This week, we celebrate six years of progress since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. Because of physician advocates like you, 20 million more Americans are insured than when this movement began and the Nation’s uninsured rate is at a record low.
We have made tremendous progress together on expanding access to care. Yet, we know there is much more work to be done to expand Medicaid in the remaining states and address the social determinants of health, which affect our patients where they live, work and play. The voices of doctors and medical students have been instrumental in improving the health care system so it works better for patients. With your continued efforts, we will keep making progress together to tackle the problems that impact our patients outside the clinic walls.
In just the first few months of 2016, physician advocates have been working to address gun violence, organizing the first ever racism forum, holding ACA enrollment phonebanks, fighting for Medicaid expansion and rallying at the U.S. Supreme Court to support abortion access.
At the national office, we joined partners at the White House to show our support for President Obama’s executive actions to address our Nation’s gun violence crisis. We also attended The White House summit on child hunger in America, where we heard from experts and providers about how hunger continues to harm children across the country. And, because we know the Flint water crisis is a health and human rights issue, we launched a letter writing campaign to demand Congress put patients over politics to ensure the residents of Flint get urgent access to the health care they need.
Read on to learn what physician advocates have been up to in states across the country.
First Ever Racism Forum in NYC
From Kamini Doobay, a medical student and co-leader of DFA-NY:
On Saturday, March 12th, The Health Department’s Center for Health Equity was joined by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the Institute of Family Health, Doctors for America-NY, White Coats for Black Lives, CUNY School of Public Health and several other organizations to co-host a day-long, action-oriented forum, “Dismantling Racism in the NYC Health System –The Time is Now.” The event marked a historic day for the health community in New York City....Racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare exist and because they are associated with worse outcomes in many cases, are unacceptable. Having grown up in a community that was either neglected or targeted, I was often skeptical about all the talking we learned to do as medical professionals. After seeing injustice and oppression, I knew that we needed more doers and fewer talkers. Read more.
Rally to Protect Abortion Access
From Dr. Katherine Scheirman, a retired internist and US Air Force Colonel who resides in New York:
Dr. Manisha Sharma and I represented Doctors for America at a “Stop the Sham” rally on the steps of the US Supreme Court March 2, joining thousands of other supporters of women’s access to safe and legal abortion care, on a very cold and windy day. The 8 Justices were hearing oral arguments in one of the most significant abortion case in decades, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Abortion providers in Texas, led by Whole Woman’s Health, have challenged Texas HB2, a law that forces abortion clinics to meet the standards of hospital-style surgery centers and requires providers to obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Read more.
Enrollment Phone Bank in North Carolina
From Dr. Seanta Clark, North Carolina State Leader:
I helped to organize a phone bank in January in collaboration with Enroll America, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated to contact people to encourage them to take advantage of the Health Insurance Marketplace enrollment before the January 31st deadline. The event was held at The Asian American Library in Charlotte and we had 2 evening phone bank sessions. All told, we contacted 400 people to remind them about the new benefits available and the upcoming deadline! The earlier part of the day consisted of canvassing designated neighborhoods to encourage people to sign up for health insurance. We had a very enjoyable time with impactful conversations on healthcare. It was a great event and a nice way to reach the uninsured!
Gun Violence Prevention Working Group
From Dr. David Berman, co-leader of DFA’s gun violence prevention campaign:
The Doctors for America gun violence working group held a call to discuss our work on the CDC research ban and provide an update on the status of the docs v. glocks case. Our efforts to date on the CDC research ban have gone a long way in helping to raise awareness for the nearly 20 year ban on federal gun violence research. To keep the momentum going, we discussed continuing to coordinate a coalition of medical and public health groups as well as researchers. In the coming weeks we plan to organize a membership wide call with special guest experts, so look for more on that from us in the very near future.
Drug Pricing Working Group
From Bruce Rector, co-leader of DFA Drug Pricing/Value campaign:
The Doctors for America Drug Price & Value Campaign team leaders Dennis Deruelle, Justin Lowenthal, Bruce Rector, and Mark Rood are actively working to inform, encourage, and empower physicians to join discussions on healthcare value and pharmaceutical prices...Our team leaders have been actively participating in national and local meetings on drug prices to learn more about possible solutions, to provide the DFA provider perspective on initiatives, and to focus the debate on our patients' needs. Among these high levels meetings are the HHS Pharmaceutical Forum (Bruce), Academy Health National Health Policy Conference (Mark), Center for American Progress Stakeholder Roundtable on Drug Costs (Bruce), John Hopkins Symposium on Prescription Drug Pricing: New Solutions (Justin), and alternative payment reform discussions (Dennis). Read more.
Medicaid Expansion in Louisiana
From Dr. Heidi Sinclair, Louisiana State Director:
As State Director for Doctors for America in Louisiana, I was invited to participate in Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s Public Square program on Medicaid Expansion and was able to bring other DFA members to participate in the discussion as well. Meanwhile, HCEL, in collaboration with Louisiana Public Health Institute and the Department of Health and Hospitals - Office of Public Health, has also organized a state-wide Health Summit which will be held in Baton Rouge this Tuesday, March 29th. Read more