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Health Reform Gives Much to be Thankful for

By Carl G. Streed Jr.

As a medical student at the threshold of my career, I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

  • I am thankful for a government that finally recognizes the need to change our broken health care system.
  • I am thankful for a government that realizes the financial burden of medical education and encourages medical students to pursue primary care professions.
  • I am thankful for a government that intends to provide the most effective and efficient health care to its citizens.

I am disappointed to read Senators Barrasso and Coburn are not thankful for such progress. The senators would rather present false claims that further a political agenda and leave medical students and patients in a broken health care system.

Senators Barrasso and Coburn claim the GOP presented “reforms that would put affordable, high quality coverage within reach for every American” but give no examples. Senators Barrasso and Coburn give the impression that GOP ideas were ignored, but the senators forget the GOP health care plan did not pass the Congressional Budget Office muster—the GOP health care plan covers 33million fewer Americans, saves $36billion less, and offers less coverage than the current health care law. 

Senators Barrasso and Coburn claim that Medicaid “denies patients access to roughly half of physicians” when in fact it is physicians who refuse to see Medicaid patients because of the woefully-low reimbursement rates. And though this refusal to treat accounts for  Senators Barrasso’s and Coburn’s claim of higher infant mortality rates and more frequent ER visits by Medicaid patients, their statement is not true–uninsured patients are the most frequent users of hospital emergency departments. Senators Barrasso and Coburn are presenting false claims for political gains instead of thinking of ways to make health care gains.

Senators Barrasso and Coburn claim the government is relying on “on unproven pilot programs to deliver needed savings” while ignoring the fact doctors rely on “unproven pilot programs,” also known as Clinical Trials, to prove the efficacy of new treatments. Senators Barrasso and Coburn would rather use programs we know don’t work rather than create a new method of delivering needed savings.

Medical students across the nation have responded to Senators Barrasso and Coburn and are holding the senators accountable for their political actions: “Act as physicians, not as politicians; prioritize health over politics.”  And I agree with my future colleagues that “Where the Senators see fear and destruction, we see hope and progress.

This Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for a future that, with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will ensure all have access to efficient, effective, and quality health care.

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