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A Physician Response to Occupy Wall Street: Occupy Health Care!

By Dr. Lisa Plymate
. 7 Comment(s)

In recent months, many of us have been inspired and at times bewildered by the Occupy Wall Street movement.  What is impressive to me is the way these demonstrators have managed to change the tone and even the content of our national debate.  I think all of us recognize in our hearts that we as a nation have to address the needs of "the 99%" if we are to continue to function as a democracy.

With this in mind, a group of us in the DFA Discussion Group worked together on a statement to explore and express our common ground with OWS.  In the spirit of the movement, we wanted a true call to action. We affirm that our action has to include telling the public and lawmakers in Washington DC what physicians want to see.

A Physician Response to Occupy Wall Street:  Occupy Health Care!

We are physicians who are committed to reforming our health care system so that every person has access to affordable, high quality care.  We cannot achieve this without fighting for economic and social justice. As doctors, we support many principles of the Occupy Wall Street movement. We cannot stand by; we must speak out.

We believe:

  • Health care is a human right. We are not just doctors for the 1% or for the 99%, but  for everyone.
  • Economic and social inequalities are toxic to all Americans. These widening disparities directly affect our ability to perform our duties as doctors:  to care for each patient as an individual and to improve our overall national health.
  • In these hard times, a rising number of people suffer from inadequate income, lack of affordable housing, a failing educational system, a polluted environment and lack of access to affordable health care, yet national policies continue to favor those who have the personal means to avoid these problems.
  • Too many aspects of our health care system have become corporate, and health care  does not belong on Wall Street. Corporate decisions are based on shareholder profits and CEO salaries, not patient needs.  A for-profit health care industry raises costs, lowers quality and reduces access. Our obligation as physicians is to work with our patients to help them receive the care they deserve.
  • A healthy society is built on a healthy democracy with fair treatment of all people. The rights and needs of people, not corporations, are central to the health of our democracy.  The highest duty of government is to promote and protect the welfare of its people. This includes promoting conditions leading to better health, while ensuring that everyone has access to appropriate health services when needed.

We agree with the Occupy movement that changes in our national agenda are long overdue. Further, as physicians we must champion the ethical values of our profession by fighting for our patients’ rights. We believe we can – and must – change the health care system and our society to make them more just. We will fight for these principles in our communities and in Washington DC, pushing our system to achieve what we know is right.


Lisa Plymate, MD 
Syed Taznim Raza, MD FACS FACP FCCP
Rebecca Jones, MD
Ina Roy-Faderman, MD
Heidi Sinclair, MD
AJ Layon, MD
Linda Burke-Galloway, MD MS FACOG
Mark D. Tolpin, MD FAAP
Teeb Al-Samarrai, MD
Lisha Barré, MD
Peter Reed, MPH
Eleanor Greene, MD
Christopher M. Hughes, MD

Please submit your name below to sign onto this letter, and share this with your social networks!

We all know we have a hard road ahead of us.  May this piece inspire us all to start on our way through the One Million Campaign - our nationwide education campaign of doctors educating doctors and our communities about the truth about the Affordable Care Act - that is set to launch in Janaury.  If you're a doctor or medical student, you can sign up now.  If you're not a doctor or medical student and want to get involved, contact us.

Share Your Comments


  1. Kohar Jones

    I want to see our health care spending address the social needs of Americans rather than support the biomedical-industrial complex.
  2. Nathan Bahr

    Proud to sign on
  3. Nathan Chomilo

    Democracy requires a well educated populace and when people and corporations can stop worrying about where or how they will get healthcare they can start focusing on the innovative spirit that made our country great.
  4. Joel Weddington MD

    Lisa and supporters, dedicated work, and thanks for positive intent. However I have concern about the OWS movement, and don't see a clear way how aligning with them can empower DFA or our 1M Campaign.

    I've also worried that the 99%/1% is divisive, and if you think about it, undemocratic. I see us as 100%, for better or for worse. Not all of the 99% are out to save the country or restore our healthcare system, and not all of the 1% are bent on destroying it. Also interesting: 16% of the 1% are doctors.

    I hope everyone who is signing on to the Manifesto has walked the camps and spoken with occupiers, as I did a few times in both San Francisco and Oakland. It's a very different scene down on the ground.

    I'll follow along, wish all the best for the Manifesto, and hopefully I'll be wrong and this movement will help reverse the decline of our nation:)

  5. Eugene May

    I agree that 100% of Americans need top quality health care.
  6. Patricia Dawson

    We need to do all that we can to fix our broken health care system and provide accessible, effective, efficient, and high quality care to all Americans.
  7. Thuy Bui

    Social inequalities kill but some of us are afraid that these discussions and movements such as OWS and health care reform undermine social stability and stir up class warfare. But we know that death and disability affect all of us, rich and poor alike and this country still does have the resources to take care of 100% of us if we could rebuild and uphold the social trust that has made America a land of progress and innovation. This means we need to re-establish a level of trust in ourselves, in government, public institutions and yes even in corporations to transform our dysfunctional health care system.

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