This article originally appeared in The Pulse. You can read the original post here.
“The SNaHP Summit last year was a great tool for broadening my knowledge base about the nitty-gritty details of ‘Medicare for All’.”
On Saturday March 3, 2018, the Louisiana State University Health Science Center chapter of Students for a National Health Program (SNaHP) will host the 7th annual SNaHP Summit from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in New Orleans, Louisiana. The annual summit is a one-day event that gathers students from multiple disciplines to learn about what a national health program would look like in the United States, and how to think about and advocate for beneficial change in our healthcare system. Attendees network with students from all over the U.S., learn how to talk about health policy, and contribute to national strategy for single-payer advocacy. Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, MD, MPH, FACP, co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), is a graduate of LSUHSC School of Medicine, and will be speaking at the summit.
There are currently 61 SNaHP chapters in 28 states across the country. SNaHP, the student branch of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), advocates for a comprehensive single-payer health program for America.
Members of SNaHP assert that, “A single publicly funded, privately delivered universal healthcare system is necessary for us to provide high-quality care to all our patients.” Advocates point out that although the U.S spends over 17 percent of the GDP on healthcare, more than twice as much as any other industrialized nation, it underperforms in health indicators like life expectancy, infant mortality, and immunization. Furthermore, 33 million people in America are uninsured, which can make simple preventative measures that could deter costly chronic illness and life-threatening diseases inaccessible until it is too late. Additionally, for-profit health insurance companies make necessary healthcare prohibitively expensive even for many insured Americans.
SNaHP members believe a single payer system is the most efficient solution to providing quality healthcare to all U.S. citizens. On paper, it would save $400 billion a year. It would also improve and extend the quality of life of Americans, reduce hospital visits, and enable people to continue working and contributing to the economy.
Second-year medical student and chapter president, Justin Mckone, founded the LSU chapter of SNaHP in 2017.
“I started the SNaHP chapter at LSU to make sure everyone has access to healthcare,” Mckone said. “LSU prepares students to be well-trained and highly educated providers, but if our patients cannot afford our services then all our training and knowledge is wasted.”
He found other students with similar interests. David Lyle, second-year medical student and SNaHP treasurer, said, “I joined SNaHP to get involved with the politics of healthcare. As a healthcare provider, it seems that you should be involved in the decisions on who gets access to that healthcare.”
There are currently 68 LSUHSC students interested in SNaHP, including students from the medical, nursing, and public health schools.
In March of 2017, four members traveled to Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, to attend the 6th annual SNaHP Summit. Over 170 students attended. LSU students were able to collaborate with nursing, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, social work, and medical students from all over the country. There was a panel discussion, breakout sessions on topics like “Legislative Advocacy at the Nexus of Primary Care and Public Health”, planning for chapters organized by region, and a keynote presentation on healthcare justice by Nijmie Dzurinko.
Ashley Duhon, second-year medical student, and SNaHP Secretary, attended the 2017 Summit and looks forward to welcoming students to New Orleans for the 2018 Summit.
“The SNaHP Summit last year was a great tool for broadening my knowledge base about the nitty-gritty details of ‘Medicare for All’ and about how to get involved with advocacy for an issue I care so deeply about,” Duhon said. “I am excited for this year’s conference because this will be a valuable time to work on an action plan for our organization for ways to continue advocating to our Congressmen and educating our fellow medical students on why Medicare for All is the best possible healthcare system for our patients. In addition, I believe this will be a great opportunity for medical students around the country to see the rebuilding and growth that our healthcare system here in New Orleans has experienced since Hurricane Katrina”.
In July, the SNaHP national board asked if the LSU SNaHP chapter would be interested in hosting the 2018 Summit. The LSU chapter met with school administrators, and drafted a proposal for the cost of renting space and personnel at LSU. The SNaHP board accepted the proposal.
Any student from any school can register for the conference. Registration is $30 for conference admission only, and $80 for conference admission and housing for the weekend. Students can visit www.student.pnhp.org to register for the summit.
Claire Mickey is a medical student at Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is the LSU SNaHP chapter VP of Education.