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Why We Care: Justice, Integrity, and Compassion

By Dr. Robyn Liu

This week, Doctors for America is proud to announce a new petition campaign that aims to slice through politics and heated rhetoric to the heart of the matter in health care: a statement of commitment to a system based on justice, integrity, and compassion. These are our core values, the metric by which all health policies should be evaluated.

The first components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), signed into law one year ago this month, have already helped millions of Americans obtain access to health care. Many of these people are my own patients. There is Tina, a graduate student and avid runner who was able to have her ACL repaired after she regained coverage under her parents’ insurance plan. There is Peter, a young boy with a baffling chronic disease whose parents can now focus on his care without worrying that he’ll be denied coverage if they ever have to switch insurance plans. Tom, whose diabetes spiraled out of control last December when he “fell into the donut hole,” got $250 in the mail to help defray the cost of his medications this year.

We are physicians, and for us, the health policy debate is and always has been about the patients. We are frustrated by heated political rhetoric that misleads people into fear and anger, without doing anything to advance the cause of equitable, quality care for all Americans. Here are just a few things that we stand to lose if the PPACA were to be repealed, defunded or otherwise hamstrung by this Congress:

  • 4,500,000 early retirees covered by 5000 companies have been helped by the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program
  • Over 1,000,000 seniors in the donut hole got a $250 rebate check last year, and are now getting 50% discounts on brand-name drugs in the donut hole
  • Everyone with a new health insurance plan and the more than 40 million seniors on Medicare now have zero co-pays when obtaining preventive care
  • Two million young adults are now eligible to be covered under their parents' insurance plans 
  • Insurance companies can never discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions
  • All people can no longer have their insurance taken away arbitrarily
  • All people with private insurance are eligible for a rebate if their insurance companies spend too much of their premium money on administration, overhead, and CEO bonuses, rather than on the health care of their members
  • Over sixteen million people work for 4 million small businesses that can now get a tax credit for insurance premiums
  • Five million people previously without care now have access to community health centers
  • $4 billion in taxpayer money was returned to the Medicare Trust Fund by enhanced fraud programs in 2010

Some whom we have elected to be our leaders have chosen to inflame partisan rhetoric rather than guide us forward to better health care for all. The environment has gotten so confusing, in fact, that one in five Americans believe the law has already been repealed! More than ever, our nation needs doctors’ voices to combat the noise – not by making even louder noise, but by rising above it to bring everyone back to the core values that made us care about system reform in the first place. That is why Doctors for America will be delivering a message to political leaders from all fifty states: Put the focus back where it belongs, on the health of our patients, and don’t waste time on political games. Join us – sign the petition today. 


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