ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – I’m Dr. Anna Lizama Clark, fighting on behalf of thousands of doctors and medical students who are standing up to save our patients’ health care, in every state across the country.
When the health of our patients is threatened, doctors stand up to underscore the devastating consequences if the Senate moves forward with hasty plans to repeal the healthcare of 32 million Americans–including the more than 1.7 million Floridians–who would lose their coverage through this latest Graham-Cassidy Bill.
Beyond the heated rhetoric and partisan politics are actual people whose lives and futures are at risk.
This battle is very personal to me. I can attest that my own parents are alive today because of Medicaid. They came to this country when they were 71 and 73 years old. Do you know that it is impossible to buy private health insurance in this country if you are older than 65? You don’t qualify for Medicare because you never worked in the US for 10 years to earn your 40 credits.
My parents, legal residents of the USA, could not get health insurance. I depleted my 401K and savings, paying cash for my mother’s knee replacement for bone on bone osteoarthritis. When she developed uterine cancer, she finally was able to apply for emergency Medicaid. Cancer, heart attack and stroke are the only three acceptable criteria to qualify for emergency Medicaid. My father then qualified as well as her spouse. In the last 10 years, my father has fought cancer four times. He is presently undergoing chemotherapy and my mother is being treated for blood clots to the lungs and legs. If their Medicaid HMO plans are discontinued, we could not hope to afford treatments. I, personally, have undergone bankruptcy due to medical expenses, and cannot afford to retire before age 70. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, I have breathed easier knowing other families wouldn’t have to go through what we have.
Today, we have more people insured in America than ever before. That means more people are getting treated for their cancers, opioid addiction, asthma, and diabetes. More people are getting preventive screenings and taking care of problems before they become serious. Today, millions of people have a more secure future, knowing their pre-existing conditions will not prevent insurance companies from selling them insurance and charging exorbitant premiums.
Patients across the country and this state are also benefiting from Medicaid coverage, which is a lifeline for millions of our country’s most vulnerable.
Members of Congress need to know that in every state and congressional district, they have constituents who are worried about losing their health insurance coverage.
Our nation’s health is not a red or blue issue. It is an American issue. The health of each individual adds to our collective strength.
We are demanding that members of the Senate have an open and transparent debate about the heath care of millions of Americans. This discussion needs to include the costs and the impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act, and must take place before any votes are taken to repeal it. This latest Graham-Cassidy healthcare proposal is unacceptable. Let’s not throw away the baby with the bath water. Our healthcare system is not perfect, but working together, Congress should be able to hammer out a bipartisan compromise to improve the lives of all Americans.
Doctors will stand side by side with our patients, every step of the way, to demand that Congress put patients over politics and safeguard the health of all our people.
Dr. Anna Lizama Clark is an obstetrician-gynecologist in Orlando, Florida and has been a member of Doctors for America for nearly ten years. She received her medical degree from University of Illinois College of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.