“We need a real solution that provides affordable, comprehensive healthcare for all Americans from birth until death. And we need those on the front-line of the healthcare system to stand up and demand it.”
“Hello Ms. Jimenez!”
She grimaced when I flipped the light switch but quickly smiled, a sign she just woke up from much needed slumber. This was no ordinary day for Ms. Jimenez; she had delivered her second child the night before, a healthy baby boy born at full term. I congratulated Ms. Jimenez and asked her the standard postpartum questions about breastfeeding, contraception plans, and follow-up appointments. Yes, she had an appointment for her son. But she would not be scheduling any for herself.
Ms. Jimenez did not have health insurance.
She made enough in wages to not qualify for Medicaid but was unable to afford the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace insurance plans. New Mexico has state funding for medical care for pregnant women, but after delivery, people are kicked off. This was especially concerning as her last pap smear suggested a pre-cancerous growth that would require follow up care.
The Affordable Care Act has improved the lives of over 750,000 New Mexicans by expanding the Medicaid program. But it still leaves 26 million adults uninsured in the United States. While the ACA may have been a step in the right direction, the plan still leaves too many without any insurance, has permitted skyrocketing deductibles and premiums, and ignores outrageous drug prices. Ultimately, it falls short of providing affordable, comprehensive, universal health insurance.
Republicans just released the American Health Care Act, the “wonderful new Healthcare Bill” as tweeted by the President early Tuesday morning. But the AHCA will further disrupt America’s already tenuous health care by downsizing Medicaid benefits for millions of low-income families, reducing premium and out-of-pocket subsidies for poor and middle income Americans and giving tax breaks to only the wealthiest individuals. Ultimately, hurting accessible and affordable healthcare access for the low and middle classes.
The ACA is not doing enough for Americans. And the AHCA is a clear assertion by Republicans that affordable health care is not a priority.
We need a real solution that provides affordable, comprehensive healthcare for all Americans from birth until death. And we need those on the front-line of the healthcare system to stand up and demand it.
In honor of Ms. Jimenez, I am flying to Philadelphia, on March 11th, along with hundreds of health professional students from across the country to attend the Students for a National Health Program summit at Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. We refuse to work in a system where private interests dictate patient care. I will join my colleagues in building the movement for improved and expanded Medicare for All, a national health program that would cover all Americans, cut waste, and provide excellent care. Furthermore, it would provide so many uninsured New Mexicans an opportunity to see a doctor without having to ration their grocery budget for the month.
I look forward to practicing medicine in a health system where I can ask patients like Ms. Jimenez standard postpartum questions and know my patients will have follow-up appointments and the medical care they need. More importantly, I am committed to making this system a reality.
Bryant Shuey is a medical student at the University of New Mexico and a co-founder of UNM SNaHP. Bryant believes transitioning to a nationalized health system is essential for removing the barriers of cost and access that most Americans face when looking for health care and that it is our duty as future health professionals to advocate for our patients needs by looking to health reform for solutions. Outside of medical school, Bryant is an avid water polo player and enjoys walking his dog Susie. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org