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Monday, January 9, 2017

Future Medical Professionals Group Delivers Petitions to Congress

Talia Schmidt


Today in Washington, D.C., a rally of nearly 70 future medical professionals representing 50 states and more than 150 medical institutions gathered to tell Congress not to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The group—the newly formed Protect Our Patients—delivered a petition with the more than 4,000 signatures it collected from invested health care advocates and future medical professionals who know that repealing the ACA violates their “Do no harm” oath—one that Congress should also follow. 

Sidra Bonner, a medical student at University of California San Francisco who is also earning her Master’s in Public Health Policy at Harvard, helped organize the event. 

“This event came out of the Protect Our Patients movement, a grassroots advocacy effort across the country,” Bonner said. “Today, we’re calling on Congress for bipartisan improvements to the ACA. Otherwise 30 million people lose health insurance. Today, we’re asking Congress to put patients over politics.” 

It’s a matter of death, she added.

Protect Our Patients gather on the Hill, Monday, January 9.

Others in attendance worked their entire lives to become doctors and want to protect the patients they will one day serve.

“We entered the medical professional to serve the people,” Sobieski said. “And that’s why legislators are here, too,” said Rayna Sobieski, a 4th-year student at George Washington University studying family medicine for the urban underserved. 

“We can’t forget about these people,” Sobieski said of the demographic which she’s studying to represent. 

Sobieski acknowledged that the ACA needs improvements, but emphasized that it’s a small number of people who have suffered from higher premiums making the most noise; a vast majority have been helped by it. 

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the actual health policy within the ACA,” Sobieski said. “Starting over from scratch is not the answer.”
Making improvements to health legislation is a hallmark of democracy—allowing politicians from all backgrounds to weigh in to strengthen our systems. 

“I read recently that with Medicare, there’s been an amendment every year since it passed in the 60s to strength the legislation to make it better.” 
Why can’t we do the same for the Affordable Care Act? 

“I’m here so we don’t forget about those people, the people I’m serving. The urban underserved, most of whom are on Medicaid,” Sobieski said. “The only reason they got health insurance is through Medicaid expansion under the ACA. We can’t let that get taken away from them.” 
Sobieski’s close friend Mariana Evans rallied with her. A 4th-year pathology student at George Washington University, Evans attended today’s rally for one reason:

“We want to make sure people have the resources they need, regardless of their income,” Evans said. “That’s why I’m here; it’s as simple as that.” 

Two of the event’s organizers, Matt Meizlish and Priscilla Wang of Yale, shared their feelings of responsibility to stand up to give voice to the voiceless. 

“It’s critical to add to this fight our generation’s voice, which often gets lost in the politics or dominated by older generations,” Wang shared. “It’s our responsibility to stand up.” 

In the midst of the political chaos surrounding repeal of the Affordable Care Act, it’s important to keep in mind the millions of lives at stake. 

“If the ACA is repealed, patients will die,” said Micah Johnson, a 2nd-year med student at Harvard. “We’ve dedicated our whole lives to this, to protecting patients.” 

Now he says he’s watching that right—the right to affordable health insurance for every individual—be treated as privilege and threatened before his very eyes. 

“What we’re advocating for is not controversial,” Johnson said. “We all have a shared goal of wanting quality health care for all and fixing our health care system so that it can help people when they get sick.”