/ /

  • linkedin
  • Increase Font
  • Sharebar

    The poor will always be with us, and they want and need healthcare

     

    Dr Brown is F. Bayard Carter Professor and Chair Emeritus, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Duke University, President-Elect of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and a past member of the Contemporary OB/GYN editorial board.

     

     

    Ms DiVenere is Officer, Government and Political Affairs, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

     

    Recent statements by US policy makers show a shallow understanding of the issues facing low-income individuals in America. One freshman congressman, an obstetrician, said “Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us’ … There is a group of people that just don’t want healthcare and aren’t going to take care of themselves”1 as a rationale for repeal and replacement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”). Another more senior member of Congress said, “Americans have choices, and they’ve got to make a choice. So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and … spend[ing] hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own healthcare.”2

    These statements are very disturbing in general but particularly when coming from a physician who has taken the Hippocratic Oath. They suggest that the poor and most vulnerable children and adults in this country deserve neither healthcare nor coverage for preventative health services. 

    Perhaps both these legislators and many of their colleagues believe that an individual’s current medical condition is a referendum on being poor.

    ACA and Medicaid: lifelines for the poor

    It’s worth noting, and too many people don’t remember, that before the ACA, nearly one-third of pregnant women had no health insurance, and 20% of women of childbearing age (15–44 years) were uninsured.3,4

    Uninsured women with breast cancer were up to 50% more likely to die from the disease, and faced a 60% greater risk of late-stage cervical cancer diagnosis.5,6

    The ACA put in place landmark protections for women’s health, including maternity coverage for all women in all plans, mandatory no-cost coverage of evidence-based preventive services—including all FDA-approved contraceptives—and important insurance protections. 

    Unfortunately, too many state and federal politicians are insensitive to the fact that Medicaid is a lifeline for the many of our elderly in nursing homes, the disabled, and the mentally ill. It’s a lifeline too for millions of low-income individuals, including the working poor and their families. The truth is that Medicaid is a US success story, improving the lives and health of those covered, especially women and children, and proving that indeed, low-income individuals do want healthcare. The Health Insurance Association of America describes Medicaid as a “government insurance program for persons of all ages whose income and resources are insufficient to pay for health care.” Medicaid is the largest source of funding for medical and health-related services for people with low income in the United States. All states have participated in Medicaid since 1982 for individuals. 

    NEXT: Dangers of stereotyping >>

    Haywood L. Brown, MD
    Dr. Brown is the F. Bayard Carter Professor and Chair, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, ...
    Lucia DiVenere, MA
    Ms DiVenere is Officer, Government and Political Affairs, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

    3 Comments

    You must be signed in to leave a comment. Registering is fast and free!

    All comments must follow the ModernMedicine Network community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated. ModernMedicine reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part,in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

    • Anonymous
      The poor have had health care via Medicaid. The middle class though have lost health care compliments of Obamacare. High premiums and higher deductibles have taken away health care from those that are in the middle class without insurance from their jobs. Lucky if even one plan is available and no physician takes it. As far as abortion restrictions, I believe that women should have a choice but using the logic that states save money by aborting fetuses (penny wise and pound foolish the article says) is a poor response. If we want to really save money we could also force sterilization of individuals or even more savings by not providing any health care and promoting an early demise. The problem with healthcare is not just the poor, they have healthcare and we pay for it. The problem is that the middle class has lost their health care.
    • Anonymous
      The poor have had health care via Medicaid. The middle class though have lost health care compliments of Obamacare. High premiums and higher deductibles have taken away health care from those that are in the middle class without insurance from their jobs. Lucky if even one plan is available and no physician takes it. As far as abortion restrictions, I believe that women should have a choice but using the logic that states save money by aborting fetuses (penny wise and pound foolish the article says) is a poor response. If we want to really save money we could also force sterilization of individuals or even more savings by not providing any health care and promoting an early demise. The problem with healthcare is not just the poor, they have healthcare and we pay for it. The problem is that the middle class has lost their health care.
    • Anonymous
      duplicate

    Poll

    Latest Tweets Follow