“Medicaid members are best served when they have ready access to providers, insurers are eager to resolve their health care needs, and policymakers exercise strong oversight to ensure members’ health…
By Sarah Candler, MD/MPH Candidate 2013, Emory University and Rollins School of Public Health
Today I joined my HealthSTAT colleagues and community partners at the Georgia State Capitol to voice my support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to let Georgia’s lawmakers and citizens know how much the ACA can help our state.
As a future health professional from Georgia, I recognize that caring for my patients extends beyond the clinic, and I’ve seen first-hand the tragedy of un- and under-insurance in our state. Too frequently, my professional training and that of my colleagues in healthcare does not adequately address this kind of trauma. I joined HealthSTAT to educate myself and to help my patients. My learning about and advocating for laws like the ACA will help my patients as much as my learning the mechanisms and treatments of a disease like diabetes. As Dr. Harry Heiman reminded me today on the steps of the capitol, “As doctors, we take an oath to do no harm–we can’t with good conscience deny this beneficial healthcare legislation to our patients.”
Our state suffers from huge disparities in care, in great part because almost half of our citizens work for small businesses, which cannot provide health insurance. The ACA hopes to expand access to healthcare through quasi-state-run insurance plans called exchanges; in doing this, the law hopes to decrease barriers to coverage and subsequent disparities in health. Georgia and other states have argued that the cost of operating these exchanges is too great. Again, Dr. Heiman countered this afternoon, “If these legislators were to visit Grady, visit East Point, visit our ERs, visit the morgues they would quickly realize the cost of NOT pursuing this healthcare reform. They would realize we can’t afford NOT to make this change.”
I rallied at the capitol today with my partners at Georgians for a Healthy Future and Doctors For America to recognize the importance of state support of federal legislation like the ACA. Today, the Supreme Court of The United States began hearing arguments against the constitutionality of various provisions of the ACA. While only those Justices can determine the legality of the penalty for not having health insurance or the individual mandate to buy it, I have already seen the prices that my patients pay under the current system–patients who don’t seek preventive care because they can’t afford it; patients who regularly decide between buying a meal or a prescription;patients whose chronic diseases have either locked them into unhappy jobs just to keep health insurance benefits, or which have left them unemployed and uninsurable on the individual insurance market.
As a future healthcare professional, I believe my patients in Georgia deserve more. More access. More options. More support.
The ACA supports Georgians, so I support the ACA!
Sarah Candler is an MD/MPH Candidate for the class of 2013 at Emory University School of Medicine and Rollins School of Public Health. She has been a member the Board of Directors for HealthSTAT since early 2009, and currently serves as the President of the Board.