Medicaid funding to pre-expansion levels. The plan largely reflects the 'Better Way' proposal that Speaker Paul Ryan released last summer; but, does not include changes to Medicare, which President Donald Trump has stated he will not support converting into a voucher program. This plan follows another House Freedom Caucus proposal, introduced on Wednesday by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC), reinforcing GOP discordance on key issues. House Freedom Caucus leaders also demanded that congressional Republicans re-pass the 2015 budget reconciliation bill to vote to repeal most of the Affordable Care Act. The bill was previously passed and vetoed by former President Barack Obama.

Concurrently, there are efforts to continue moving forward with current ACA challenges. Following Trump's executive order on health care, the IRS has planned to ease enforcement of the individual mandate, an Obamacare provision which requires people to have insurance coverage or risk fines. This change is accompanied by new reforms proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to stabilize the individual and group health insurance markets for 2018. Constricting the annual enrollment period, adjusting minimum coverage standards and deferring review of provider network adequacy to the states are among several policy and operational changes detailed in the proposed regulations. The rule has drawn mixed reviews from industry groups and experts.

Despite actions intended to stabilize the markets, health insurance players are still hesitant to fully participate in the Obamacare exchanges. Humana has also announced that it will withdraw from the federal marketplaces in 2018. This will affect approximately 150,000 consumers in 11 states where Humana is currently selling Obamacare plans. Aetna made a similar decision in early February, indicating that insurers need more clarity on the road ahead.

And just as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposed these reforms, Seema Verma faced ethical questions regarding conflicts of interest during her Senate Finance Committee hearing to oversee the agency. It is expected that Verma will be confirmed on a party line vote, much like other Trump administration nominees. Deviating from other contentious nominations though, David Shulkin was swiftly and unanimously confirmed as Veterans' Affairs Secretary. He has vowed to increase accountability, dramatically improve access and expand care options, and assuaged fears that the VA system would be privatized, stating in his testimony: "The Department of Veterans Affairs will not be privatized under my watch." Meanwhile, Democratic leadership has called for nationwide rallies against Obamacare repeal, on February 25th. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) issued a letter encouraging Democratic senators to lead rallies in their states at the end of the February congressional recess week. 

Lastly, the biopharmaceutical industry is pushing back on a Trump proposal to deregulate the Food & Drug Administration. The industry is already under fire for high prices, including Marathon Pharmaceuticals LLC which recently 'paused' the launch of its $89,000-a-year musculary dystrophy drug. Moreover, pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms cite that a loose approval process limits industry ability to prove the value of more expensive medicines, especially as payers are increasingly seeking evidence of value and improved outcomes. 

 

MEMBERS IN ACTION

Maryland Meetings 

Justin Lowenthal MD/PhD student shares that DFA MD and Hopkins University held a chapter meeting to discuss recent developments around the ACA.

The Hopkins Chapter of Doctors for America also put on an interprofessional phone banking event with medical, nursing, public health students, and residents. The students called senators urging them to protect the ACA. The event was jointly organized by DFA and #ProtectOurPatients.

North Carolina March

Dr. Seanta Clark attended the HKonJ march in Raleigh, NC. Approximately 100,000 people came together for the march which theme was "Forward Together, Not One Step Back."

Dr. Howard Eisenson also stood alongside a white coat brigade” of  professionals from across for the march on Raleigh. The event drew over 100 white coats including many medical students.

 

Ohio #ProtectOurPatients Forum 

Gloria Tavera, an MD/PhD student from CWRU, participated in a #ProtectOurPatients health justice community forum where a team of 60 people formed to take on health care justice in Northeast Ohio. More photos from the event are available here.

Pennsylvania House Meeting 

Five Pittsburgh-area physicians Drs. Sharon Altman, Jessica Gannon, Sarah Larkin, Jason Rosenstock and Holly Stewart met February 11th for a health care advocacy and strategy session, inspired by Doctors for America.  The team provide mutual support and developed ways to move forward with action, such as writing letters to the editor, talking to our patients about the current situation, donating to key causes/organizations, and contacting our elected representatives.  They plan to involve colleagues and track progress over time, staying in touch as we move forward.

Texas Physician Meeting 

Dr. Laeeq Khan hosted a meeting with five Houston area physicians and medical students on Sunday Feb 12 to discuss efforts to repeal the health law.  

Washington Meeting 

Dr. Lisa Plymate joined with doctors and medical students for a meeting of about 20 people, including University of Washington medical students, in Seattle.

Tell us about what you are up to! We want to hear about your outreach -- both big and small -- so we can report it in this update each week. We also love to include photos of your activities so snap a picture of yourself in action. Email your updates and photos to DFAHQ@drsforamerica.org
 

KEY ARTICLES

CMS issues proposed rules for 2018 marketplace plans

Kaiser Family Foundation: Tool to compare proposals to replace the Affordable Care Act

Modern Healthcare: Why high-risk pools won't crack the pre-existing condition dilemma

NPR Health News: Republican health care proposal would cover fewer low-income families

Vox: Congress is repealing a rule that makes it harder for people with mental illness to buy a gun

New York Times: Angry Town Hall Meetings on Health Care Law, and few Answers

 

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ACA Round Up - February 10, 2017

By Shalini Pammal
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Doctors for America is circulating a news round-up to help keep our membership updated on the latest in health reform and ACA repeal activities in the United States. For additional information on how to take action, please visit the DFA ACA resource page. 
 
Tell us about what you are up to! We want to hear about your outreach -- both big and small -- so we can report it in this update each week. We also love to include photos of your activities so snap a picture of yourself in action. Email your updates and photos to DFAHQ@drsforamerica.org
 
 
Best wishes,
Shalini Pammal
 
ACA Round Up - February 10, 2017
 
TAKE ACTION
CALL-IN DAY: While many calls are being driven into offices, sustained outreach to Congress is a very important component of keeping up the pressure to keep people covered especially as we head toward in-district actions during the February recess. To that end, SEIU is having another national call-in day on Tuesday, Feb. 14 and they are having activists take an additional step by posting on their social media platforms a personalized video, photo and/or written message about how they, their loved ones or patients would be affected if affordable healthcare, including Medicaid, is taken away. They are using the hashtag #WhatsYourPlan and asking folks to tag their members of Congress to get a greater reach. 
 
Please join SEIU by sharing the call-in numbers: 866-426-2631 (English) and 877-736-7831 (Spanish). There is also a Facebook event invite that would be helpful to promote. 
 
DONATE: Tom Price was confirmed today as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Sec. Price takes over a time when the future of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and even Medicare are in jeopardy. Millions of patients are relying on the voices of doctors and medical students to protect their care. Please take a moment to give what you can to help ensure we have the funds necessary in the year ahead. Give today.
WEEK-AT-A-GLANCE
The confirmation today of Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services is seen as a necessary step forward in the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Already, the administration has started to pull Obamacare mentions from the White House website, which demonstrates their zealous intent to initiate rapid repeal of the health law. Other terminology being floated for the scale-back process is  'Reconciliation Plus' or 'repeal and repair'. All of this still reflects the reality that there is still no consensus on a final strategy or replacement plan for the ACA.  President Trump has said that his administration would release their own plan soon after Tom Price's confirmation. The House Freedom Caucus has stated that they will also introduce their bill next week, one that is said to be similar to Senator Rand Paul's (R-KY) proposal. 
On Sunday, President Trump stated that a replacement for the ACA could stretch into 2018, a much longer time frame than he previously indicated. Paul Ryan has restated that a March to April timeframe is still the goal. Likewise there was some confusion this week about President Trump's position on Medicare drug price negotiation. Biopharma stock prices fell once again when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer indicated that President Trump supported these negotiations. Spicer’s comments took investors by surprise after Trump appeared to have backed away from the idea last week after a meeting with top pharmaceutical CEOs.
On Wednesday, House Democrats gathered in Baltimore for their annual three-day retreat to strategize for the upcoming session of Congress.  The theme for the retreat was “Fighting for All Americans,” and included a report on the 2016 election. Democrats are currently in resistance mode in regard to Trump's nominees and policies; but, some are questioning whether this is the right strategy to adopt. A new poll from Morning Consult and Politico suggests that while 56% of Democratic voters want their party to pursue obstruction, the majority of most other major demographics want Democrats to cooperate with the new president and Republican-controlled Congress. This insight could potentially guide congressional approaches to health reform and other health policy legislation moving forward.
This week Republicans also faced increased public backlash in town hall meetings. ACA supporters flooded town hall events this week in California, Florida and Utah, where Republican lawmakers faced jeering crowds and tough questions about repealing the ACA without an alternative in place. In tandem, polls are suggesting that Americans still don't understand that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are one in the same. 
Advocacy and industry groups are also positioning themselves for a battle on various fronts. AARP is considering filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration over a potential age rating band change that was disclosed in a leaked HHS draft rule last week. And increasingly, states are taking action to shore up their health insurance market. Minnesota, for example, passed a one-time bailout for consumers in the individual insurance market facing high premiums, rejected an attempt to let insurers' offer bare bones coverage and laid the groundwork for public option for the individual market. Lastly, the 9th Circuit upheld the stay on Trump's immigration orderyesterday evening, signaling relief for many in the healthcare workforce serving patients in rural areas who depend on foreign-born physicians and healthcare professionals. We can expect there to be an appeal from the administration in the coming weeks, alongside continued reconciliation hearings and executive action from HHS Secretary Tom Price.
 
DOCTORS IN ACTION
 
We are excited to share 80 people from across the country have signed up to host house meetings in the coming weeks! Dr. Seanta Clark got us started by holding a house meeting with community leaders to discuss the Affordable Care Act. During the meeting participants wrote postcards to their legislators and scheduled in district meetings.
 

Doctors for America statement on confirmation of Tom Price as HHS Secretary:

"Doctors across the country are caring for patients who rely on Medicare, Medicaid, and their new insurance and protections gained through the Affordable Care Act.  We disagree with Secretary Price's previous policy positions that we believe would weaken these programs for patients.  We therefore call upon him as a fellow physician to examine the evidence and work with us to increase access to healthcare for everyone, especially those who need it the most." Read more here. 

Doctors for America statement regarding the announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services about the most recent enrollment period:

“The latest enrollment numbers show that millions of people still rely on the Affordable Care Act for access to lifesaving coverage. It also proves the ACA Marketplace is strong, despite claims to the contrary. Republicans in Congress should not pull the rug out from under Americans by repealing this healthcare law, which remains a lifeline for millions.” Read more here 
 
KEY ARTICLES
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Op-Ed from DFA Board Member Ethan Rome:

 

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ACA Round Up - February 3, 2017

By Shalini Pammal
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 ACA Round Up - February 3, 2017
  
TAKE ACTION
 
Get together locally to save healthcare. Will you host a 45-minute get together to plan for the upcoming Congressional recess? 
Email us at DFAHQ@drsforamerica.orgFor those of you who have already reached out, we are in the process of getting back to you asap.
 
Never done anything like this before? That's great! Here's what you do:
  1. Recruit one person to join you, and pick a day and time that works for you both, ideally before February 18.  Even two people getting together is more fun and productive than watching the news or your Facebook feed. While Doctors for America mainly organizes doctors and medical students, you are welcome to invite anyone you want.
  2. We'll send you resources including a sample agenda, actions to take during the meeting, a summary of what's happening in DC, and ways to reach out to Doctors for America members and like-minded organizations in your area.

Together, we can have a powerful impact on what happens in DC.

WEEK-AT-A-GLANCE

Following the Republican retreat held last Thursday, there is still little clarity into how an ACA replacement plan will take shape. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing for quick replacement, it seems some key Republican lawmakers are shifting their 'repeal and replace' goal to the more moderate goal of repairing the signature health law. It is unclear, however, the degree to which this is a shift in messaging versus policy. Senate Democrats have continued efforts to block the drive for repeal, honing in on women's issues, and even going so far as to boycott the confirmation vote for Tom Price, an avowed Obamacare opponent, for Secretary of Health and Human Services. However, attempts to boycott were not successful as the Senate Finance Committee changed the rules and voted to move Price's confirmation to the entire Senate.

Simultaneously, some states are working to preserve certain aspects of the ACA. Hawaiian lawmakers are working to merge popular ACA provisions (e.g., consumer protections) into state law, suggesting interest in a replacement plan that allows states to keep the ACA if they desire. Several Republican governors who expanded Medicaid under the federal health law, including Vice President Pence's home state of Indiana, are also seeking regulatory waivers to extend funding. Additionally, David J. Shulkin (nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs) vowed to reform but not privatize veteran's health care – in contrast to Trump's campaign promise to allow veterans to choose private health care. These moves by states and leading department officials suggest continued uncertainty concerning a clear health reform plan moving forward.

Tuesday marked the final day of Open Enrollment for 2017 coverage through healthcare.gov and the state-based marketplaces. Despite a last minute move by the Trump administration to pull millions of dollars worth of ads and confusion over coverage and the future of the health law, over 12 million people chose insurance plans.  

Stakeholders across the health care industry have continued to express concern regarding ramifications of ACA repeal. Hospitals nationwide could take a big financial hit, as a result of the reduction in Medicaid revenue and the increase in unpaid medical bills. Furthermore, it is likely that repeal will hamper innovations and progress made by hospitals that have significantly invested in accountable care organizations (ACOs) and value-based care programs. Leaders for the health insurance industry have warned that health plans will defect from the ACA marketplaces, unless there are more concrete assurances from Congress and the Trump administration. Aetna has already signaled that it will not expand involvement in the individual marketplace in 2018, citing GOP delay on replacement and "the unclear nature of where regulation's headed." 

President Trump hosted pharmaceutical executives at the White House this week, calling for lower drug prices and fewer regulations. This meeting followed an executive order also aimed at deregulation – requiring executive departments or agencies to remove at least two previously implemented regulations for every new one issued—the "one-in, two-out" rule. While some industry stakeholders are lauding this move, the call for fewer regulations in the pharmaceutical industry has drawn mixed reviews. Though PhRMA and other pharma industry leaders have voiced support for market-based reforms that lower drug prices and decrease regulation, plans for a "revolution at the FDA" did not resonate so well with biotech executives. Likewise, in response to the "one-in, two-out rule," some privacy & data security experts are questioning whether this will create a disincentive for important regulations, such as HIPAA-related measures.

Also noteworthy this week was the nomination of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court, and an executive order on immigration—both actions that will considerably influence the trajectory of health reform. Abortion rights groups immediately criticized the Gorsuch nomination, given his previous rulings. In two cases that involved the contraception mandate under the ACA, Gorsuch sided with businesses and non-profit groups that voiced religious objections to the requirement that they provide cost-free contraception to women. He has also expressed opposition to physician-assisted suicide, casting doubt on the future legality of "death with dignity" laws, which currently exist in four states, and are being considered by at least twenty more. The move to deny citizens and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries entry into the United States sent shockwaves throughout the nation and was met with widespread protests, including objection from physicians and healthcare professionals who cite international exchange as fundamental to American medicine.  Many new stories have also come out about U.S. doctors from those seven countries who are being denied entry back into the country to continue patient care as well as patients who are no longer able to come for lifesaving treatments.
  
MEMBERS IN ACTION 
 
#DoNoHarm Medical Student Day of Action 

On Tuesday, medical students from around the country joined together for a #DoNoHarm Day of Action to stand in solidarity with the millions of Americans whose lives would be endangered by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Students conducted teach-ins, rallies, and public protests to highlight the catastrophic consequences of repealing the ACA. Read more.
 
 
Ohio Doctor Speaks Out to Save Health Care
 
Doctors for America's Ohio State Director Dr. Donald Nguyen offers his advice on fixing health care in this Dayton Daily News op-ed.
 
 
DFA DECRIES IMMIGRATION EXECUTIVE ORDER
 
Doctors for America's Dr. Krishnan Narasimhan issued a strong statement condemning the Executive Order issued by the Trump administration which suspended the admission of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, indefinitely banned all Syrian refugees, and blocked citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, refugees or otherwise, from entering the United States for 90 days. Read it here.
 
DFA SPEAKS OUT ON PRICE NOMINATION 
 
Doctors for America Chair Dr. Mona Mangat released a statement regarding the approval of Rep. Tom Price by Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee. We continue to believe Rep. Tom Price is the wrong choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Service. Our full statement is here.
 
 KEY ARTICLES
 
 

Trump calls for lower drug prices, fewer regulations in meeting with pharmaceutical executives 

 
 
 

 

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#DoNoHarm Medical Student Day of Action


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On Tuesday, medical students from around the country joined together to stand in solidarity with the millions of Americans whose lives would be endangered by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Students conducted teach-ins, rallies, and public protests to highlight the catastrophic consequences of repealing the ACA.

In addition to raising awareness, students demanded that members of Congress take a stand against repeal proposals that threaten the health and wellbeing of patients at risk. Collectively, students pledged to fight to protect and expand healthcare access for millions of Americans who depend on the law.

It is outrageous that Congress and the administration would act to cause 43,000 unnecessary deaths per year. Take a look below at some of the events and activities medical students participated in across the country as part of the effort to demand Congress #DoNoHarm.

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

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Students took advantage of cancelled classes to participate in three workshops (letter writing, phone banking, and know-your-rights training) before attending a teach-in that focused on the effects of the ACA on patients and the harmful impact of repeal.

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After spending the morning learning about the ACA, students marched to the New York City die-in where they formed part of the 300 medical students who participated. (c/o Reena Karani, reena.karani@mssm.edu)

Morsani College of Medicine

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Despite last-minute planning, over 15 students came together to call their representatives and demand they protect the ACA. (c/o Sarah Iqbal, saiqbal@health.usf.edu)

Weill Cornell Medical College

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Students joined together in a march that ended in the Belfer Research Building for a “sit-in” before continuing to march to the New York City die-in. (c/o Chris Gamboa, cmg2006@med.cornell.edu)

Western University of Health Sciences

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Over 60 students came together for a “teach-in” about the history of healthcare in the United States and possible future directions. The students then joined together to write postcards to their representatives. (c/o Hardeep Kaur Singh, hardeep.singh@westernu.edu)

Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

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Around 25 students jointed together for a rally in support of the ACA and pledged future actions to contact representatives and hospital administrators. (c/o nsous29@gmail.com)

University of Maryland School of Medicine

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15 students came together to phone bank in support of the ACA and against the nomination of Rep. Tom Price. Students also started planning a Baltimore-wide community forum to discuss health justice and graduate student activism. (c/o Owen Lee Park, Owen.LeePark@som.umaryland.edu)

Saint Louis University School of Medicine

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Around 20 students joined together for a die-in in solidarity with patients endangered by repeal of the ACA. (c/o Dylan Hanami, hanami@slu.edu)

Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine

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Approximately 100 students rallied together to protect the ACA and discuss the importance of accessible and affordable healthcare. (c/o Pratiksha Yalakkishettar, pyalakkishettar@gmail.com)

University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine

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Over 30 students made 200 calls in support of the ACA and to protest the nomination of Rep. Tom Price as well as the executive order on immigration. (c/o Erin Duralde, Erin.Duralde@gmail.com)

University of Washington School of Medicine

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Approximately 25 students, faculty, and staff came together to share stories of how the ACA impacted their lives, families, and patients. In addition, students created a digital tool for students to call from around the the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) region, as many of students are not based in Seattle. Each participant called Senator Lisa Murkowski's office, because WWAMI students potentially rotate in Alaska and care for Alaskans who are transported to both the Harborview and University of Washington hospitals. (c/o James Wykowski, jwykow@uw.edu)

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine

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40 students joined together to rally in support of the ACA and close to 60 students signed letters sent to local representatives in support of the ACA. (c/o Hoff Nathan, nhoff@tcmc.edu)

Sidney Kimmel Medical College

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Around 175-200 students joined together to rally together in support of the ACA. (c/o Kathryn Linder, kml016@jefferson.edu)

Mayo Clinic School of Medicine

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Nearly 25 percent of the entire medical student body attended a lunch talk in support of the ACA that focused on healthcare payment options; how to protect future patients; and how to advocate as medical students. (c/o Charlene Gaw, Gaw.Charlene@mayo.edu)

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

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Over 50 students came together in a show of solidarity for patients who are threatened by repeal of the ACA. (c/o Elisa Giusto, elisagi@pcom.edu)

Geisel School of Medicine

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Nearly half of the medical student body came together to learn about the ACA and effects of repeal from Dr. Eliot Fisher, who helped write the ACA. (c/o Megan LaPorte, megan.rose.laporte@gmail.com)

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

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41 students came together to write representatives in support of the ACA and discuss future activism efforts. (c/o Akshaya Arjunan, aka31@pitt.edu)

Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University

About 50 students at Brown University's Warren Alpert Medical School gathered at a community forum Monday as part of a nationwide day of action to support patients at risk of losing health insurance coverage. Read more from the Providence Journal here

 

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ACA Round Up 1-27-17

By Shalini Pammal
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ACTION

All outreach to consumers around the January 31 Open Enrollment deadline has been canceled. Here's the ad that is now off the air. Now more than ever, it's important that we let our patients know about their coverage options. Please share as this may save the life of someone you know. 

SHARE: All outreach about the enrollment deadline has been canceled. But you can still #GetCovered by Jan 31 at healthcare.gov.

Week-at-a-Glance

Following the inauguration of Donald J. Trump last week as 45th President of the United States of America, the President signed a series of Executive Orders, one of which included an order to "take all actions consistent with the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens" of the federal health law. This order however, is situated within a surge in public support for the healthcare law, evidenced by rallies held across the country, including the March for Women in Washington, D.C. and cities across the globe. Significant decisions from the Senate and the House to repeal the signature healthcare law last week were followed by a slower timeline for the budget reconciliation process, motivated in large part due to a shift in public sentiment for the Affordable Care Act, and lack of a viable replacement plan, about which some GOP leaders voiced concern.

Some replacement plans have been presented, including the Cassidy-Collins "Patient Freedom Act of 2017" as well as the "Empowering Patients First Act" plan from Representative Tom Price. Republican leadership convened at their annual retreat this past week to coalesce around a replacement plan for Obamacare, joined by President Trump and Vice President Pence. Additionally, Price testified in his second of two hearings for Secretary of Health and Human Services, facing inquiry regarding his position on Medicare, Medicaid and ACA replacement plans, as well as ethical questions regarding stock trades.

Next week, we are expecting to see Supreme Court nominations for the seat left vacant by Justice Scalia. Among likely contenders are Judge Neil M. Gorsuch and Judge William H. Pryor, Jr. Gorsuch is best known for his vote to accommodate religious objections to the regulations requiring employers to provide free contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Pryor has also explicitly states that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion, was "the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history."

As uncertainty continues to pervade the political landscape, it is increasingly important to continue putting pressure on Republican leadership to act in the interest of patients not politics and avoid repeal now and replace later for the sake of millions across the nation.

Members in Action

March on Washington - This past weekend, Kyle Ragins, MD MBA and Isabel Chen, MD led doctors and medical students in a march on Washington to protect our patients. White coats also united with concerned citizens to march in support of the right of everyone to receive quality, affordable care in cities across the country.

Members of DFA pose together at the March on Washington.

Save My Care Bus Tour - Dr. Alice Chen spoke at the kick-off of the Save My Care bus tour in Washington, DC. The bus will be traveling across the country. It made it's first stop in NYC where Drs. Bruce Rector and Katherine Scheirman attended to show support. The tour then rolled in Maine where Dr. Cathleen London rode the bus to stops in Augusta and Bangor where she spoke about the importance of protecting patients care.

Dr. Chen stands with a cancer survivor at the bus tour kick-off in DC.

Drs. Scheirman and Rector rally with fellow physicians at the NYC bus stop.

Dr. London poses at a stop in Bangor, ME on the Save My Care bus tour.

Meetings with Senators - DFA-NYC joined physicians organizations in NYC to met with Senator Gillibrand's office where they praised her for her strong support for the ACA and women’s health and discussed efforts to repeal the law and block grant Medicaid. Drs. Ragins and Chen conducted 5 meetings with local doctors and Republican Senators from Louisiana, Tennessee, West Virginia, Arizona and Ohio to express their concern with rushing to repeal the healthcare law without an adequate replacement.

NYC Doctors pose outside Sen. Gillibrand's office.

Key Articles

Everything you need to know about Block Grants - the heart of GOP's Medicaid Plans

"President Donald Trump's administration made explicit this weekend its commitment to an old GOP strategy for managing Medicaid, the federal-state insurance plan that covers low-income people – turning control of the program to states and capping what the federal government spends on it each year."

Repealing the Affordable Care Act will kill more than 43,000 people annually

Nearly 400 health care experts urge Congress to reject Trump's HHS secretary

15% of primary care doctors favor repeal

Expert opinion on ACA repeal and delay strategy

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published a report on estimated changes in health insurance coverage and premiums resulting from a repeal of major provisions in the Affordable Care Act.

 

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Doctors and Medical Students Visit Senator Gillibrand’s New York office

By Dr. Katherine Scheirman
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Worried about the potential of new Federal legislation and executive actions to hurt our patients, and even our own families, Doctors for America - New York (DFA-NY) organized a meeting with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Special Assistant for Community Affairs in Manhattan on January 24. The process was simple: Get a group of doctors together, find out who on the legislator’s staff is responsible for health care issues, send an email and request a meeting. You’ll be glad you did!

Dr. Bruce Rector and Dr. Katherine Scheirman (DFA-NY), Dr. Andrew Goldstein (DFA-NY, Progressive Doctors),and Brian Deutsch & James Blum (DFA-NY and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai medical students, attended the meeting. Representing NY Doctors (@NYDocs), a coordinating group for 25 physician organizations in New York, were Dr. Jonathan Arend and Dr. Marc Manseau from the National Physicians Alliance.

We praised Senator Gillibrand’s strong support for the ACA and women’s health (check out this video), and for her work to lower the rising cost of prescription drugs for consumers. We discussed issues including our opposition to repeal of the Affordable Care and block granting of Medicaid, and our support for Medicare negotiating lower prices for Part D.  As the only person in the room old enough to be on Medicare, I expressed my strong opposition to Medicare being turned into a voucher program for seniors.

We told him about Mt. Sinai School of Medicine cancelling all classes for 1st and 2nd year students Jan 25 for a teach-in on the ACA repeal. He told us that he appreciated hearing about actions such as this one.

We asked Senator Gillibrand to work to prevent confirmation of Tom Price, the nominee for Department of Health and Human Services Secretary.

We felt the meeting was very productive, and appreciated the ideas for action discussed that physicians and medical students can take which will have a real impact.

Although it is often difficult to meet with your Senators, because they are very busy and usually in Washington, meeting with and building a good relationship with their staff in your home state can be extremely beneficial to your advocacy for your patients. I would encourage everyone to find the closest office of their own Senators and try to schedule a meeting with their health policy staff.

Katherine Scheirman, MD

 

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The resistance continues


.

Doctors and medical students hit the streets this weekend to march to protect our patients. In cities across the country, white coats united with concerned citizens to march in support of the right of everyone to receive quality, affordable care. Our collective action put the Trump administration on notice that we won’t be silent when our rights or the rights of our patients are threatened.  

Our fight to save the Affordable Care Act continues today.

Right now, Congress is holding the next hearing for the nomination of Rep. Tom Price as HHS Secretary. It also happens to be the last day Congressional Republicans will be in Washington, DC before heading to a policy conference where they will discuss reforming the health law. This is an important moment to make sure they hear from you. Congress is taking notice of the calls coming into every office, so we have to keep calling! Dial the number below and then use this form to report back on how the call went. 

Call Congress now and tell them not to repeal the ACA without a suitable replacement: (202) 224-3121

To help you stay up-to-date on the latest developments in DC around the ACA, check out the recent activity below:

  • Rep. Tom Price Faces Senators at Hearing
    Nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary, Rep. Tom Price faced his first Senate hearing last week just as allegations of insider trading surfaced. Our statement on his nomination is here. Price faces his next hearing today.

  • President Trump Issues Executive Order
    On Friday, President Trump issued an executive order that instructs federal agencies to use their current powers to weaken the ACA “to the maximum extent permitted by law.” More on the order is available here

  • Senators Cassidy and Collins Introduce a Replacement Plan for the ACA
    On Monday,  Senators Bill Cassidy and Susan Collins introduced the “Patient Freedom Act.” We remain concerned this bill doesn’t go far enough. Read more on the proposal here.

  • Republicans Aim to Block Grant Medicaid
    The Trump Administration stated their intention to convert Medicaid into block grants. This fact sheet from our partners at Families USA explains why this is a bad idea.


Don’t forget our resource page with a toolkit to aid your ACA outreach.


 

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Our democracy and our future

By Dr. Alice Chen
.

Today is an important day for our nation.  Today, we say farewell and thank you to a President with whom we have worked these past eight years to pass and enact the Affordable Care Act.  More than 20 million more people in America have the safety and security of health coverage. In every community, we are taking care of patients who previously were shut out of our health care system, people with preexisting conditions who have been liberated to pursue their dreams, people who are alive today because of the work we have done together.

Today, more than 90 percent of Americans are covered, and we have moved closer to a day when health care is truly a right in America.

At 12:01pm Eastern Time, we will have a new President.  Even as some people celebrate the possibility of a better future today, many others are worried about losing health care, lowering our national standards for civility and respect, and seeing our nation become more fractured as communities turn against one another.

As enormous as this change in national leadership is, we cannot ever look to one person to define all of us.  That shortchanges the power and potential that each of us has to shape our collective identity and realities.  

Today, I offer you three reasons for hope.

One reason is the very profession of doctoring.  At the heart of medicine is a fundamental belief in our responsibility to take care of one another.  We devote our hearts and minds each day toward screening, diagnosing, treating, counseling, and, yes, loving our patients.  We strive to treat them with the utmost care because each person matters no matter what our age, race, gender, profession, abilities or disabilities, income, or viewpoints.

A second reason to hope is the ideals of our democracy.  As President Obama said in his farewell address, the most important office in the country is that of citizen. Our democracy is messy, and the collective decisions we make may not be what exactly we individually want.  But if we choose to, we each have the power and right to help steer us all.

And a third reason lies in what we have seen these past few weeks and indeed these past eight years: the incredible power that Doctors for America members have when we roll up our sleeves to do the work of our democracy.  We are not content to let others speak for us. Instead we are finding our own voices.

Today and each day that follows, I encourage you reflect on how you will use your power to protect our patients and create a better future for everyone.  I ask you to consider how we can build our collective power to ensure that our ideal of a caring and compassionate America is reflected in our health care system and our society.

To help, we have put together an ACA toolkit on how you can take action to protect the gains of the Affordable Care Act. Take a look, grab a friend or five, and choose to act.  Program the phone numbers for your Senators and Representatives into your phone. Write an op-ed. March tomorrow for our patients and our country.

Reach out to the Doctors for America community for strength. We are launching a Facebook group today where we can share our stories, actions, resources, and inspiration with one another.   

Taking action is taking a stand for the kind of future we want. It is doing the hard work of making our democracy work for everyone even in the most challenging of times.

While the future remains unwritten, my faith in our collective ability to do good remains unwavering. Thank you for all you have done and for all you will do in the days and years to come.

With love and hope,

Alice 
on behalf of Doctors for America leadership

 

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Doctors march on Washington

By Kyle Ragins, MD, MBA
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On Saturday, January 21, Doctors for America is partnering with national groups around the country to attend the Women’s March in Washington, DC to stand up for our patients’ care as Republicans in Congress threaten to repeal the Affordable Care Act and put the health coverage of 30 million Americans at risk.

We invite you to join a group of physicians, medical students, and health care professionals as a “white coat” contingent in the march

If you plan on coming, please RSVP using this link, so that we can text/email you with any last second changes in plans.

 

Doctors March on Washington

January 21, 2017 at 9:30 a.m. ET

Meeting Point: 
Patriot’s Plaza

355 E St SW, Washington, DC 20472

(In between the CDC Building and Casey’s Coffee)

RSVP to join us

 

Please feel free to invite friends, colleagues and allies to join our group, whether they are DFA-affiliated or not. The more the merrier! We suggest health care professionals and medical students wear their white coats.

For those, who aren’t able to attend the Women’s March in DC, there are sister marches occurring around the country that we encourage you to attend to stand up for progressive ideals across this country.

Whether attending the Women’s March in DC or or in your hometown, we suggest health care professionals and medical students wear your white coats to present a clear voice from the medical community for media in supporting our patients. You can amplify the impact of your participation by taking pictures of your white coat group and using the following social media tags:

Facebook: @DoctorsForAmerica 

Twitter: @DrsForAmerica 

#ProtectOurCare

#WhyIMarch

 

We look forward to seeing you out there and taking a stand for health care.

 

Sincerely,

 

Isabel Chen, MD, MPH

Family Medicine Resident

isabel.chen23@gmail.com

 

Kyle Ragins, MD, MBA

Emergency Medicine Resident

kyleragins@gmail.com


P.S. Here’s the ACLU’S Know Your Rights Guide to those who participating in any protests. There is DC specific information.

 

As Dr. King said, “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”

 

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On the Hill

By Kyle Ragins, MD MBA
.

I am writing to you from Capitol Hill where I am standing with a group of medical students and future health care providers from around the country rallying to #ProtectOurPatients. We want Congress to understand that future healthcare providers stand united in our belief that repealing the ACA and leaving 30 million without health insurance coverage is not acceptable and will do clear harm to our patients. We aredelivering a petition signed by more than 4,000 future health care providers representing more than 140 medical schools in all 50 states. We are rallying outside the Capitol and meeting with key Senators from both the Republican and Democratic Party, because for us, maintaining access to high quality, affordable health care for all Americans is not a partisan issue. We value patients over politics and we need your help to let Congress know that you stand with us today.

Stand with us by calling your Senators and Representative today.

The newly sworn in Senate and House are already taking the first steps toward repealing major parts of the ACA that have added more than 20 million people to the ranks of the insured. Right now, fewer than 10% of people in America are uninsured - the lowest rate ever.

Republican Senators and Representatives want to vote this month to take away this coverage with only a vague promise to replace it with “something better.” That's not acceptable for our patients.

The public outcry about this is growing louder every day, and it's starting to work. Four Republican Senators have publicly said that they are concerned about repealing the ACA without putting forward a replacement plan. We need three Republican Senators to commit to vote no on a rushed repeal.

Add to the momentum: call today!

Whether your Senators and Representative want to improve the ACA or repeal it, your outreach to their offices will be valuable.  Tell them what repeal would mean to you personally. A simple phone call from a physician makes a huge difference! If you want to go the extra mile, ask to meet with them or their staff this month.  Ask to set up a meeting in their local district office (or in DC if you're willing to travel) and invite other physician advocates to come with your representing our united voice. If they are on your side, you can be a valuable resource for them as a physician in the trenches they can draw on for support. If they're not on your side, this is our opportunity to show them we value patients over politics and they should too.

Our goal is to make sure every Senator and House member hears from us. Are you in?

Kyle Ragins is a member of the Doctors for America Board of Directors and serves as an emergency medicine resident physician at UCLA.


 

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