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!
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
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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Morsani College of Medicine
Despite last-minute planning, over 15 students came together to call their representatives and demand they protect the ACA. (c/o Sarah Iqbal, email@example.com)
Weill Cornell Medical College
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, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Western University of Health Sciences
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
University of Maryland School of Medicine
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
Around 20 students joined together for a die-in in solidarity with patients endangered by repeal of the ACA. (c/o Dylan Hanami, email@example.com)
Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine
University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine
University of Washington School of Medicine
Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Around 175-200 students joined together to rally together in support of the ACA. (c/o Kathryn Linder, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mayo Clinic School of Medicine
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Over 50 students came together in a show of solidarity for patients who are threatened by repeal of the ACA. (c/o Elisa Giusto, email@example.com)
Geisel School of Medicine
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
41 students came together to write representatives in support of the ACA and discuss future activism efforts. (c/o Akshaya Arjunan, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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,
on behalf of Doctors for America leadership
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
355 E St SW, Washington, DC 20472
(In between the CDC Building and Casey’s Coffee)
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:
We look forward to seeing you out there and taking a stand for health care.
Isabel Chen, MD, MPH
Family Medicine Resident
Kyle Ragins, MD, MBA
Emergency Medicine Resident
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Doctors for America is on the front lines of fighting to protect millions of people and their right to health care. Many of us have moments of disbelief that instead of moving forward to build on and expand existing coverage, we are actually talking about repealing major coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
What gives me strength to be hopeful and defiant are my patients and this movement. That is why Doctors for America is doubling down by joining forces with major national organizations to launch the Protect Our Care Coalition and the Alliance for Healthcare Security. We are standing side by side with other doctors, nurses, hospitals, patients, young people, moms, policy experts, and more to raise our voices and make sure America knows that the majority of the nation stands with us.
Our first grassroots action starts today with our Provider Day of Action in partnership with doctors, nurses, and other health care providers. Thank you to the hundreds of people who are joining our Thunderclap at 3:30 pm Eastern.
Now we are calling on everyone to join colleagues across the country in sharing the stories of your patients by taking a photo and submitting it to our Tumblr page, which we can all use to share stories with the nation, Congress, and the President-Elect. Share your story using this template.
Powerful stories are already coming in from across the country. Here are a few highlights of doctors speaking out:
“Without Medicaid, my patients would not have access to preventative medicine preventing complications of diabetes.”
– Dr. John Borzok, University Hospital, NJ
“Without coverage, 50-year old patient must choose between paying medical bills and providing food and shelter for family.”
– Dr. Afua Kunadu, NY
“Without access to preventative screening, would not have diagnosed COLON CANCER in time for 52 year old woman.”
– Dr. Sabrina Taldone, FL
The time is short to make your voice heard on behalf of patients. Please join us!
Alice Chen, MD
P.S. Don’t forget the upcoming deadline for marketplace coverage starting January 1, 2017 is December 15, 2016. Make certain to spread the word to encourage your patients to get covered for 2017!
Our stories and the stories of our patients will be heard.
The new Congress will be sworn in on January 3. They are making plans to repeal major components of the Affordable Care Act - including individual subsidies, Medicaid expansion, employer and individual mandates, and more. They could have it on the new President's desk to sign on Inauguration Day - just 39 days from now.
According to a study released this week by the Urban Institute (1), this would cause a collapse of the individual insurance market, and the number of uninsured people would rise by 28.9 million, which is a larger number of uninsured than before the ACA.
We wanted to work on more affordable and better quality coverage. But now millions of our patients are scared that they will lose the coverage they have. Our patients need to know that we will keep fighting for them.
That's why we are calling on everyone in the Doctors for America movement to stand up and tell the human impact of these political conversations in whatever way you can - through newspapers, radio, TV, blogs, social media, and in your community.
We are teaming up with medical and public health organizations from across the country this Monday, December 12th, on a Digital Day of Actionwith two fast ways you can speak up:
1. Join our social media Thunderclap by signing up before 3pm ET on Monday. In case you're not familiar, a Thunderclap allows a single message to be mass-shared, flash mob-style, so it rises above the noise of social networks.
2. The Thunderclap will link to a Tumblr page where you can share your patients' stories. From there, you can share the story with your Senators and member of Congress. You can find the sign to print and share your story here.
Let's use our collective power and make the voices of doctors and medical students heard before it's too late.
-- DFA HQ
P.S. Even as we work to keep America covered in the long run, it's important for everyone to know that the insurance marketplaces is open for 2017 coverage! People need to sign up by December 15th for coverage starting January 1. Most people will qualify for a subsidy to lower their costs. No matter what happens in Congress, we expect coverage to be there for the year. They can& shop, sign up, or find an in person assister at healthcare.gov.
On this Giving Tuesday, I thought I would share what DFA means to me and what it means for patients across the country.