As a practicing physician in Philadelphia over the past decade, I’ve seen too many families struggling to afford the basic health care they deserve. I’ve seen too many families forced to forgo checkups, screenings, and vital medication so they can put food on the table. And I’ve seen our health care system let down those who need it most.
That’s one of the reasons why, while practicing medicine and raising my kids, I decided to get a Masters Degree in Public Health - because I knew I wanted to make a difference OUTSIDE the exam room. I wanted to take action.
I traveled back and forth to Washington a lot during the health care debate, speaking out for reform as the President of the National Physicians Alliance. As I watched the debate unfold, here's what I learned: most people in Washington who talk about health care have never sat with a patient in need. And, as we saw during the health care debate, too many politicians are willing to cave in to pressure from special interests and stay quiet rather than standing up for what's right. It's time for that to change.
The Affordable Care Act
I worked hard for health care reform. I know the Affordable Care Act is not perfect: we certainly didn’t get everything we wanted in the law, and our work is nowhere near done. But it is a step in the right direction. Now we need to make sure people of all ages, incomes and backgrounds know the benefits of the law and know how to sign up for the new health insurance marketplace.
The Affordable Care Act is already benefiting Pennsylvanians. In 2012, approximately 150,000 Seniors saved an average of $700 on prescription medications. Health care price inflation is slowing down, and many uninsured Pennsylvanians will be able to purchase affordable health insurance through the new marketplace that opens October 1, 2013.
Republicans in the House of Representatives have wasted the country’s time, in the midst of an economic crisis, by voting 37 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Instead, Congress should be working to implement the law as smoothly and seamlessly as possible.
As a physician, it is infuriating to watch politicians in Washington mislead seniors when it comes to Medicare. In Congress, I will always fight to improve benefits for Pennsylvania’s 2.3 million Medicare beneficiaries. Republicans in Washington are bound and determined to destroy Medicare - and I will work my heart out to stop them. We must prevent the GOP from privatizing Medicare or turning it into a voucher program which would double what seniors pay for their care and put insurance companies in charge of deciding what tests and treatments Seniors can get.
At the same time, though, we can and must cut fraud and abuse in the Medicare program. Medicare fraud robs the system of some 60 billion dollars a year - money that should be extending the program’s solvency and providing patient care.
I’m angry that our Governor has turned down $43.3 billion from the federal government to expand Medicaid. He was handed a plan to provide approximately 700,000 Pennsylvanians with comprehensive health care and he turned it down. In Congress, I will work to protect Medicaid and will reject Republican attempts to privatize or block grant the Medicaid program.
For more information:
- Dr. Val Arkoosh discussing the Affordable Care Act on the Martha Stewart Show
- Dr. Val Arkoosh discussing ACA on UP With Chris Hayes
- Dr. Val Arkoosh Op-Ed: Take Money For Medicaid