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!
Doctors for America, the largest clinician advocacy organization in the nation, urges Congress to IMMEDIATELY RETURN for a special session to address gun violence
Health professionals nationwide are horrified by the recent mass shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH - but we are more than that. We are exhausted. Every day, 310 people suffer bullet wounds - and 100 die - in this country from bullet wounds. We are the ones who see the immediate results - suturing up bullet wounds from recurring mass shootings, telling parents of the deaths of their children, caring for traumatized communities after the cameras leave. And we are angry. Especially angry that our elected officials and society have failed to address this national epidemic of violence while they fling thoughts, prayers, and empty rhetoric across social media, leaving doctors and nurses to heal the resulting carnage.
We represent those who spend every day safeguarding the lives and the health of people across the nation in demanding that gun violence be addressed as a public health emergency. This is a crisis of epidemic proportions, as Americans viscerally know - in places featured in headlines such as in Gilroy or Virginia Beach, and also in neighborhoods that don’t make the news but who suffer the thousands of firearm-inflicted suicides and other violent deaths and injuries. If the Senate chooses not to go back to work, taking a month-long vacation instead of taking IMMEDIATE action to save American lives, how many more will be dead or injured when they return?
We call on the Senate to IMMEDIATELY return to Washington
to address gun violence through three steps:
Debate the gun violence reduction bills sitting in front of the Senate. HRs 8 and 1112, already passed by the House, will make background checks near-universal and close loopholes that allow those with violent histories to access guns. Expanded background checks are a necessary step with near-unanimous public support.
Provide dedicated funding to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other federal agencies directed specifically to support gun violence research. With funding, these agencies can help us uncover causes and warning signs for gun violence; determine which laws, regulations, and technologies have been effective; and figure out how to care for those affected. Funding has already passed the House - the Senate must act.
Consider a national Extreme Risk Protection Order (“red flag”) law allowing the temporary confiscation of guns (with due process) from those who are at acute risk for harming themselves or others. These laws have saved lives in states that have passed them.
Beyond these common sense steps, we also propose that our nation and Congress implement a much broader initiative to collectively address all of the different forms of gun violence using a comprehensive public health approach. One unique idea is to establish a National Bureau for Gun Safety. In 1966, faced with rapidly rising motor vehicle-related injuries and deaths on our roads, we created the National Highway Safety Bureau. The Bureau addressed auto deaths systematically by promoting and implementing safety technology and practices such as seat belt use as well as by supporting research into causes and contributing factors. This approach has been credited with reducing motor vehicle mortality by two-thirds over the subsequent thirty years. An analogous National Bureau for Gun Safety can use the best evidence and expertise to reduce firearm violence.
We call on all Americans to join us and our patients. Help policy makers think dutifully and act creatively to safeguard public health, and hold them accountable in implementing common sense strategies to heal America’s collective gaping wounds from gun violence. Join us to take steps away from absolutism and division toward courage, toward reducing gun violence, toward stopping this carnage, toward caring for our patients, toward bringing America together.
What actions will you take TODAY?
Call (202) 224-3121 (1-877-960-2185) or text “MITCH” to 90975: tell your Senators to act now to #EndGunViolence. (You can use the toolkit in #3 below as a guide.)
Join Doctors for America to take effective, direct action to address gun violence.
DFA Round Up - April 2019
DFA hosted a Web-Talk with multiple experts to discuss federal and state initiatives to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Click to hear the recording
DFA joined Speaker Pelosi at a press conference celebrating the 9th anniversary of the ACA
DFA medical studentsparticipated in the US House Labor Committee hearing titled "Addressing the Public Health Emergency of Gun Violence"
DFA Board Member and MD-PhD student Justin Lowenthal, AMSA National President Perry Tsai, MD, PhD, and Matt Moy, MDjoined Leana Wen, MD of Planned Parenthood calling on Congress to protect Title X
DFA board member Don Mathispenned an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun on the effects drug courts have on curbing opioid use
Medical student Jenny Wen, a member of the DFA Maryland/Hopkins chapters and an MD and MPH student at Johns Hopkins University penned an op-ed in the Baltimore Sunand an LTE on treatment of substance use disorder in prisons
Dr Deruelle met with his US Senator to discuss observation status
Dr Luedecke joined the Giffords organization calling for universal background checks to help curb gun violence
Dr Lalani joined his colleagues to advocate for lower cost and health coverage expansion in the Texas Legislature
Medical student Jean Changtestified in support of SB 5822, which is a bill to create a pathway for universal health care in the state
University of Washington medical students Tim Kelly and Jean Changjoined Dr Plymate, Dr Koshy, and Dr Weakland to testify in support ofuniversal health care in their state
Drug Pricing, Value, and Affordability Campaign
Three main storylines this week (besides the Michael Cohen testimony)
1.) Background Checks on All Gun Sales: The U.S. House of Representatives passed two common-sense bills to ensure that there are background checks on ALL gun sales and can keep guns away from those who shouldn’t have them. The ball is now in Senator Mitch McConnell’s court.
2.) RX CEO’s: Seven top pharmaceutical CEOs were called in to testify before the Senate Finance Committee to justify why prices for prescription drugs were so high. … “But while committee leaders Grassley and ranking Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon made it clear from the start they wanted to talk about list prices and price transparency, the executives kept the conversation to rebates and broader supply chain issues.”
3.) MEDICARE FOR ALL: Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled a proposal to move all Americans into the government’s Medicare health insurance program. The legislation has more than 100 co-sponsors.
GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION:
FINALLY: “Finally, we have done more than thoughts and prayers. Finally, we have taken a vote to expand background checks and help save lives ...For six long years, we worked on this issue, and the previous majority would not even let us have a hearing, let alone a vote to expand background checks” Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA)
TWO SECURITY LINES: “America’s current background check system is like having two types of security lines at the airport: one for people who are willing to be screened, and one you can waltz right through carrying whatever you want, We applaud the House for moving so quickly.” John Feinblatt, President - Everytown for Gun Safety
ONE LESS REASON TO WORRY: "After my son's death, I dedicated my entire life to advocating for common-sense gun safety solutions, but it was the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that finally motivated me to join this legislative body, … The overwhelming bipartisan support for universal background checks symbolizes the power of advocacy and the incredible power of the survivors, family members, and students who have shared their stories. ... H.R. 8 will ensure that mothers and fathers have one less reason to worry." Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA)
A MUCH-NEEDED STEP: “Today, exactly 25 years after the Brady Bill went into effect, the House of Representatives took a much-needed step towards preventing that type of tragedy from ever happening again. No one should be able to buy a gun just because a background check took a little too long to be completed. We need to provide our law enforcement agents with the time and resources they need to properly ensure that guns are not falling into dangerous hands. We will continue to pursue every avenue to strengthen the Brady Background Check system, and we look forward to pushing this bipartisan bill through the Senate and into law.” Kris Brown - President, Brady United Against Gun Violence
The House put on a display of Democratic priorities this week with two bills to bolster background checks on firearms purchases, showing just how quickly the politics of gun control have turned. ... the outcome showcased a turn of events as Democrats — and some Republicans —more fully support gun control measures they were hesitant to tackle even a few years ago….Polling, though, shows attitudes are shifting. A survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research last year found that nearly 7 in 10 adults favored stricter gun control measures. That was the strongest level of support since The Associated Press first asked the question five years ago. (Lisa Mascaro, Associated Press)
The House this week is set to pass the first major gun control legislation in over two decades, with Democratic lawmakers expected to approve two measures strengthening background checks for all firearms sales. The last time the House put high-profile legislation expanding gun control laws to a vote was in 1994, when it passed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban and made it illegal to manufacture a number of semiautomatic weapons for civilian use. That legislation expired after a decade and was not renewed by a Republican-controlled Congress. But riding a new wave of urgency after a series of mass shootings — and the activism inspired by the school massacre in Parkland, Fla., last February in which 17 students and teachers were killed — House Democrats have pledged to take meaningful action on the issue, beginning with the twin bills. The Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which the House will take up on Wednesday, requires universal background checks, closing a loophole for buyers at gun shows and online…. The second piece of legislation, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, will be voted on Thursday. Sponsored by Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the majority whip, the bill seeks to extend the initial background check review period to 10 days from three. (Catie Edmondson, New York Times)
The House voted on Wednesday to require background checks for all gun purchasers, including those at gun shows and on the internet — the first significant gun control bill to clear the chamber in a quarter of a century. The 240-to-190 vote is the first of two gun control measures expected to be put to House lawmakers this week, a turning point in gun legislation after 25 years when the National Rifle Association dominated the chamber. Last year’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., prompted a wave of student-led activism that pressed Democrats to unite around gun control, and the activists cheered when the measure cleared the 218-vote threshold for passage. The Democratic victory was tempered, however, after Republicans prevailed in adding a provision that would require the F.B.I. to alert Immigration and Customs Enforcement if an undocumented immigrant tried to obtain a firearm. Twenty-six Democrats, primarily from moderate or Republican-leaning districts, broke party lines to support the measure. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and other Democrats insisted that would ultimately have little import. (Catie Edmondson, New York Times)
But despite a sea change in gun politics — one that helped deliver the House majority to Democrats and has increased the task force’s ranks to 172, nearly three-quarters of the caucus — top leaders are determined to move cautiously. They have not announced firm plans for further gun votes, and prominent voices on the issue are hardly talking about action on aggressive measures such as an assault weapons ban that have long been liberal lodestars. Their caution — which extends from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) to Thompson to outspoken freshmen such as Reps. Lucy McBath (Ga.) and Jason Crow (Colo.) — stands in sharp contrast to other pockets of the Democratic caucus. On health care and climate change, for instance, liberals have been emboldened to push the envelope of what is possible, offering far-reaching proposals such as the Green New Deal and Medicare-for-all. (Mike DeBonis, Washington Post)
GORDIAN KNOT: “I feel like I need a Ph.D. in prescription drug-pricing to understand how the heck this industry works,” Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) During Senate Finance Committee meeting with seven senior pharmaceutical executives.
ENTRENCHED POWER: “This (pharmaceuticals) is a $460 billion industry, You think three hours of an orchestrated show before Congress will lead to different behavior? I don’t think so.” Ronny Gal, Securities Analyst, Sanford C. Bernstein & Company,
A highly anticipated Senate hearing on surging drug prices that was billed as a replay of a decades-ago public reckoning for the tobacco industry produced few memorable fireworks. Instead, what emerged was a broad recognition that the U.S. health-care system is complex, and that easy fixes are in short supply. Lawmakers from the Senate Finance Committee largely refrained from bashing seven senior pharmaceutical executives who came to Capitol Hill to explain why medicines cost so much. Many of the techniques the industry has used to preserve its profits from blockbuster drugs came in for criticism, but company officials were able to place much of the blame on a patchwork of incentives that culminates in high out-of-pocket costs for patients. … The hearing marks the start of what is likely to be a prolonged bipartisan push to tackle soaring health costs that could extend far beyond drugmakers. Republicans and Democrats have been largely in agreement on the need to address an acute source of strain for many American families. (Timothy Annett and Anna Edney, Bloomberg News)
Pharmaceutical executives, testifying before Congress, could not readily explain on Tuesday why the prices for many brand-name prescription drugs were much higher in the United States than in other developed countries. … Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, the home to many drug and biotechnology companies, offered what he described as “a friendly warning” to the witnesses. “If you don’t take meaningful action to reduce prescription drug prices,” he said, “policymakers are going to do it for you.” … The hearing was political theater, but could also be a first step toward legislation to provide some relief to consumers, as lawmakers of both parties and President Trump have vowed to slow the relentless rise of drug prices. (New York Times, Robert Pear)
Senate Finance Committee lawmakers exacted minimal policy concessions from seven top pharmaceutical CEOs Tuesday over hours of grilling. And they aren't likely to relieve tension with hospitals and insurers over drug prices. Following the hearing, stocks for most of the companies represented there rose slightly or held steady, while share prices for pharmacy benefit managers declined slightly. .. But while committee leaders Grassley and ranking Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon made it clear from the start they wanted to talk about list prices and price transparency, the executives kept the conversation to rebates and broader supply chain issues. (Susannah Luthi, Modern Healthcare)
A line of defense is emerging for top prescription drug companies whose top executives will be pulled before Congress on Tuesday to testify about high prices for medicine: They are not to blame. It’s a corporate version of a “devil made me do it’’ argument. The industry says it is trapped in a reimbursement system that has become badly distorted, one that rewards companies for jacking up list prices and then offering deep discounts, in the form of rebates, to win favorable treatment by insurance plans…. “I hope the drug co CEOs testifying tmrw don’t try to blame everyone but themselves/take no responsibility for their role in fixing the problem,’’ Grassley tweeted Monday. (Christopher Rowland, Washington Post)
“The bill for the ER visit?... US $80.00 - Eighty. American. Dollars. Out of pocket. Full cost. No discounts. No insurance. At one of the best hospitals in Taiwan. And if I had NHI, it would have been a fraction of that. This could have easily cost me hundreds or even thousands in the US without insurance. But here in Taiwan, I was able to receive speedy, quality care comparable to what I would have gotten in a US hospital for a relatively small amount of money. Given this experience, I no longer have a reason to fear or hesitate getting care in Taiwan should I ever need it. America, it's time to stop making excuses.” Kevin Bozeat, a 25-year-old student, studying in Taiwan
The Facebook post was illustrated with an image of an IV. “Went to the ER in Taiwan,” it began. Kevin Bozeat, a 25-year-old student, wrote about coming down with severe gastrointestinal symptoms while studying in Taiwan: stomach cramps, bouts of vomiting that would not abate and perhaps worst of all, he couldn’t keep any fluids down. Around 3 a.m., he decided it was time to go to the hospital for treatment, not knowing what to expect having never been to a hospital in Taiwan — a country that has a national health care system, or as Bozeat wrote, “socialized medicine.” He was checked-in and given IV fluids within 20 minutes of his arrival. Phlebotomists drew blood and the lab ran tests on it. Hospital techs performed an ultrasound to make sure he didn’t have gallstones or appendicitis. And eventually they diagnosed him with a stomach flu, gave him two prescriptions and discharged him. … “The bill for the ER visit? . . . U.S. $80.00.” He sarcastically titled his tale “The Horrors of Socialized Medicine,” noting he didn’t even have health insurance — in Taiwan or the United States. (Eli Rosenberg, Washington Post)
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled an ambitious proposal on Tuesday to move all Americans into the government’s Medicare health insurance program, tapping into public frustration over the rising cost of healthcare that has become a key issue for the party as it seeks to gain control of Congress and the White House in 2020. The bill, unveiled by Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal from Washington state, would transition the U.S. healthcare system to a single-payer “Medicare for All” program funded by the government in two years. The legislation is the party’s most high-profile and ambitious single-payer proposal in the new Congress and has more than 100 co-sponsors, many from the party’s progressive flank. It is unlikely to gain the support of any Republicans in the House or the Senate, who have derided single-payer healthcare as a socialist policy and oppose government interference in healthcare. It also remains unclear whether Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will bring the legislation up for a vote. (Yasmeen Abutaleb, Reuters)
Denouncing the profit motive in health care, more than 100 House Democrats rallied on Wednesday around a bill to replace most private health insurance with a national single-payer system, “Medicare for all.” The chief sponsor of the bill, Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington, said it would cure “a deep sickness within our for-profit system” of health care. But the bill highlights Democrats’ split over health policy going into the 2020 elections. Supporters of the bill, under which health care would be available to all Americans without premiums, co-payments, deductibles or “similar charges,” did not say how much it would cost or how they would pay for it. They said their proposal could save huge sums by cutting administrative costs and the bill-paying bureaucracy that works for insurance companies and health care providers. And Ms. Jayapal mentioned the possibility of levying “a wealth tax on the wealthiest Americans.” But only two hours after she introduced the bill, leaders of a more centrist group known as the New Democrat Coalition said Congress should initially focus on shoring up the Affordable Care Act, stabilizing insurance marketplaces and holding down prescription drug costs. (Robert Pear, New York Times)
A group of moderate House Democrats will make a push this year to stabilize ObamaCare's markets, reviving an effort that fell to partisan bickering in 2017. The New Democrat Coalition, a caucus of 101 centrists, says the House should "immediately" work with Republicans to bring down ObamaCare premiums and reverse the Trump administration's "sabotage" of the health care law…. The task force wants to create a national reinsurance program to reduce premiums by helping insurance companies pay claims for high-cost patients. It also wants to increase premium assistance and bring back insurer subsidies the Trump administration canceled in 2017. A bill introduced in 2017 by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would have funded a reinsurance program and three years of the subsidies for insurers. But talks between Democrats and Republicans were derailed over a disagreement about the bill's treatment of abortion coverage. .. "This is something that can be done this session, knowing that we can pass bills in the Democratic House, but we have to contend with a Republican Senate and with a Republican president," said Rep. Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) (Jessie Hellmann, The Hill)
TO: DFA members
RE: NPA joining DFA
DFA wanted to add some additional clarity and answer some of the great questions that our members have asked us regarding the recent announcement that the National Physicians Alliance (NPA) will be joining DFA.
First, these are exciting times! DFA will now be a bigger home for everyone, and your determination to change the world for your patients can be a part of our expanded family. DFA now will have an expanded platform as the clear go-to progressive group of 30,000 physicians and medical trainees for policymakers, the media, our advocacy partners and others. As the saying goes, “the whole is only as strong as its parts.” Each of you play a vital part that can and will strengthen the whole.
Second, for the past year, DFA members have been resisting the harmful direction pushed by numerous policies proposed in Washington, D.C. and in state capitols throughout America. To bolster your efforts, we have been rebuilding our internal and external infrastructure. In fact, we are adding three organizers, a communications consultant, and other consultants by April. The prospect for additional growth is very positive for the rest of 2019. However, the biggest shot in the arm so far will be our colleagues from NPA joining DFA. This will give DFA more strength and influence, and the means and ability to support our members to make our country healthy, safer, fairer, non-discriminatory, and an environmentally-friendly country for all us to live in.
In the coming weeks and months, we will be sending out listservs, holding conference calls and webinars, and providing options so that leaders can listen to you on the ways you would like to participate and activities that we are now engaged in. In addition, we will be sending out surveys to receive your ideas, assess your positions, and crowd-source ways to make us all stronger.
All your questions, now and future – please send them and we will do our best to answer them.
1) Specifically, what is happening?
- Our friends at NPA are folding into DFA. You can call it a merger, acquisition, “folding-into” or whatever term you want to use. The most important thing is that physicians are coming together. This is positive, and we encourage everyone to view this as a win-win for the progressive physician community and – more importantly – for our patients.
- Both organizations have been, and will continue to be, focused on the needs of our patients.
2) Is this now a new organization?
- No, it is not. It is still Doctors for America.
3) So, is there a new name for the combined organization?
- No – there is not a new name. It will still be called Doctors for America.
4) Does the Structure of DFA Change? Who are the leaders? Is there a new joint board of both organizations?
- No, DFA’s board is still the board going forward. See question 6.
- Regarding leadership of Issue-based Working Groups: See question 7.
- Doctors for America staffing will stay the same.
- DFA will be adding three new organizers in 2+ months, and we are currently adding 4-5 consultants.
5) What will happen to NPA?
- NPA will officially be closing their doors on March 31st. They have some logistical items that need to be taken care of after the AMSA conference that NPA is involved in.
- As of March 31st, NPA will no longer legally exist.
6) Will there be a joint or combined board?
- No, DFA’s Board will still be the board in charge. NPA’s current Board Chair, Jeff Huebner, has been offered a position on DFA’s board, which he has accepted. He will join DFA’s board in the coming months.
- DFA is internally assessing our current board make-up, including the skills and diversity of backgrounds that currently exist on the board, and what skills and perspectives DFA's current board may be missing. DFA's bylaws and our values mandate a board with ethnic, gender, geographic and specialty diversity.
- An invitation for additional board members will be sent to all DFA/NPA members in the Spring/Summer. Anyone can apply, and we will welcome applications from NPA members, leaders and board members within NPA.
7) How will NPA members be integrated into DFA?
- NPA leaders have been and will continue reaching out to their leaders to engage them to stay active and encourage them to connect with and join DFA’s issue leadership teams.
- NPA leadership will be forming an ad hocgroup to engage their members and encourage them in an ongoing fashion to become part of DFA in the coming months.
- NPA members (all individuals!) will be encouraged to join DFA and make sure they sign-up for specific issue groups that they are interested in being part of, that they get in touch with DFA members to form new relationships, and that they relay their interests and experience.
- DFA has recently been approved for several grants to work on Gun Violence Prevention and Prescription Drugs. As part of this, DFA will be expanding the leadership role of its issue working groups and thus welcomes everyone who wants to take a direct or in-direct leadership role in these issue areas to be part of our leadership teams.
- DFA is looking to hold issue leadership conference calls with those folks who want to take a leadership role. (Again, individuals will need to join and sign up for the specific issue areas, so we know who is interested.)
8) Will all NPA members be part of DFA?
- NPA is still working out the details regarding the transfer of their membership list and data
- DFA hopes and plans to engage every member of NPA to become a member of DFA, but, of course, it is each person’s choice whether to become a DFA member.
9) DFA State Chapters:
- In a few states, a collaborative approach among many organizations, including local chapters and members of DFA and NPA, has been operating for years. This should continue – these local connections are part of what make us confident that this joining will be so productive. It is up to state leaders, old and new, to determine any changes they would like to make in their state.
- With these new foundation grants that DFA has received, we will have some staff resources working in 8-10 states. The exact states are not yet all finalized. However, our Gun Violence Prevention efforts, we will be focusing in WI and MN and some national work due to the goals of the foundation funding. The six states that will be the focus of our Prescription Drug work will be determined by mid-March. As required by our grants, DFA will be rebuilding our state chapters in those among these 8-10 states that do not have active chapters and hope that this can be a template and provide resources to other states.
- During several DFA State Leader calls last spring and summer, we discussed and did a survey regarding establishing “teams” of state co-directors. This is already occurring in a few other states. The thinking is that such a leadership “team” can allocate the volunteer workload, thus not placing an undue burden on just one person. As this development begins this spring and summer, we encourage anyone to be part of this rebuilding process.
10) Where will donations from NPA be directed to?
- In short, DFA – A new donation page for NPA members has been established on the DFA website.
11) What NPA programs will be moved under the auspices of DFA?
- DFA has operated predominantly on the strength, passion, experience, and initiative of our many amazing members over the years; your volunteer efforts have been the most important factor in the progress we have made, the advocacy wins we have achieved for our patients, and the opportunities we now have.
- However, the viability of running many of these programs depends on DFA's financial situation. All programs require financial and/or volunteer resources. Programs need to be funded by foundation grants and/or membership contributions and donations. Every program, even when most of the work is done by volunteers, inevitably requires the time and support of paid staff. If it doesn't come from a foundation, it needs to come from us. (This is not to say that we do not support the initiative or individual interests of our members to start new efforts; it is just that part of assuring DFA’s financial health is to ensure that our large-scale efforts are financially-supported.)
- With that said, DFA, in agreement with NPA, is committed to keeping the following programs running after this transition is completed. However, we MUST raise the resources to make these programs continue to happen.
i. Copello Health Advocacy Fellowships
ii. Physician Roundtable
iii. NPA’s issue working groups (Gun Violence, Prescription Drugs) – see question 7;
iv. As other resources are found, DFA is committed to also pursue and grow the FDA policy issue-based working group that NPA members have built;
v. Regarding “Making Health Care Fair: This has been an independently managed and funded public education and advocacy project. NPA has served as their independent fiscal agent and that responsibility will now be assumed by DFA.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Jim Duffett, Executive Director
Doctors for America
MAJOR PHYSICIAN ORGANIZATIONS JOIN FORCES
Doctors for America (DFA) and The National Physicians Alliance (NPA) are excited to announce that they have joined forces to advocate for a more just health care system that achieves health equity and universal, affordable health care for all.
By merging these two progressive physician organizations, Doctors for America will now have the power and voices of 30,000 doctors and medical students who will fight together for the most critical issues that affect our patients and the public health of our nation. As physicians on the front lines of medicine, we see firsthand the struggles encountered by our patients in the health care system we currently have. We are uniquely poised to share our experiences and the experiences of our patients to inform public policy.
For too long, the voice of physicians and medical students have been pushed aside in public policy debates. We have been told that “This is NOT our Lane.” We strongly disagree - This is OUR lane and our voices and activism will be heard. DFA and NPA now stand as one representing a new force in public discourse and policy.
Stronger together, the new organization created by this merger will amplify our mission to mobilize doctors and medical students to be leaders in putting patients over politics on the pressing issues of the day, in order to improve the health of our patients, communities, and our nation.
We practice and study in the largest cities and the smallest towns of America from New York City to Salt Lake City. We work in private practices, academic centers, community health centers, and government-run systems like the Veteran's Affairs and the Indian Health Service. We work in primary care, surgery, and many subspecialties. Some of us are just embarking on our medical careers and some of us are retired - most of us are somewhere in between. Some of us are deans of medical schools or nationally renowned health policy experts. Nearly all of us take care of patients. Many of us have never ventured into politics before but driven by pragmatic idealism, we are bringing the voice of physicians to communities across the country and to the national stage. Our common vision and shared ideals will ensure that we help to create the kind of health care system every person deserves.
Our engagement and actions will be expanded in the following areas:
Universal Health Care:
Patients OVER Politics has been the historic mission of our organizations. We believe in affordable, accessible, and quality healthcare for ALL. All means ALL. American health care costs too much covers too little and creates frustration for too many. The issue isn’t more money for healthcare but more healthcare for the money. As the results of the 2018 election made crystal clear, the country and our patients want action. We will not be sitting on the sidelines. In addition, to reforms that maintain, protect and strengthen the progress we have made with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, we will be actively engaged in the debate on how best to achieve universal healthcare for ALL.
Gun Violence Prevention:
Our physicians are on the front lines of this preventable public health crisis. Gun violence victims are cared for by physicians and the long term effects of gun violence on victims and their communities is a chronic health problem. Gun violence prevention is clearly our lane. We will tirelessly advocate for policy changes until gun violence is a thing of the past. For more than 20 years Congress has voted to deny funding and effectively ban the Center for Disease Control from doing critical scientific research to understand and prevent gun violence. Doctors for America has lead this effort and joined with the medical, public health, and science communities to say: enough is enough, #EndTheBan! We support universal background checks contained in HR 8 which is on the verge of passing the House of Representatives. We support screening for safe storage of guns -- particularly in homes with children. We support evidence-based policies limiting gun possession by high-risk individuals. We support increased attention and support for secondary victims of gun violence.
Drug Value, Pricing, and Affordability:
All too often we watch as our patients are forced to choose not to take the pharmaceuticals we have prescribed them because they can not afford them. We will no longer sit quietly by as the cost of insulin doubles in a four year time period or the newest innovations in the treatment of life-threatening chronic diseases remain out of reach because of cost.
The U.S. has long had a problem with the rising costs of drugs and the unaffordability of prescriptions to our patients and the healthcare system as a whole. We plan to lead the push for solutions that foster continued pharmaceutical innovation yet also deliver medicines that are both affordable and effective. We must ensure that the experiences of physicians are at the table so that we can advocate on behalf of our patients and their needs.
"Now more than ever, the voice of physicians is needed in public debate on issues affecting the welfare, health, and safety of our patients. We are excited about this opportunity with the National Physicians Alliance (NPA) that will result in a physicians' movement of over 30,000 strong. As Doctors for America enters our 10th Anniversary, locking arms with NPA at this time couldn't be more strategic and beneficial for our patients and for the public health of our nation," stated Scott Poppen, Doctors for America, Board Chair
"For the past 10 years, NPA and DFA have been leading voices in the physician community on so many issues that affect our patients. Combining our forces in these perilous times provides us with expanded and renewed opportunities to correct the injustices that our patients have been facing," stressed Jeff Huebner, National Physicians Alliance, Board Chair
Doctors for America is 501(c)3 nonprofit that envisions a healthy America for everyone. We are committed to evidence-based medicine, transparency, putting our patients first, and do not accept funding from pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturers.
Dozens of Doctors for America physicians and medical students spoke at Protect Our Care's national bus tour. They spoke in defense of pre-existing condition protections, Medicaid expansion and urged Congress to expand access to care not remove it.
Willingboro, New Jersey - Click here to view the event
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Click here to view the event
Cincinnati, Ohio - Click here to view the event
Cleveland, Ohio - Click here to view the event
Indianapolis, Indiana - Click here to view the event
South Bend, Indiana - Click here to view the event
St. Louis, Missouri - Click here to view the event
Kansas City, Missouri - Click here to view the event
Raleigh, North Carolina - Click here to view the event
Miami, Florida - Click to view the event
DFA's Gun Violence Prevention working group leader Dr Nina Agrawal gave a presentation at the NYDOCS Policy Summit Gun Violence Is A Health Crisis
Dr Bewtra attended a rally continuing to urge for swift reunification of children and families at the border
Dr Hussain Lalani penned an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News of the importance of physicians to be aware of the cost of the drugs they are prescribing and the impact this can have on the overall cost this can have on patients
MEMBERS IN ACTION
Medical student Christine Petrin joined the national Board of Directors of Doctors for America. To learn more about Christine, visit our website.
Board member Dr Lori Heim and guest Dr Luke Lindley led a webinar on Adolescent Substance Use Prevention. To view a recording of the webinar click the image below.
Board member Dr Krishnan Narasimhan moderated the panel at the 6th annual W Montague Cobb Lecture in Health Policy at Howard University. The event was titled "The Continuing Struggle for Health Equity: Health Reforms and the Political Determinants of Health." The discussions focused on the history of health equity in the US leading up to the ACA and the impact of the ACA on health equity today.
DFA member Dr Bewtra joined hundreds for the March for Science.
DFA member Dr Bewtra met with Pennsylvania US Senator Bob Casey thanking him for his co-sponsorship of HR 2077 (Restoring the Patient's Voice Act of 2017.
DFA member Dr Chomilo met with Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota in Washington, DC urging action on gun violence prevention.
Board member Dr Krishnan Narasimhan was interviewed in Healthline about the new ACA exemptions including those allowing junk insurance plans.
Board member Don Mathis was interviewed by David Elliot of CHN regarding the effect of work requirements on Medicaid and substance use disorder treatment.
Board member Don Mathis penned an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun on the hope there is to help curb the epidemic of substance use disorder.
Medical student Francis Gill recorded the first episode of DFA's new podcast series, "Progress Notes". Visit our page to hear her interview with DFA member Dr Chomilo.
Drs Parven Parmar & Kyle Ragins, SCoPHE, along with State Senator Kevin de Leon led a bus tour targeting Congressional members who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and urged them to protect patients. Read this Los Angeles Times.
DFA member Dr Arkaprava Deb organized a a meeting titled "Fitting in Advocacy! How do you make the time?".
DFA-NY was a cosponsor, with our coalition, of the NYC 8th birthday party for the Affordable Care Act.
DFA members in Washington helped host a forum in the eastern Washington town of Wenatchee to celebrate the candidacies of 3 physicians stepping up to run for public office, the forum was entitled, "Doctors Stepping Up!".
Gun Violence Prevention Campaign
Campaign leader Dr Nina Agrawal joined AAP to meet with US Senator Gillibrand and requesting she help take action to pursue legislation to fund gun violence prevention research.
Dr Nina Agrawal spoke at a Medtalk event at the New York Medical College on the issue of gun violence prevention.