Medical students petition to preserve Obamacare

By on January 25, 2017

Medical students at Quinnipiac aren’t always making house calls, but some are making Senate calls They have been calling senators across the country in order to preserve the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare.

The ACA was passed in 2010 and some of its features include coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and allowing younger adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26, according to the Health and Human Services website.

President Trump took steps toward eliminating the act with an executive order he issued on Jan. 20, impacting regulations like requiring Americans to buy insurance, according to the Washington Post.

This student action is part of a wider movement known as “ #protectourpatients,” according to Terence Meehan, a graduate student involved in the national phone call campaign.

For Meehan, the phone calls aren’t just a matter of getting the medical students involved in politics, but about an obligation.

“As future physicians, we are dedicated to serving the interests of our future patients, and we have a responsibility to promote justice in the healthcare system,” he said.

The movement was started by the group Doctors for America. According to their official site, Doctors for America is a health- care activist group with 18,000 members nationwide, mostly physicians and students.

The national movement may have an impact on the discussion about the ACA. As seen on the #protectourpatients official Facebook page, they have met with Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Susan Collins, also of Maine. The group has thanked Republican Sen. Rand Paul for voting in support of keeping the ACA for the time being.

On Wednesdays, a group of about 10 Quinnipiac students will make calls to senators for about an hour, according to Meehan. So far, the students have been making calls for two weeks.

It may not seem like much, but Meehan insists that they’re putting in all the time they can.

“It’s giving up your lunch hour on a very busy day, for very busy medical students,” he said.

Dr. Traci Marquis-Eydman, an associate professor at Quinnipiac, said even as a medical professional, time is hard to come by in everyday life.

“[Physicians] find ourselves with a limited quantity of time. You’re paid based on the number [of patients seen]… I could become more politically active… but the reality is that my patients won’t get seen, and I won’t get paid,” she said.

However, Marquis-Eydman wishes she and other doctors could have participated in political activities, but is proud of medical students nationwide who are getting involved.

“If we don’t advocate for our patients, unfortunately no one else will. It’s up to us to do that, and these students who are becoming more politically active are paving the way, and they’re making it more of the norm to be vocal and outspoken,” she said.

Freshman Betts Miller, an occupational therapy major, likes the idea that fellow medical students are getting involved in politics.

“Everyone needs to be involved with what’s happening in the world and, especially medical students with the ACA, [because it] affects them in the future, and the people they interact with.

Nicole Mawhirter, a freshman physical therapy major, thinks that #protectourpatients is a good thing, because young people need to be heard.

“[For] kids our age and everyone getting through college, the Affordable Care Act affects me and affects a lot of people and helps with the cost of different healthcare,” she said.

Meehan said he will be making the Wednesday calls for as long as he needs to. However, he feels that the future of healthcare in America is uncertain.

“The healthcare system in the United States has had serious problems for several decades now.,” he said. “We have the finest healthcare institutions in the world, yet we ration by cost and we make people shut out from them. It’s unclear where we go from here, but I hope that a guiding principle is that all Americans deserve affordable, quality healthcare.”

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About Matt Grahn

Staff Writer, Journalism Major, Political Science Minor