From coast to coast, resident physicians have used CIR not just to be a voice for transformative change in the hospital, but for the broader changes in the American healthcare system. Their contributions throughout the year will have a huge impact on delivering on the promise of a just healthcare system that respects resident physicians, the safety-net hospitals we work in, and the working families we serve.
In California, CIR has joined the fight to defeat Proposition 46, a carelessly thrown together ballot initiative which would have dire unintended consequences for the healthcare safety net. If passed, Prop 46 would dramatically and rapidly raise the cap on medical malpractice insurance payments, as well as require physicians to submit to random drug testing, and force doctors to use a statewide prescription drug database before prescribing many medications. CIR has joined hundreds of groups including doctors, nurses, community health clinics, dentists, hospitals, family-planning organizations, education groups, local leaders, public safety officials, businesses, and other labor unions in opposing the measure, and is conducting educational events for residents and other healthcare providers to urge them to spread the word.
In New York and Florida, residents endorsed a number of candidates for legislative office. CIR’s endorsement process is both resident-driven and policy-heavy, requiring each candidate to be grilled through healthcare-focused questionnaires and in-person interviews with resident leaders. The delegates at Jackson Memorial Hospital gave their seal of approval to Daniella Levine Cave, a community activist who unseated an anti-union incumbent on the Miami Dade County Commission on August 26. CIR truly helped to make history, as this was only the third time an incumbent County Commissioner had ever lost re-election.
In New York, CIR members focused their efforts on the State Senate, where the narrowest majority of Senators had held back priority bills like the Women’s Equality Act, the Paid Family Leave Insurance Act, the state-level DREAM Act and campaign finance reform. CIR was an early supporter for State Senator Gustavo Rivera, ranking member of the Senate Health Committee, who had proven to be a vigorous advocate of the Healthy Bronx Initiative, CIR’s organizing drive at Beth Israel, and New York’s laws regulating resident work hours. After a careful, deliberative process, CIR delegates also voted to support the campaigns of 1199SEIU Political Coordinator Dell Smitherman and education activist Rubain Dorancy for State Senate races in Brooklyn, though both lost in the September primary. In the 40th State Senate District, which includes Westchester Medical Center, Justin Wagner earned the CIR endorsement in what could be the closest Senate race on November 4.
After a string of victories working with coalitions to pass Earned Sick Time legislation in New York City, Jersey City, Newark, East Orange, Passaic, Paterson, and Irvine, residents weighed in on ballot initiatives to provide workers with the means to earn paid time off on the job that could be used when they are sick themselves, or to care for a sick child or relative. CIR members in Massachusetts have been enthusiastic supporters of the Raise Up Massachusetts campaign in support of Question 4, establishing a statewide Earned Sick Time law, while residents in Oakland have embraced Lift Up Oakland, to both provide paid sick days and raise the city’s minimum wage to $12.25 an hour.
Finally, CIR endorsed Healthy Alameda County, in support of reauthorizing Measure A, which raised the County sales tax by one half cent and dedicated it to a wide range of health programs. Seventy five percent of the $100 million raised annually are required to go to Alameda County Medical Center, with the rest going to school-based health centers, a separate detox facility, public health and prevention programs, and other uses.