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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!


Sabotage, plain and simple

By Shalini Pammal
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The President has taken a major step toward dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with an Executive Order aimed at collapsing the private health insurance market by drawing Americans toward skimpier health insurance plans. It’s sabotage, plain and simple.

Doctors and healthcare professionals know that everyone will become sick at some point in their lives and that these junk plans will not provide patients with the coverage they need when they need it most. In fact, these plans could reject people with pre-existing conditions, have lifetime/annual limits and no limit on out of pocket costs.

It is no coincidence the timing of this order occurred just before the start of Open Enrollment. The Administration is attempting to cause confusion for Americans and discourage them from signing up for coverage on the exchange. But quality, affordable coverage is still available and we must spread the word.

Join us for an emergency call to discuss administrative efforts to sabotage the ACA and the upcoming Open Enrollment periodLearn how you can help fight back to ensure Americans get the coverage they need.

 

Doctors for America Expert Call: ACA Enrollment

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

at 8pm Eastern / 5pm Pacific

Hosted by DFA Senior Advisor Harold Pollack with special guests:

Lori Lodes, former CMS Communications Director and current leader of Get Covered America

Erin Hemlin, National Director of Training and Consumer Education at Young Invincibles

 

 

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DFA Round Up - October 6, 2017


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TAKE ACTION

Below are a few simple actions you can take to ensure our patients continue to receive the care the need. 

  • Sign this open letter and join in urging Congress to pass legislation that protects DACA recipients. This letter and submitted comments will be delivered to Congress in October.
  • Tell Congress to reauthorize funding for Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expired at the end of September and jeopardizes access to care for 9 million children:(202)-224-3121 
  • The Administration has cut open enrollment to a mere 45 days and made deep cuts in enrollment spending. Let's work together to fill the gap by making patients aware that enrollment begins November 1 and lasts through December 15,2017, for the 2018 coverage period. Follow @GetUSCovered and visit getamericacovered.org.
  • In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, DFA gun violence leaders penned this message urging doctors and medical students to call Congress and demand action to #EndGunViolence and #EndTheBan on gun research: (202)-224-3121 

ACA WEEK-AT-A-GLANCE

The Senate Finance Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a measure on Thursday to extend the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) after funding expired last week. The bill approves more than $100 billion over five years for the program, which insures nearly nine million children and over 300,000 pregnant women. Though the Senate approved the bill swiftly, it was narrowly approved by the House Committee in a 28-23 vote along party lines. Democrats criticized the House Republican proposal to partially pay for CHIP by charging higher Medicare premiums to seniors earning more than $500,000. The House CHIP funding bill also modifies DSH allotments by eliminating the $2B cut for FY2018 and adding federal DSH cuts of $8B in FY2026 and FY2027 (currently set to expire in 2025). Over the past three years, Congress has passed legislation to delay reductions in Medicaid disproportionate share payments to hospitals.

Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) is still pushing to make revisions and garner support for his plan to repeal-and-replace the Affordable Care Act; though, the Senate has not indicated that there will be a vote on an amended bill. The Senate GOP opted not to take a vote on the Cassidy-Graham bill last week. As the open enrollment period approaches, the CBO has estimated that four million fewer people will sign up for Obamacare private insurance, given administration policies and general confusion around whether the Affordable Care Act is still in effect, following numerous efforts to repeal-and-replace the law. This has led to a surge in grassroots efforts from navigator groups and private campaigns to raise awareness for open enrollment, especially given slashed advertising funding and a much shorter enrollment period.

Meanwhile, insurers still have no commitment from the administration regarding cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments or whether key elements of the law, like the individual mandate, will be enforced. This uncertainty has caused health insurers to aggressively increase prices next year for individual policies sold under the federal health law, with some raising premiums by more than 50 percent. The Council for Affordable Health Coverage (CAHC)—a coalition of drugmakers, insurers and others in the health sector— is also urging Congress to take several bipartisan steps to help stabilize the individual insurance markets, in particular seeking a federal reinsurance program to provide money for state-led reinsurance programs. Bipartisan market stabilization negotiations are still ongoing, though the future of a short-term plan to lower Obamacare premiums is unclear.

Lastly, following the resignation of Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services, longtime HHS official Don J. Wright will be acting secretary. CMS Administrator Seema Verma is believed to be the leading choice to replace Price.

MEMBERS IN ACTION

Tell us about what you are up to! Email your updates and photos to DFAHQ@drsforamerica.org.

National

  • Dr Priscilla Wang and Medical student Michelle Lough are leading a DACA petition with 367 signatures urging Congress to find a solution for our medical students and physicians who rely on the program.
  • DFA board member Shalini Pammal was interviewed by Healthline on the impacts ending the DACA program would have on medical students and physicians across the country.
  • Doctors for America led a sign on letter opposing the SHARE Act, which would drastically weaken current laws regulating the transfer and sale of firearm silencers. Thanks to the American Public Health Association, American Medical Women's Association, American Nurses Association and the Koop Institute for signing on.
  • Gun violence campaign leaders Dr Nina Agrawal and Medical student Justin Lowenthal were both interviewed on the gun violence research ban. You can read those interviews in STAT News and ThinkProgress.
  • DFA joined 480 organizations urging Senators Murray and Alexander to take a bipartisan approach to stabilizing the individual market. 

CALIFORNIA

USC DFA group in attendance at a rally on in defense of DACA in LA the day of the announcement. 

Alyssa Morse, 4th year medical student at University of Southern California - DFA member published a letter in The Signal of Santa Clarita on the harmful effects ACA repeal would have on patients.

"I am a 3rd year medical student at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. My family and I are also your constituents in Valencia. I have spent most of my short medical career caring for patients at LAC+USC Medical Center, which is responsible for serving the low-income communities of East Los Angeles. Before Obamacare the majority of my patients were uninsured, and now because of your vote they have the most to lose."

Dr Pam Dyne a UCLA emergency medicine physician, spoke at a rally in Rep. Knight's district urging against ACA repeal.

NEW YORK

Medical student James Blum led DFA Mount Sinai students standing in solidarity with DACA.

DFA - New York co-sponsored and participated in a "Funeral March" in Times Square in NYC against the latest ACA repeal bill on Sept 23. 

Drs Bruce Rector and Katherine Scheirman joined @NYDocs coalition partners and planned a coordinated strategy to stop Graham-Cassidy.

OHIO

Dr Don Nguyen penned a piece in the Dayton Daily News, on the Graham-Cassidy-Heller Senate Bill.

“As a pediatric specialist, I worry about the funding for children on Medicaid. This new bill proposes per capita capping, block-granting Medicaid as funding to the states. This is a very bad idea — it will cut payments to children’s hospitals and providers and gives no consideration to how many children or disabled nursing home recipients this lump sum can cover. It will devastate children’s care, and therefore is completely unacceptable. It would repeal the important Medicaid expansion, which has been credited with saving lives of hard-working Americans and of opiate-addicted and mental-health patients.”

MASSACHUSETTS 

Drs Umbereen Nehal, Anish Mehta, and Stephanie Friend participated in a roundtable discussion with Senator Markey to discuss the impact Graham-Cassidy would have on their patients. 

 

Prescription Drug Value, Pricing, and Affordability

Maryland’s price gouging law is under threat by the pharmaceutical industry. Medical students Justin Lowenthal and Hussain Lalani worked to help with the passage of the law.

The California Legislature passed Senate Bill 17 that requires pharmaceutical companies to disclose the costs of price increases to the state. DFA-CA supported the bill while in the Legislature.

 

 

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Las Vegas

By Justin Lowenthal, MD/PhD student
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On the evening of October 1, 2017, the deadliest mass shooting occurred in US history. These were our friends, neighbors, patients, and colleagues who were senselessly massacred. We are grateful to first responders, tasked with  protecting thousands from gunfire. We thank health care providers at local hospitals doing their best to save lives  ravaged by bullets.

  • 59 - the number of lives lost in Las Vegas on Sunday night
  • 500+ - those injured by a single man armed with a cache of powerful and deadly weapons
  • 42 - the number of firearms found in the hotel room and the home of the shooter

The reality is that too many physicians struggle to save too many lives lost to the devastating effects of gun violence every day. This is not about a lone shooter in Las Vegas or in Newtown Connecticut. This is about a public health crisis as urgent as Ebola virus or drunk driving. Unless we do something now to keep our children and families safer from gun violence, the death toll will continue to rise and more Americans will suffer the loss of loved ones. We must mourn but we should not be quiet.  

  • 93 - the number of lives that gun violence claims on an average day
  • 33,000 - annual deaths attributable to gun violence
  • 114,994 - people in America are shot in a year

How many more lives must we lose? As health care providers, we can save lives by tackling gun violence through effective public health approaches: investigating the causes of such tragedy and helping to develop solutions that lead to policy changes. As health care professionals and public health researchers, we use well funded evidenced-based research to save lives from car accidents and other traffic fatalities; reduce smoking-related illnesses; and prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other major health challenges.

We call on Congress to #EndTheBan on the CDC and the NIH from conducting federally funded scientific research on gun violence. We call on Congress to appropriate funds to the CDC and the NIH to conduct this life saving research, just as we do for other preventable injuries in the United States.  

As physicians and medical students, we are united in standing with thousands of healthcare professionals in every state in this country to say enough is enough. We must stop the carnage of gun violence. We call on Congress to take action now.

Sincerely,

Justin Lowenthal, Medical Student (MD/PhD) at Johns Hopkins University

Nina Agrawal, MD

David Berman, DO

Sanjeev Sriram, MD, MPH

 

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ACA repeal defeated (again)!

By Shalini Pammal
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The latest bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act has failed to get the support it needed for a vote! Thank YOU for your calls, tweets and activism. Your advocacy has made a difference in the lives of millions of patients.

It is time for Congress to listen to the doctors, nurses, hospitals and patient groups calling for them to put patients over politics and begin working in a bipartisan manner to reduce health care costs and increase coverage. If Congress remains committed down the path of repealing coverage, let this be a notice that when we fight for our patientswe fight to win.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

In solidarity,

Shalini Pammal

Board Member

 

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ACA vote set

By Shalini Pammal
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Senate leadership has announced they will plan to bring the Graham-Cassidy-Heller bill to the floor next week.

The stakes are high for millions of patients currently benefiting from life-saving coverage. This bill causes 32 million people to lose health insurance, converts the traditional Medicaid program to a per capita cap, ends the Medicaid expansion and allows states to gut key consumer protections for people with pre-existing conditions. In short, this bill is a lethal prescription for health care and we cannot allow this version of care to become reality.

The vote is set but this is far from over. Let's make sure Congress knows that doctors and medical students stand in unified opposition to this latest repeal effort.

Here are three things you can do over the next few days to help kill this devastating bill.

SPEAK UP
Calls are a top priority. We need to drive as many calls as possible into Senate offices ahead of the vote, especially if you live in a target state. We also need to start driving calls into the House of Representatives.

  • Find contact information for target state Senators (AK, AR, AZ, CO, IA, KS, LA, NC, ND, NV, ME, OH, SD, TN WI, WV) 
  • Contact your Representative and Senator by dialing 202-224-3121.
  • If you are in a blue state, click here to use this tool to make calls to allies in red states to encourage them to get involved.

SHOW UP
Members of Congress will be back home in their districts over the next few days. This is the perfect time to visit them and make your voice heard. Request a meeting with your member of Congress or connect with partners for events on the ground.

USE OUR TOOLKIT
The following tool kit contains resources gathered from our partners across the country. Find talking points, background and resources to help you engage in your district and online.

We have a short window to make an impact but I know what is possible when we come together and elevate our voices for what is right. Let's join together to defeat ACA repeal one more time-- for the millions of patients in your care.

In solidarity,

Shalini Pammal

Board Member 

 

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Action Alert: ACA repeal threat grows


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Congress is back in Washington and back to their old tricks of trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Senate leadership has reiterated that repealing the ACA will be a priority before the end of the month and they are, reportedly, closing in on the votes they need to get it done. We need your help to stop this effort in it's tracks. 

The new repeal bill, known as Cassidy-Graham-Heller, is nothing more than a last-ditch effort to repeal the ACA. It would cause virtually all of the same devastating impacts as previous repeal bills already rejected by the Senate, such as:

  • cutting health coverage and raising premiums and out-of-pocket costs for millions
  • slashing Medicaid, converting the traditional Medicaid program to a per capita cap, and ending the expansion
  • allowing states to gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions

Doctors and medical students have made it clear it's time to move on from repeal. We expect Congress to work in a bi-partisan manner to stabilize the health insurance marketplaces, protect children’s health, and take steps to help patients afford the coverage they need. It's time to put an end to repeal attempts once and for all.

Join us in calling for Congress to put patients over politics. Tell your Senator to #ProtectOurCare and oppose the Cassidy-Graham-Heller bill: 202-224-3121. And, use this helpful toolkit to make your voice heard on social media. 

 

Yours in service, 

Scott Poppen, MD MPA

Chair

 

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Tell Congress: immigrant health matters


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Last week, the President announced an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This decision places over 800,000 of our patients, their caregivers, and our colleagues at risk for deportation, and would cause irreversible harm to the communities in which we live and serve.

Rescinding DACA could cause hundreds of thousands to avoid seeking medical care out of fear of their legal status. It would separate families and threaten the mental health and development of children in destabilized households. It would deprive our hospitals and clinics of dedicated providers with the cultural competence and language skills needed to serve our diverse patient populations.

We can’t afford to let politics threaten the health of our patients and communities. Here’s what we can do now to speak out:

  1. Sign our open letter HERE and join us in urging Congress to pass legislation that protects DACA recipients. This letter and submitted comments will be delivered to Congress in October.
  2. Call your representatives today! Learn more about legislative options on the table via this factsheet from the National Immigration Law Center.
  3. Plan an event for the medical community’s upcoming National Week of Action September 25-29 to protest the rescinding of DACA. More details to come!

 

In solidarity,

 

Priscilla Wang, MD

Doctors for America, MA

 

Michelle Lough, MPH, MD candidate

Doctors for America, CA

 

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ACA Round Up - September 8, 2017


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TAKE ACTION

Congress has begun to hold hearings on changes to the ACA as part of their long agenda to repeal-and-replace the law. We must remain engaged and hold them accountable to our patients.

  • Call your Representative and Senators and urge them to find a solution to DACA for patients and medical students who rely on the program.
  • Governors across the country are calling on Congress to ensure Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) are fully funded to help consumers afford coverage on the individual market. Call your Governor and ask them to raise awareness on the need to stabilize rates for your patients.
  • Ask your Representative and Senators to extend the funding for Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is set to expire in various states.
  • The Administration has cut open enrollment funding substantially, and it is up to us as advocates to raise awareness. Let's make sure our patients are aware that open enrollment begins November 1 and lasts through December 15,2017, for the 2018 coverage period. Click here for more information.

WEEK-AT-A-GLANCE

This past week the Senate health committee convened to discuss the path forward for stabilizing the federal health insurance marketplaces. The potential bipartisan solution would continue cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies and allow states the freedom to relax some insurance requirements in the Affordable Care Act.  A group of bipartisan governors from five states testified before the Senate committee, in addition to a coalition of health industry and business leaders who called upon Congress to finance federal subsidies to insurers for at least two years. All governors also asked Congress to create a temporary "stability fund" federal reinsurance program and generally supported greater flexibility for states to govern their own insurance program, calling for changes in the 1332 state innovation waiver program. Despite recent progress to shore up the exchanges and fund cost-sharing reduction payments, Anthem announced that it will exit Obamacare markets in half of the counties in Kentucky next year, leaving many individuals with only one insurer choice. The insurer, which sells insurance under the Blue Cross Blue Shield brand in 14 states, explained that though they are pleased steps have been taken to address long term challenges, the "individual market remains volatile." Similarly, Virginia insurer Optima also announced that it will exit 63 of the state's 95 counties, leaving 62,000 people without a marketplace option and reigniting Obamacare's 'bare county' problem once again.

As Congress works to stabilize the individual insurance market, and meet a number of other urgent legislative deadlines by the end of the month, another health reform proposal resurfaced this past week and has garnered backing from the President. Senator John McCain (R-AZ, one of three who voted 'no' on the failed repeal-and-replace proposals has expressed support for the Graham-Cassidy effort, so long as it follows the traditional legislative process and not reconciliation. The bill from Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) would convert Obamacare spending into block grants for states to decide their own health insurance systems, and is another reconciliation attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act. Congress also has until September 30to renew the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which currently provides health insurance for about 9 million lower- and middle-income children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Lawmakers are considering both the duration of re-authorization, whether any other measures will be attached and whether to continue enhanced federal matching funds that were first included in the Affordable Care Act.  

The Administration has also cut spending on advertising and promotion for enrollment under the Affordable Care Act by 90%, from $100 million under the Obama administration to $10 million. The administration also shortened the open enrollment period for individuals seeking insurance on the federal exchange, now lasting just over one month from November 1 to December 15.  New York is voluntarily extending its open enrollment period beyond the federal deadline, for a three-month period that will last through January 31, 2018. Activists are responding to this enrollment challenge with increased fundraising and organizing efforts to embolden ACA outreach and encourage people to sign up for health coverage.  

Lastly, the administration announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—an Obama-era program that shielded young, undocumented immigrants from deportation. National medical groups have spoken out against this decision, warning that this could exacerbate the physician shortage in the United States, and have severe consequences for many in the health care workforce. The American Medical Association and other major medical societies issued a letter to Congressional leaders denouncing this decision, also expressing that "many Dreamers will avoid seeking health care in order to reduce the risk of detection and deportation."

MEMBERS IN ACTION

Tell us about what you are up to! Email your updates and photos to DFAHQ@drsforamerica.org.

NATIONAL

DFA held a membership call with Andy Slavitt and Harold Pollack to discuss what’s next for the ACA and administrative efforts to sabotage the law, including threats to withhold payments for Cost Sharing Reductions.

DFA released a statement on the termination of DACA which runs counter to the values of the organization.

DFA signed a letter with nearly 100 consumer, patient, & provider groups asking Congress to act to stabilize the market.

MASSACHUSSETS 

The Drive for Our Lives bus rode into Boston, Massachusetts where Dr. Destiny Tolliver, a pediatric resident spoke about protecting our patient's access to high-quality medical care.

NEW YORK 

Medical student and DFA-Mt Sinai leader James Blum spoke at the Drive for Our Lives bus stop in NYC. Drs. Katherine Scheirman and Bruce Rector helped to organize the event which was also joined by Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko. Congressman Joseph Crowley (NY-14) and members of the group Little Lobbyists also spoke.

OHIO

Drs. Deb Lonzer and Dena Margolis joined the bus stop in Cleveland where they spoke about the about the dangers of rolling back critical coverage and protections under the ACA.

Dr. Matthew Noordsij-Jones proudly spoke alongside former HHS Secretary Sebelius at the Drive for Our Lives stop in Dayton, Ohio.

WISCONSIN

Dr. Mara Divis, a family physician, spoke at the bus stop in Janesville, Wisconsin about the importance of promoting health communities.

DRUG PRICING 

Dr. Mark Rood, a leader of the Prescription Drug Pricing, Value, and Affordability Campaign, spoke before a group of over 100 Ohio voters on the impacts the current ballot measure “Drug Price Relief Act” could have on prescription drug prices in the state.

SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER

DFA board member Don Mathis and DFA staff member Jose Tapia joined the candle light vigil put together by Fed Up! - urging the Administration to increase funding for opioid addiction recovery.

 

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DFA Round Up - August 4, 2017


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TAKE ACTION

We know the work to protect our patients does not stop. In the wake of our tremendous victory to defeat efforts to repeal the ACA, join us in taking some important steps during this August recess to hold members of Congress accountable for their votes on ACA repeal and to urge congress to move forward in a bipartisan manner to improve health care. 

WEEK-AT-A-GLANCE

Following the failure to pass three different bills last week, Senate Republicans have temporarily halted efforts to repeal-and-replace the Affordable Care Act, though the White House is still seeking a path forward for repeal. The Administration is pushing for the Senate to continue working on health care legislation, but it seems that Senate leadership is now focusing on bipartisan efforts to stabilize the health insurance market. Meanwhile, the fate of the cost-sharing reduction payments (CSR) to health insurers is still uncertain, as the Administration cast doubt on whether the federal government would continue funding those subsidies. Members of the Senate Health Committee are planning to hold bipartisan session hearings, beginning the week of September 4, to "stabilize and strengthen the individual health markets," while urging the The Administration to continue paying the cost-sharing subsidies until then. Republican and Democratic governors have also reiterated their desire for funding that stabilizes the market, putting forth proposals to bolster policies which help their constituents afford health insurance. And as the administration continues to mull its decision regarding CSR payments, a federal appeals court has ruled that state attorneys general can defend the subsidies given that terminating them would "directly and imminently" cause an insurance premium hike and lead to more uninsured.

Amidst the uncertainty, insurers are still expected to make final adjustments to their proposed 2018 premiums by August 16 and must make final decisions about whether to sell Obamacare plans in 2018 by September 27. Molina Healthcare is one among some other insurers that have been exiting the exchanges, recently announcing its exit in Utah and Wisconsin, citing hefty second quarter losses in those markets. Anthem Blue Cross has also reduced individual health plan coverage for some 150,000 Californians, exiting from 16 of the 19 California regions it covers. Following its pullback from the exchanges, Aetna reported a 52% jump in second-quarter profits and raised its 2017 forecast. And at least six states with GOP governors— Arkansas, Kentucky, Arizona, Maine, Wisconsin and Indiana— have already drafted plans that would change eligibility guidelines for Medicaid. This is likely to impact low-income Americans and those with certain disabilities, if states add work requirements, introduce drug testing for recipients or raise premium prices.

This past week the Senate also passed a key funding bill, which renews the FDA's authority to collect feesfrom the prescription drug and medical device industries. The bipartisan legislation will account for $8-9 billion over five years and represents over a quarter of all FDA funding. The bill passed after the Senate passed a separate bill which expanded access to experimental treatments for people with terminal illnesses. The "Right to Try Act," championed by Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) allows patients to request access to experimental drugs directly from drug companies without having to go through the FDA; but, does not require drugmakers to make the experimental treatments available.

And on the last day before leaving for the August recess, the Senate confirmed Dr. Jerome Adams to be the 20th Surgeon General of the United States. Adams served as Indiana's state health commissioner and stated in his hearing that his main priorities would be the opioid epidemic, wellness and community and employer engagement.

MEMBERS IN ACTION

With the threat of coverage for millions on the line, doctors and medical students from Washington, DC to California took to the streets to make their voices heard and successfully beat back the latest attempts to repeal the ACA.

In addition to rallying to save coverage, DFA’s Drug Pricing, Value, and Affordability Campaign, led by Bruce Rector and Justin Lowenthal, organized national stakeholders for a conversation on the pressing issue of rising drug prices. 

Tell us about what you are up to! Email your updates and photos to DFAHQ@drsforamerica.org.

CALIFORNIA

Board Member Dr. Kyle Ragins joined with Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) to speak about the importance of preserving the ACA at the “Our Lives On The Line” bus tour kick-off in Los Angeles. The bus will be traveling across the country this summer.



MASSACHUSETTS 

As the ACA repeal voted loomed, Board Member Shalini Pammal organized doctors and health advocates for a vigil on the steps of the Massachusetts State House to urge Senators to put patients over politics. 



After the vote, State Leader Dr. Umbereen Nehal attended a rally in Cambridge to thank members of Congress who stood with patients and voted against ACA repeal. She was mentioned in a Boston Globe article covering the event.


NEW YORK

Dr. Katherine Scheirman shares the DFA NY, together with a coalition of state physicians,  participated in a “die in” to continue to raise awareness for the deadly consequences of taking away coverage. The team also conducted meetings and outreach to Senators Gillibrand and Schumer.

Medical students at Mount Sinai also participated in several phone banking efforts to defend the ACA and Medicaid. Students were able to provide unique perspectives due to their broad exposure to the healthcare system and the fact that some are on Medicaid themselves.



NORTH CAROLINA

William Coe, a medical student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, penned a powerful op-ed in his hometown paper in Raleigh, North Carolina. In the piece he discussed the opioid epidemic and the necessity of expanding and maintaining Medicaid in NC to support efforts to save lives.

“Individuals suffering from mental health and addiction stand to benefit the most from Medicaid expansion. Across the country, Medicaid accounts for 25 percent of all spending for mental health disorders and 21 percent of all spending for substance use disorders, making it the largest source of financial support for such services, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).”

OHIO

State Leader Dr. Donald Nguyen recently joined health advocates for “Our Lives On The Line” rally in Dayton, Ohio to urge Congress to put an end to repeal efforts and focus on bipartisan action to improve and strengthen the ACA. The event was part of a national day of action across the country.



State Leader Dr. Arthur Lavin, joined by colleagues from Cleveland, meet with Senator Rob Portman and Senator Sherrod Brown’s office to underscore the disaster repeal would spell for patients across Ohio.



PENNSYLVANIA 

Dr. Benjamin Abella participated in a Facebook panel discussion with Congressman Raul Ruiz MD and Dr. Don Berwick (former director of CMS) about the consequences of repealing the ACA.



WASHINGTON, DC

Board Member Dr. Meghana Rao spoke at the “Our Lives On The Line” rally in the nation’s Capitol about the life changing impact the ACA has had on her patients in Baltimore. After the rally she marched with hundreds of advocates, patients, and health providers to the White House.



DRUG PRICING, VALUE, AND AFFORDABILITY CAMPAIGN

Dr. Bruce Rector and medical student Justin Lowenthal, leaders of DFA’s Drug Pricing, Value, and Affordability Campaign, convened a meeting with dozens of organizations working on prescription drug pricing and affordability. Attendees included major physician, labor and patient groups to discuss strategy on state and national efforts to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. 



Don’t forget to tell us about what you are up to. Email DFAHQ@drsforamerica.org with your updates and photos.

 

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A major win for patients

By Scott Poppen, MD MPA
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Dear Robert,

We did it! 

Last night, Senators Collins (ME), Murkowski (AK) and McCain (AZ) came together with all Democrats and Independents to kill the Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and protect the coverage of millions of patients. 

This great victory would not have been possible without you. 

Together, we have spent the last seven months tirelessly fighting off repeal attempts. We flooded congressional offices with calls, held countless meetings with members of Congress, wrote opinion pieces, spoke at local events and gathered in great numbers in Washington, DC at a White Coat Fly-in to make our voices heard with Congressional leaders.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Your voices, and those of patients benefiting from the health law, made the difference.  

As we breathe a sigh of relief, we also know the fight to protect our patients' access to care continues. Congressional leaders still support repeal. The Administration remains committed to destabilizing the marketplace and making it harder for consumers to get the coverage they need. We also know that there will be opportunities ahead to build on the progress for our nation’s health.

Take this moment to rest and rejuvenate yourself for the battles to come. Then let’s get back to work fighting the misguided efforts to take away coverage and making health care what it should be; a right for everyone in America.

 

In solidarity,

Scott Poppen, MD MPA

 

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