Rob Davidson has more than 20 years’ experience as an emergency physician and is executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare and Affordable Care. He is a resident of Spring Lake.
The 60-year-old man came into my emergency room at 2 a.m., complaining of trouble breathing. He needed an inhaler he couldn’t afford. Even as he was strapped to an oxygen tank, he kept talking about how he needed to get back to his job as a long-haul trucker. “Maybe if I work extra,” he said, “I can pay for my medications.”
A woman had just gotten a new job when she walked into my emergency room. She needed some tests done. Instead, she haggled, trying to convince me that she didn’t need all those tests. Her deductibles were $13,000, nearly half the $30,000 salary at her new gig. She finally agreed to the tests, saying: “I’m so far in medical debt, what’s another few thousand dollars?”
As an ER physician, I see patients like these every day. They work hard. They play by the rules. Yet they’re struggling to get by because of prescription drugs and medical procedures that get more expensive every year. I see patients who worry about losing their healthcare because of cuts to Medicaid. I see patients who have so many chronic conditions when they walk through the doors that treating them requires an entire team of healthcare professionals.
These are just a few of the people who will be most affected by what happens in our nation’s healthcare debate. In Michigan, one out of every two people has a preexisting condition. Medical debt is the number one reason for personal bankruptcies in the United States.
We all need healthcare. However hard we work at staying healthy, however many gallons of celery juice we drink every morning and miles we run, virtually everyone from infants and pregnant moms to seniors and everyone in between is going to find themselves seeing a doctor at some point in their lives.
And, unfortunately, the U.S. healthcare system – essentially a necessity for all of us – is being rigged to favor for-profit drug and insurance corporations. In a nutshell, it just isn’t working for ordinary Americans.
Now, an organization of doctors and healthcare providers who see firsthand what patients must go through in hospitals, ERs and clinics across America want to lend our voices to the healthcare dialogue. The Committee to Protect Medicare and Affordable Care is mobilizing in Michigan and nationwide to drive the healthcare debate so patients always come first.
Our goal is simple: to ensure politicians keep Medicare strong and work toward more affordable healthcare.
We took an oath to do no harm. Yet increasingly today, doctors and healthcare professionals see harm inflicted on middle-class and working families when corporate greed trumps people’s wellbeing. These folks are struggling to afford their healthcare premiums, co-pays and life-saving prescription drugs. Many are worried that politicians will let insurance companies take their healthcare away because of a pre-existing condition.
People are spending twice as much on prescription drugs compared with the 1990s. Drug company profits increased from $534 billion to $775 billion between 2006 and 2015, according to the General Accounting Office. Meanwhile, drug corporations pay their CEOs tens of millions of dollars each year.
And health insurance costs in April spiked 10.7 percent compared with a year ago, the largest increase since at least April 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Every year, healthcare costs Americans an average of $10,000, the most expensive in the developed world, even as our health outcomes such as infant mortality and life expectancy are among the worst.
For-profit drug and insurance corporations are squeezing American families. They deserve leaders who will fix this.
We strongly believe the Trump Administration and its allies in Congress are not helping. In fact, the Trump Administration is trying to eliminate the federal law that protects people with preexisting conditions and expanded healthcare to tens of millions of once-uninsured Americans. On July 9, this fight begins in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the stakes are very high.
Americans demand politicians stand up to for-profit drug and insurance corporations. As doctors, we are ready to hold President Trump and politicians in Congress accountable when they allow corporations to jack up costs and deny people healthcare.
We believe every American deserves the freedom and security of quality healthcare they can afford.
No American should go bankrupt or lose their homes because they had to pay huge healthcare bills.
Nobody who needs a medication to survive should be splitting pills or skipping doses because they can’t afford to renew the prescription.
No family should have to beg on GoFundMe for care their insurance companies denied.
Healthcare affects all of us. And each of us has an opportunity to work together, roll up our sleeves, and ensure politicians put people first, not corporate profits.