My name is Abhinav Gupta and I am a summer intern for Doctors for America, here in Washington DC. I’m a pre-medical student at Yale University, where I will be a junior in the fall. Here’s why I’ve decided to work with DFA this summer:
As a son of two physicians (father – rheumatologist, mother – radiologist), talk of medicine has always been present in my house. Whether it was dad reading the latest NEJM or mom heading to the next American College of Radiology (ACR) conference, there was always something “medically related” going on.
And so, when news of healthcare reform and “death panels” splashed all over the news, I naturally understood that my family would be affected. What I didn’t realize, was that my parents – two very intelligent and capable medical practitioners – had, at best, a feeble understanding of the upcoming changes.
“How strange,” I remember thinking. Lawyers, who had absolutely no clinical experience, were making drastic changes in the American healthcare system. Doctors, those who actually practice healthcare, had very little representation in the proceedings. While doctors do lead extremely busy, stressful lives, at the same time, they alone truly understand hospitals, clinics, and the physician-patient relationship.
As respected, influential members in their communities, doctors have the power to make beneficial changes for the betterment of healthcare as a larger institution. As I see it, they can rise to this challenge to help remedy an unsustainable system of care in the United States.
After taking a course at Yale by Dr. Howard Forman titled “Health Economics and Public Policy,” I became interested in the recent reform measures enacted by President Obama. What’s more important is that I realized just how complex the healthcare system is. HMOs, physician reimbursement schemes, and accountable care organizations may sound quite ordinary to practicing doctors; however, to the average person, these terms are incomprehensible. Very few people actually understand the current system, the health reform law, and the benefits that they are entitled to. Doctors, thus, are already well-educated through experience, and can correctly inform patients, neighbors, and community members of healthcare changes.
The current system must change, for healthcare costs account for over 18% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, while simultaneously, over 50 million people remain uninsured. As we try to build a system that provides quality, affordable, and accessible care, doctors must make their voices heard. This is why DFA is an important, unique organization, which addresses a gaping hole in the American political landscape. Doctors, a notoriously underrepresented political constituency, are demonstrating their strength through organization. It’s important; after all, if doctors don’t address healthcare…who else will?
This experience with Doctors for America will give me insights into research and advocacy for healthcare issues. It’s an exciting time to be involved with the organization, as physicians are realizing their strength as policymakers. Over time, I hope to learn how DFA channels its resources and members to fight for a worthwhile, necessary cause.
Thanks, DFA, for this opportunity!