The White Coats Are Coming: AMSA, Doctors Demand “Do No Harm” to GOP Senate Health Bill
Daniel H. Gouger, M.D.
Education & Advocacy Fellow
American Medical Student Association
The Senate Republicans’ version of a health care bill—crafted in secret and released last week—likely will be voted upon before the July 4th holiday. While legislative aides began poring over its language, doctors, medical students, and other healthcare providers gathered on Capitol Hill with a unified, clear message: Patients always come first.
WASHINGTON, DC – June 26, 2017 – Former Vice President Joe Biden is renowned for the statement, “Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value,” which he attributed to his father. After a series of secret meetings and what feels like Operation Oligarchy, a core group of Senate Republicans finally made their values apparent after publicly releasing their handy work.
To even label the GOP magnum opus as a health care bill is daft. The cruel, inconsequential attitudes toward devastating Americans’ health are palpable, all simply to make good on campaign promises. Ripping apart our communities and obstructing patient care in exchange for tax cuts has no justice, liberty, or fairness–it’s clandestine.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the drafted bill, predicting 22 million people would lose insurance. We readily see deep cuts to Medicaid and a phase-out of the program’s expansion, a key component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). All members of our community—children, the working poor, the growing numbers of baby boomers in long-term care facilities, persons with disabilities, women, people struggling with mental health and substance abuse –deserve equitable, affordable, comprehensive coverage that actuarially counts as health insurance. Regardless of bill scores, provisional trade-offs, and political platitudes, there’s no way to mask that dismantling Medicaid and other protections in the ACA leaves millions of Americans uninsured at the bottom line in the future.
In a White Coat Press Conference hosted by the office of Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D., his sentiments, along with other Congressional leaders present, including Rep. Ami Bera, M.D., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, were clear: Much work is yet to be done to continue improving the American health care system, but gains like essential health benefits and more people receiving health care coverage that saves lives cannot be rolled back. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer applauded the group of doctors, medical students, and other providers shouting, “The White Coats are coming!”–an invigorating, historical nod to the pressure we face as Senate votes for this bill loom on the horizon of Independence Day recess.
These health care advocates traveled from across the country, many just finishing night shifts and returning to a full patient schedule. They all clad the iconic attire that symbolizes medicine’s values of trust, compassion, and commitment to health equity for all people. Their message was simple: “Do no harm; patients always come first.”
AMSA supports health care reform that expands comprehensive coverage and access for all persons living in the United States. In absence of a single-payer system, AMSA views the expansion of Medicaid envisioned in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as an essential step toward increased access to health care and health insurance. Join us in organizing, mobilizing, and demanding that our senators and representatives reject these cuts to the foundations of a healthy America.
About the American Medical Student Association:
AMSA is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. To learn more about AMSA, our strategic priorities, or joining the organization, please visit us online.