Senator Bernie Sanders opened his announcement of the Medicare for All Act of 2019, “Let me be as clear as I can be. Health care is a human right. Not a privilege.” The American Medical Student Association has outlined support for this idea in its governing documents as early as 1994. For over two decades, medical students have spoken out for a health care system in America that is in the best interest of people, not profits. AMSA’s national president, Perry Tsai, MD PhD, spoke for these decades of AMSA members to publicly support Medicare for All.
For every clinical recommendation that we’ve made, we’ve also sat quietly as a patient is choosing to leave the hospital or skip their medication because they don’t want to strap their family with the bill. For everything that we learn on our way to becoming physicians who learn to care for their patients, we find one more thing that is going to prevent us from caring for our patients. —Perry Tsai, Md PhD
Read the full contents of Dr. Tsai’s address below.
“Hello everyone, I am Perry Tsai, national president of AMSA, the American Medical Student Association, and a recent MD/PhD graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. I am here representing the voice of AMSA’s 27,000 members, the voice of 27,000 physicians in training, an independent voice of the future of medicine. And with that voice, we as future physicians are here to say WANT MEDICARE FOR ALL!
As medical students, we all start out with this dream. A dream of becoming doctors, physicians, true healers for our patients and communities. We signed up for the hours of studying, months of clinical rotations, years of residency, to achieve this dream.
And what do we learn in all of this training?
We learn how to do procedures, what drugs to use, what clinical decisions to consider.
We learn how to think critically, how to ask questions, how to diagnose a problem and tackle it.
We learn all of these things in order to become a physician who cares for patients, families, and communities.
What else do we learn?
For every procedure we perform, we’ve also seen the exasperation flash across a doctor’s eyes as they field another call from the insurance company.
For every drug we memorize, we’ve also watched pharma executives drive up the the prices of medicines so high that our patients can’t get them.
For every clinical recommendation we make, we’ve also sat quietly with the patient who is choosing to leave the hospital because they know they won’t be able to afford the bill.
For each thing we learn on our way to becoming physicians who care for patients, we find one more thing that will PREVENT us from caring for our patients.
For every medical student that is burning bright with passion, there is a future physician who is burning out from the administrative burdens, the loss of connection with their patients, the feeling of powerlessness generated by a system that values profits over people. As our country faces a looming physician shortage, we find more and more
reasons to just stay away. Our dream is turning into a nightmare, and we will not stand for it.
We’re thinking critically, and we’re asking the questions, why does it have to be this way?
We’re diagnosing the problem, and we are looking for solutions. The root cause is that in our country, healthcare is controlled by insurance and pharmaceutical companies who value profit instead of healthcare. Senator Sanders is offering a real solution here today in “Medicare for All.”
“Medicare for All” means our patients will all have health insurance regardless of their employment status and will have access to the healthcare they need. Medicare for All means that physicians can spend more time with their patients and less time with insurance companies. Medicare for All means they pharmaceutical companies must negotiate to make drugs affordable for all our patients.
And ultimately, Medicare for All is about justice. So many of the problems we have in the United States…Racial inequality. Economic inequality, these all start from or lead to healthcare inequality. Medicare for All is a step toward healthcare justice, is a step toward economic justice, is a step toward racial justice.We at AMSA believe that healthcare is a human right, and we at AMSA envision a more just world, where we can fulfill our dreams to become physicians providing that healthcare. That’s why we need healthcare for all. That’s why we need Medicare for All.”