CIR leaders have teamed up with Doctors for America (DFA) to hold teach-ins on the Affordable Care Act in New York, New Jersey, and California. Doctors for America is a grassroots organization of 15,000 physicians in all 50 states that brings doctors together to influence health policy at the state and federal level. CIR spoke with Dr. Vivek Murthy, an internal medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and president and co-founder of Doctors for America, about why 2012 is a critical time for physicians to get active.
Why is 2012 such a pivotal year?
This is a critical year because the fate of health reform will be impacted by the outcome of the elections. Right now we have a situation where there are many politicians who are trying to tear down parts of the Affordable Care Act, but there also are other politicians who don’t want to talk about healthcare. Our goal is to get them to talk about health care, to stand behind implementation of the Affordable Care Act [and] to work on further measures that we’re going to need to make sure that we get to that ultimate goal—a system where everyone has access to quality and affordable care.
What are the goals of the One Million Campaign?
The One Million Campaign is our campaign to bring information about the Affordable Care Act to over one million people during 2012. We’re doing this because there’s a lot of confusion about health reform, what it is and what it isn’t, and physicians have a particular asset when it comes to their ability to communicate to the public. They have credibility, [and] they’re trusted by the public on issues related to health care. It’s our opportunity to get out there, to help people understand what we need to be fighting for. And it’s also our opportunity to find each other, to build a community of physician advocates who can make a real impact on the political process as well as on shaping policy.
Do you have any advice for physicians who are not involved in politics or advocacy on where they can begin?
There are challenges to physicians getting involved in advocacy. Physicians are busy. They’re not just taking care of patients 9 to 5; they’re often working well beyond those hours. Getting involved can start with something as simple as educating yourself about health reform law. Another easy way to get involved is to look for activities in your home organization – whether that’s a subspecialty society or an advocacy organization like Doctors for America or the Committee of Interns and Residents. Whether it’s something as small as signing a petition or something as large as organizing physicians in your community, every bit of advocacy from physicians helps. We’re going to need the collective power of thousands of physician voices if we’re going to see health reform through, and especially for the next stages of reform that go beyond the ACA.
For more information on Doctors For America, visit their website at http://www.drsforamerica.org/