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!
As the 51st anniversary of Medicaid approaches on July 30, we are reminded of the benefits this vital program has provided to millions of Americans. Doctors and medical students know Medicaid is a lifeline for many. Yet, it remains among one of the most hotly debated healthcare programs.
The Affordable Care Act has added 20 million Americans to the nation’s insurance rolls and lowered the percentage of uninsured to a historic low using the twin pillars of state/federal marketplaces and Medicaid expansion in 31 states plus the District of Columbia. However, governors and state legislative leaders in 19 states across the country have continued to refuse to expand Medicaid to millions in the coverage gap.
During this election season and at a time when the disadvantaged are at risk of being swept aside, we must take a personal stand and do something tangible. Together, let us make it clear to everyone that the future of Medicaid is strong when we all do our part.
Our patients who are eligible for Medicaid deserve care. Most are fully employed in jobs that, despite being low in pay, are essential for the safe, smooth and secure functioning of our society. They are the indispensable caretakers, often unpaid, of children, the disabled, and the frail elderly. They are students who will soon find public health insurance unnecessary as they move into jobs with full benefits. And some are our future colleagues, medical students who need some temporary assistance in their first years of training.
So please, whether you are self-employed, employed, a medical student, or already caring for this economically vulnerable population, take the pledge that will help strengthen this essential public health insurance program so that it is available to many generations to come.
Together, we will continue to:
- work to expand Medicaid to non-expansion states;
- encourage states who have established Medicaid reimbursement rates at parity with Medicare rates to maintain those rates and push to establish Medicaid/Medicare parity in all states;
- support innovations in Medicaid that promote access, quality, and high-value care and will ensure the program has long-term sustainability;
- advocate for these vital programs as our nation decides the priorities for the future.
Thank you for all you do for patients!
R. Scott Poppen, MD MPA
Scott is a retired internist, Utah State Director, and member of the Doctors for America Board of Directors.
As doctors and medical students and advocates, it can feel like there's never enough time to do all the things we want to do. Especially in times like these, it's incredibly important for us to take care of ourselves so we can take care of others.
As part of our continued focus on wellness, which began at our most recent conference, please join us for a conversation on sleep with sleep expert, and the author of The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington.
Doctors for America Presentation on Physician Wellness and The Sleep Revolution
with Arianna Huffington
Wednesday, August 3
7 PM Eastern/ 4 PM Pacific
Have a question you want asked on the call? Enter it here.
Arianna is the co-founder, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, and author of The Sleep Revolution.
Mona Mangat, MD
Mona is an allergist-immunologist and the Chair of Doctors for America
Sonia Vishin Compton, MD
Sonia is a practicing pulmonologist in Louisville Kentucky and is Board Certified in Pulmonary & Critical Care medicine.
The past couple of weeks have been a time of deep introspection and searching to make sense of what's happening in the world around us and what we can do to acknowledge the pain and fundamentally make things better. While words are far less adequate than action, we want to share a statement that we released to the press last week on behalf of the Doctors for America movement:
“This has been a challenging week for the nation. We have watched Alton Sterling shot to death while selling CD's outside a convenience store. We saw Philando Castile, a beloved school lunch supervisor, shot to death while driving home from the grocery store. We are witnesses to five police officers — Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith, and Michael Krol — shot to death and seven others wounded while doing their jobs and protecting a peaceful demonstration. These tragedies come on the heels of 49 people shot to death while dancing on a Saturday night in Orlando just one month ago.
“As doctors and medical students who have dedicated our careers to protecting health and saving lives, we mourn every loss. We call upon society to do everything we can to prevent tragic deaths from stealing the hopes, dreams, and futures of any person in America.
“That means affirming that Black lives matter. That means recognizing that every life is precious. That means taking a hard look at the prejudices and implicit biases that each of us carry and doing everything we can to remove those prejudices and biases. That means ensuring that law enforcement is well trained and well supported to de-escalate potential conflicts and eliminating racial bias from all aspects of our criminal justice system. That means passing common sense legislation to reduce gun violence including funding federal research on gun violence, investing in programs that reduce violence, and ensuring that no one who poses a likely threat to others or themselves can purchase a firearm. That means doing the hard work of building and strengthening trust and bonds between each of us and anyone who looks, talks, and thinks differently.
“Together, we can build a stronger and more cohesive society where everyone can live to their full potential.”
In times like this, it is easy to feel as though everything is going wrong. We cannot ignore the challenges and problems the nation faces. But we also cannot lose sight of the continued march of progress that every member of Doctors for America has been a part of in the past eight years since our movement first came together. Your voice, your stories, your participation in the actions and campaigns that we collectively take on are creating a better world for our patients, communities, and the nation.
In the face of pain and tragedy, it is up to each of us to find the courage and persistence to make ourselves be more honest and open about both what divides us and what brings us together, about the power and culpability that each of us has to bridge divides or deepen them, to bring more love and compassion or more fear and hatred into the world, to look to the light or focus on the darkness.
What gives me hope is seeing Doctors for America members continue marching forward. With your help and thoughtful input, we will gain better access to equitable, affordable, high quality health care for every person in America and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to live a life of health and vitality. We will expand Medicaid to the millions who need it in the remaining 19 states. We will make sure our patients can afford their medications. We will save lives from gun violence. We will tackle the challenge of bringing mental health disorders and substance use disorders out of the shadows of stigma and into the care people need. We will ensure that the color of your skin does not dictate whether violence will visit your family. We will not shy away from taking on longstanding and emerging threats to health so people can pursue their dreams.
Many of us are wondering what we can do. Here is an initial list of ways we can each do our part, but it is just the start of a conversation we want to continue with each person in the Doctors for America family. Tell us what you are doing and what else you think the Doctors for America movement can do to make tomorrow a better day.
- Building bridges in your own life: Each of us can make an extra effort to be aware of and challenge our own biases, prejudices, and blind spots. Proactively connect with and learn about people and communities that are outside your normal circles, especially those that are hurting and feeling marginalized. Ask your patients about their experiences and their communities. Host a dinner or brunch and create a safe space where people in your life from different backgrounds can openly share their perspectives, fears, and hopes.
- Sharing with the Doctors for America community: We would love to put together opportunities where Doctors for America members learn from members of our incredibly diverse community. Let us know if you're interested in participating and sharing.
- Doctors for America campaigns: Get involved in our campaigns and initiatives to take on barriers to health and opportunity. We are always seeking leaders for our active or planned campaigns and actions on many fronts including Medicaid expansion, mental health, affordable drugs, substance and opioid use, racial disparities, food insecurity, gun violence, and more. Even if you cannot lead, your participation at any level is the heart of this movement, including inviting others to join our movement and contributing financially.
- Additional organized efforts: A group of doctors and medical students has authored "A Letter to Our Patients" with commitments to address structural racism as health care professionals. There are many events happening to highlight the growing scourge of gun violence both in communities and a #DisarmHate rally in DC on August 13. There are many other efforts arising out of recent events, and we encourage you to participate in efforts that speak to you especially those that are happening in your own community.
One more important note. As doctors and medical students, we focus our lives on taking care of those around us. As advocates, we demand even more of ourselves after hours and on weekends. But we can only keep changing the world if we carve out the space to take care of ourselves. So please, take the time to take of yourself, and we will continue this march together long into the future.
Congress is back in Washington, DC for their last two weeks before summer recess. They are debating three major public health issues that Doctors for America members know are important for patients.
As doctors and medical students, we need to tell Congress that they need to take action NOW to address gun violence, combat Zika, and save lives from the rapid rise in opioid addition.
Join us in urging Congress to put patients over politics to protect the public health. Take five minutes to make your voice heard on one or all of the issues below.
GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION - The shooting in Orlando happened less than a month ago, and 91 people continue to die every day from gun violence. The only way to get Congress to act is to show them we are serious. We must keep speaking out to demand a solution to the gun violence crisis, including an end to the ban on CDC gun violence research and funding for this important work.
ZIKA FUNDING - We know Zika is coming to the continental U.S. this summer. Despite rising temperatures and an emergency fund request months ago, Congress has still not approved funds to get ready for Zika and make sure we can detect, diagnose, and prevent Zika before it's too late. Urge Congress put patients over politics and approve the funding necessary to control this impending crisis.
OPIOID ABUSE & HEROIN EPIDEMIC - Over 2 million people in the U.S. are suffering from opioid use disorders and addiction. This number has skyrocketed in the past 20 years. Congress has approved a set of bills to address the problem but with one catch -- they have approved no funding. Doctors and medical students urge Congress to move quickly to commit the funding necessary to battle the opioid abuse and the heroin epidemic so we can begin healing patients and saving lives.
TAKE ACTION BY CALLING 202-224-3121
Thank you for speaking up for patients and communities. Together, we can make sure our nation puts patients over politics and makes health a priority.
Orlando. 49 dead. 53 injured. Most were in their 20's and 30's. Vibrant, healthy people who were in the right place at the right time - dancing and enjoying life with a community where they could be free. One angry person should not be able to kill and injure so many.
Some would prefer a moment of silence to address this tragedy. As doctors and medical students, we know silence is not the answer. We must raise our voices louder and honor the lives of those lost with action.
Even as we write, our colleagues in hospitals across Orlando are scrambling to treat and save those who were injured.
Our profession is doing our part. Congress needs to do theirs. Every year, for twenty years, they have voted to pass a federal budget that restricts the CDC from doing gun violence research. We won't let them do that again.
As early as today, we expect an amendment to be introduced in the House to end the ban on gun violence research.
It's time to flood Congress with calls from doctors and medical students EVERY DAY.
It's easy. Call the Capitol Switchboard now: 202-224-3121
Then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what happened and tell your friends to call too.
Never called Congress before? You can bet the NRA will be calling them and telling them to hold strong. Here's what you can say:
"My name is [X]. I am a [Doctor or Medical Student] from [your city] with Doctors for America. I am outraged by what happened in Orlando. It is past time for us as a nation to see that gun violence is a public health crisis that we can no longer ignore. Will you vote to end the ban on CDC gun violence research and fund the CDC to do this important work?"
Every day, we mourn with the families of the 32,000 people every year who are killed by guns. We struggle to heal the 108,000 people every year who are injured - many of them permanently robbed of a fully functioning life.
Because of you, Doctors for America is leading the way on this critical issue. We delivered a petition to Congress from doctors and medical students in all 50 states. We have gathered a growing coalition of over 100 medical, public health, and science organizations who are taking a stand including the American Public Health Association, the American Medical Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and many more. And we are working with champions in both the House and Senate to build support in Congress including organizing a bipartisan letter signed by 146 House members two weeks ago.
We can win this fight if all of us work together. In the days and weeks to come, your advocacy will make all the difference.
Many of you have been following the news of the the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Just last week doctors confirmed that a baby had been born with Zika-linked microcephaly at the Hackensack University Medical Centre in New Jersey. Zika has the potential to cause a lot of illness and suffering in the United States. We know that those of us living in the Gulf Coast states, like my home state of Florida, where the tropical climate is hospitable to mosquitoes, are most likely to be impacted by Zika. But, this public health crisis can be controlled -- if we act now.
Unfortunately, many members of Congress have opposed allocating the $1.9 billion in funding requested by the Obama administration. This funding is needed right now -- as we head into mosquito season -- and is vital to ramping up surveillance efforts, controlling the mosquitoes spreading Zika, accelerating research into new vaccines and diagnostic tests and helping countries already battling the virus.
As doctors and medical students, we know all too well that the lives of our most vulnerable patients are at stake. I hope you will join me in speaking up to make our voices heard.
Here’s what you can do:
- CONTACT CONGRESS - This is the time to call or email your local representatives to let them know you are concerned about the spread of Zika. Use this activation page to demand Congress put patients over politics and approve the funding necessary to control this impending crisis.
- GET INFORMED - No local mosquito-borne Zika cases have been reported in the U.S., but there have been travel-associated cases. With the recent outbreaks, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the US will likely increase. Use this site to get up to speed. And, watch this video from U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to learn three ways patients can protect themselves and their families.
- INFORM YOUR PATIENTS - Put up this poster in your clinic or office. Urge patients to take preventive measures to avoid mosquito bites. And, talk with pregnant women about whether they or their male sex partners have recently traveled to an area with Zika.
- PEN AN OP-ED OR LTE- Write an opinion piece or letter to the editor urging your member of Congress to put patients over politics and provide the funds needed to prevent the spread of the Zika virus.
When it comes to addressing gun violence, doctors and medical students have proven ourselves to be one of the most effective messengers.
Together, we have made national and international news to raise awareness for the 20-year ban on gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We’ve led over 100 of the Nation’s leading medical and public health groups -- including the American Medical Association-- to support ending the effective ban on gun violence research. Our voices are having a tremendous impact.
In order to keep up this important work we must chip in more than our time. We need to raise funds to keep fighting to reduce gun violence and make our communities safer. Without your generous donation, Doctors for America won't be around to fight these important battles.
As doctors, we know the long-lasting devastation that comes with gun violence, with 91 Americans who die each day and the 108 who are injured. It is so important for us to keep speaking up. There has never been a better time to maximize your donation. Please consider giving today.
Nina Agrawal, MD and David Berman, DO
Co-Leaders of the DFA Gun Violence Prevention Campaign
It’s that time of year again.
Today, we’re kicking off our Spring Membership Drive.
Over the next week and a half you will hear from us about our victories together, the work ahead and what is required to continue to fund this movement with the same independent approach to advocacy that has allowed Doctors for America to mobilize thousands of physicians and medical students to improve the health and lives of our patients for the last seven years.
In that time, you have helped us prove the power of the collective physician voice in making change for our patients in matters of public health. From the confirmation of our past President and co-founder Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, to our success in helping to pass the Affordable Care Act, to standing up for Flint, and raising awareness for the nearly 20-year effective ban on CDC gun research.
Doctors for America depends on individuals like you for the majority of our funding. The future of our work together will only be limited only by the scope of our commitment. And, that includes the financial commitment of our membership in seeing the tremendous work of this organization continue in the years ahead.
Please consider joining myself and your colleagues in supporting Doctors for America today.
Mona Mangat, MD
Doctors for America, Chair
As physicians and medical students, we know all too well that the price of prescription drugs affects the health of our patients. High prices for prescription drugs prevent many of our patients from accessing the treatments that they need, forcing many to choose between medications and rent as out of pocket costs grow.
However, what is most frustrating is this: any time a common-sense proposal to address drug prices is put forward, powerful interests mobilize to quickly quash it.
This is happening now with a new proposal. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is proposing a set of 6 pilot projects aimed at testing possible reforms to how prescription drugs are reimbursed and the “value” of a drug is measured under Medicare Part B. These reforms are sensible approaches that deserve to be piloted and compared, as it is only through their testing that we can make an educated choice about which reforms will be most effective for our healthcare system – especially our patients.
However, political interests are rallying against them, and a battle is brewing.
Your voices – and those of your patients - need to be heard! CMS is seeking public comment on the proposed reforms, and YOU can submit a comment to support them and counteract those with financial interests in fighting these reforms. The deadline for submitting comments is May 9th.
Below is sample language to get you started. Feel free to modify with your own perspective and stories about how drug prices have affected your patients. If you are willing, please also EMAIL your comment to Justin Lowenthal (justin.lowenthal@
As always, if you have any questions or ideas, or if you have further thoughts in agreement OR disagreement on this issue, please email one of us and make your voice heard!
Always fighting to make care affordable for our patients,
Justin Lowenthal, MD/PhD student
Bruce Rector, MD
Mark Rood, MD
Dennis Deruelle, MD
Co-leaders of the DFA Drug Pricing/Value Campaign
“As a PHYSICIAN/MEDICAL STUDENT advocating on behalf of the patients I see every day, , I support the proposal by the CMS to test a sensible set of models aimed at changing how CMS pays for medications under Medicare Part B. High drug prices affect all types of patients: those needing chemotherapy, drugs for cardiovascular disease, treatments for autoimmune diseases, even antibiotics for life-threatening
No matter whether a primary care physician in family practice or subspecialist oncologist, each of us sees the effects of this problem daily. We know that drug prices are too high to be sustainable for our healthcare system and are alarmed by frequent, often exorbitant price increases. As a (INSERT DESCRIPTION – PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN, ONCOLOGIST, DOCTOR-IN-TRAINING
I think the approach that CMS is taking – to test a set of alternative payment models and other proposed reforms to better reward the value of a prescription drug – is a laudable and common-sense approach. It is only through this testing of pilot reforms that we will be able to choose the best option for our health care system and our patients moving forward.
I urge CMS to resist pressure from political interests on Capitol Hill and to move forward with this proposed set of reforms. In doing so, you will have my full support, and that of Doctors for America.”