In uncertain times, conviction is the currency by which we measure the merit of our institutions. And right now, our medical schools need to prove their merit. They should do so by publicly endorsing efforts to save and augment the Affordable Care Act.
You are likely familiar with the fundamentals of the law and the routes it provides to affordable health insurance. For tens of millions of our patients, this signifies discrepancies between sickness and health, and even life and death.
Estimates suggest that increased coverage avoids virtually 44,000 demises every year. The law also jettisons the barbaric practise of denying insurance for pre-existing conditions and offers profound advantages for womens health care. And students might appreciate that they can stay on their parents insurance until age 26, saving hundreds or thousands of dollars.
To a greater or lesser degree, this is common knowledge. But financial perspectives held by a growing number of medical students is somewhat foreign to most people outside the profession, and even some people within. To understand it, we should recall how the United States approached medication until simply a few years ago.
Most developed world have a national health systems. For them, medicine is something of a social tenet. But in the United States, health care is an individual aspiration. There is no overarching societal desire to ensure everyone has access.
We are the first generation of medical students raised with a different mentality.
That mentality also imbues the practice of medicine. We focus on the patient in front of us and tend to lose track of the larger world beyond the office or hospital walls. If a patient does not have insurance, that is just the way it is, and we move on.
However, because of the Affordable Care Act, we are the first generation of medical students raised with a different attitude. Our classes reverberate with a new conceptual framework that ought to drive our age of medication: the idea that health care, rather than being a remote daydream for many, might be there for everyone. It proposes, ultimately, their own nationals alignment with the philosophy of endless compassion intrinsic to medicine.
That philosophy underpins our aspirations as future physicians. We invest our formative times not only crafting our knowledge, but also comprehending for that impossible aim of limitless empathy. It should come as no surprise, then, that we rose promptly to the Affordable Care Acts defense. Within weeks of Trumps election, a student-led movement called #ProtectOurPatients claimed virtually 5,000 members and advocates across 150 medical schools and every country. We rallied our classmates, delivered petitions to Congress, and laid siege to congressional phone lines to support our patients.
So why do we now ask our universities to stand by the ACA? Because something as simple as a public statement, seemingly mere words on paper, gatherings energies that cannot otherwise be harnessed.
My fellow students at Georgetown saw this recently when our faculty condemned the executive order on immigration, explicitly calling for a unified front against that abomination. It is always eye-catching when a major institution break from seasoned neutrality to defend its values.
The cold, indifferent idea of repeal or anemic replacement is basically incompatible with the principles of medicine.
Of course, you might suppose Obamacare is a less clear-cut ideological duel. To some extent this is true. There is ample chamber to debate its flaws and the appropriate remedies. But the cold, indifferent idea of repeal or anemic replacement is basically incompatible with the principles of medicine.
To threw it bluntly, show me a medical school that doesnt espouse the call of philanthropy and sorority, that doesnt demand we elevate the most impoverished among us, and Ill indicate you where not to analyse medicine.
But I am willing to bet that school does not exist. I am willing to bet that every medical university is bear from that ethos of endless compassion, carefully molded into establishments of service and sacrifice. The foundations rise from an agape love for our patients and communities. Thirty million people suddenly robbed of health care does not are in conformity with a single pillar of that practice.
Having been constructed in this image, there is an indisputable moral obligation for these institutions to oppose grievous violations of modesty. We realise it with the travel forbidding. Now we need to see it in health care. The outrage over ruthless discrimination that brought to bear the strength of our communities is the same outrage we have seemed for years as the Affordable Care Acts foes spread lies about demise panels and mythical economic demolition, lies that may literally cost tens of thousands of people their lives.
Universities can remain neutral when rational debate prospers on all sides. But until then, the ACA deserves a strong defense. Medical schools should denounce repeal efforts and stand by our patients with the same compassion the schools instilled in us.
A version of this part first appeared in The Hoya .
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