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  • Historic Day!! #GetCovered

    Today is a historic day! People can now enroll in health care coverage in the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges! Coverage will begin on January 1, 2014 but you must sign up by December 15th. 

    No doubt you’ve been starting to hear about the new Health Insurance Marketplace, a key part of the health care law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA will expand coverage to millions of uninsured people through health insurance marketplaces that will be open for business on October 1st. But you probably still have questions. Like what is the Marketplace, and can you and your patients really get health insurance? Your patients will have questions too. And we’ve got answers for you and your patients.

    What is the Marketplace and where do I find it?

    Starting this fall, Health Insurance Marketplaces will help eligible patients buy new health insurance plans that fit their needs and their budgets. The Marketplace is kind of a one-stop shop for consumers to research, compare, and buy different plans. The marketplaces are not private insurance companies or government-run health plans. The Marketplace will be open from October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014. If you sign up by December 15, 2013 you will have coverage starting January 1, 2014.

    Marketplaces are state-by-state, so find yours here.

    Have more questions? Find more information here

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  • Today's Supreme Court Ruling

    Elizabeth Wiley, MD, JD, MPH
    AMSA National President

    What an historic day this is. For years to come we will remember this day as the first step toward achieving quality, affordable health care for all. As you know, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision on the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (also known as the “Affordable Care Act” or “ACA”). Today’s landmark decision will shape the environment in which we will practice medicine and determine how our patients receive care.


    The Supreme Court held that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, and this ruling will bring health care access to millions of Americans. At the same time, the Court ruled that states may opt out of the expansion of Medicaid. This decision is deeply concerning. If fully implemented, Medicaid expansion would provide coverage to 16 million more Americans by expanding eligibility to individuals up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, whether they are unemployed or among the so-called working poor. Clearly, as future physicians, we must continue to champion this issue and encourage states to opt in to Medicaid expansion.

    In the wake of this historic decision, I would like to encourage you to MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD on health care reform by submitting a letter to the editor of your local or campus paper. To make this easy, we have drafted some sample language that you may use, but please tailor this letter to express your perspective on health care reform.

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  • Video of Health Professional Students for Health Access for the 99%

    Yesterday, hundreds of AMSA members participated in the Health Professional Students for Health Access for the 99% rally in New York City.

    “It is time to refocus on the 99% and to develop equitable policies that support hard-working Americans,” says Danielle Salovich, AMSA National President. “AMSA has long fought for issues affecting the group of people that has now become known as the 99% - our neighbors, our colleagues, our patients, and our families - everyone who makes up the patchwork quilt of the United States. We are calling for access to health care, education, food, housing and other fundamental rights that are out of reach of so many.”

    “As future health professionals, we are dedicated to the service of the 99% and we rise against those who continue to promote societal inequities that make all of us sicker,” says Colin McCluney, AMSA Education and Advocacy Fellow. “We join our voices together and we will not be silenced.”

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  • Don't Let the Supercommittee Cut Residency Positions!

    As you have probably heard, the Congressional "Supercommittee," or the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, is scheduled to announce its recommendations to cut $1.5 trillion in federal spending over the next ten years on Wednesday, Nov. 23. The Supercommittee was created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 back in August to avert the debt ceiling crisis. Congress is scheduled to vote on these recommendations by Dec. 23. If Congress fails to adopt Supercommittee recommendations, there will be an automatic sequestration, or across-the-board cuts.

    The Supercommittee is rumored to be contemplating substantial (up to 60%) cuts to Medicare Graduate Medical Education (GME) funding which supports vast majority of residency programs in the U.S. As a result, it is critical that we, as physicians-in-training, make our voices heard on this issue. Please take a few seconds to email your members of Congress and urge them to protect Medicare GME:

    The American Medical Student Association strongly supports continued Medicare GME funding and condemns any effort to cut this funding. Massive cuts to Medicare GME will compromise patient access to care and, in some cases, may result in the closure of some residency programs. As the United States seeks to insure millions of previously uninsured Americans, it is critical that the federal government continue to invest in a robust health professional workforce to meet our nation's health care needs. Sustained GME funding is an essential element of this investment.  

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  • Building a movement for universal health care in Illinois

    By Kathy Wollner, Rush Medical College
    and Zach Bay, Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine
    Standard responses you get when you ask a medical student to participate in health policy advocacy:

    “The system is too complicated to try to change it.”
    “There’s nothing I can do to make the system better.”
    “I support change but I don’t think we can actually make a difference."
    “I support this but I am too busy.”

    These are the statements we hear time and again and even tell ourselves on occasion. Being both a medical student and a single-payer advocate is certainly not for the easily discouraged. In spite of these challenges, this month in Illinois twenty medical students teamed up to speak out against our inefficient, extremely expensive health care system that doesn’t even begin to take care of everyone. 

    On April 11, AMSA members from Northwestern, Rush, and Rosalind Franklin joined with colleagues from the Illinois Single Payer Coalition in support of the Illinois Universal Health Care Act (HB 311). Over the course of the day, we spoke with or distributed literature to every Representative and Senator in the state legislature. Though diverse in age, culture, race, gender and religion, we were unified by our common commitment to a single payer health care system that will cut out the for-profit middle-man between doctor and patient. Our white coats broadcast our stake in the health care system as health professionals in training.

    Aderonke Bambgose, AMSA president at Northwestern, gave an impassioned speech on the glaring faults of our current health care system:

    Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator for Physicians for a National Health Program, gave an assessment of the national fight for single-payer and a shout out to students’ commitment to health justice:

    Meeting with policy makers and hearing their different viewpoints on the issues was both challenging and inspiring. It was great to learn that although our voices alone seem weak, we can make our collective voice be heard by sharing our opinion with those elected to represent us. 

    While we know achieving universal health care in Illinois will be an uphill battle, we’re in it for the long haul. How could we not be? The health care system is the world we will take part daily as health professionals and, every more importantly, the reality of health care – or lack there of – for our future patients.

    Here’s some audio coverage of the press conference from CBS local news and additional videos from the press conference can be viewed here.

    If you’re in Chicago and you’d like to get involved in single-payer advocacy, please contact us (email! 

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  • In Support of Single Payer Legislation: Illinois

    Zach Bay and Andeonke Bambgose
    Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

    We need universal health care in this country and as the recent reform process has taught us, it is not likely to happen nationally without a successful state-based example. While Vermont is well on it is way to passing legislation to create a single-payer system, in Illinois we are working to rally support for the Illinois Universal Health Care Act (HR 311).

    Health care should be treated as a human right and not a commodity. Not only is single-payer the right thing to do, it is also the most cost-effective way to cover everyone, according to the recent Harvard study for the Vermont Legislature.

    Over the past few weeks, while recruiting students to take part in our upcoming lobby day, we’ve had many conversations about why this is something we should fight for. For us, the primary answer is that it is absurd that the system treats health care as a commodity. Unlike other commodities, you can die if you don’t have adequate health care. As many as 44,789 deaths per year in the United States are associated with lack of health insurance, more than the number of deaths due to kidney disease. It is unlike other commodities because you don’t die if you don’t have a nice car and you won’t be crippled for life if you don’t have the most expensive food to eat. You won’t have to walk around worrying about the risk of sudden death or losing the sensation in your feet and hands if you don’t have the most expensive clothes. Health care cannot be treated as a commodity because the consequences of not having health care are not frivolous; it is a life and death issue, an issue that significantly pertains to quality of life and your upward mobility in terms of finding a job and being able to take care of yourself and your family.

    In every other developed country, health care is treated as a human right. The World Health Organization (WHO) constitution reads, "the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being." It must be provided to everyone equally. That is why in every other developed country, there is a health coverage system provided by the state. We are 37 out of 191 countries according to the WHO’s ranking of health care system performance because we fail to do this.

    As a nation and as a state, we can do better. We expect better for our profession and for our patients.

    If you are in Illinois and are interested in participated in the April 11 lobby day, you can sign up here.

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  • In Support of Single Payer Legislation: Vermont

    Elizabeth Wiley, JD, MPH
    AMSA Vice President of Internal Affairs
    Last weekend, hundreds of health professions students from across the country gathered at the Vermont State House in Montpelier to rally in support of Vermont single payer legislation. The legislation, passed by the Vermont House last week and developed based on the work done by Dr. William Hsiao, would make the Green Mountain state the first in the nation to adopt single payer health care reform. In the crowd were many AMSA members and leaders.

    “Vermont could be the health care shot heard around the world.”
    --Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin

    The rally began with Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) offering inspiring words of encouragement to a standing room only crowd. Gov. Peter Shumlin then spoke to the potential for single payer passage. Several student leaders then took the stage to offer insight on why we support universal health care.

    As a medical student, it was heartening to see such an incredible number of schools represented – more than 120 institutions -- standing in solidarity with the citizens of Vermont in their effort to make history. From the University of Vermont School of Medicine to Harvard Medical School to University of New Mexico School of Medicine to Oregon Health & Sciences University, the message of the weekend was clear – if Vermont implements single payer, we will come.

    The rally was sponsored by Physicians for a National Health Program and the American Medical Student Association.

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  • Health is a Human Right

    by Ken Williams
    Graduate Special Student
    The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

    “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
    -Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25

    On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Every year on the anniversary of this date, I am reminded just how important it is that we continue our work towards improving the health of our nation and the world. The more than sixty thousand physicians-in-training that make up the membership of AMSA have committed ourselves to the task of ensuring a future where every person in this country has access to health care without regard to age, sex, gender, social class, nationality, ethnicity, sexual identity, or any other artificial barrier to the health and well-being to which every human being has a right.

    AMSA has dedicated itself to the strategic priority of ensuring quality, affordable, health care for all. We see our mission as being actively engaged in the social, moral and ethical obligations of the profession of medicine. With the work we did helping to pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), we have worked to move our nation one step closer to this goal. We still have many more miles to go, though.

    In the post-ACA world, we now must redouble our efforts to ensure that not only are coverage gaps reduced and that every citizen has access to quality, affordable, innovative health care, but also that the system itself is sustainable well into the future. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims, everyone has the right to health and medical care; our task is to ensure that we can provide it.

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