A Physician Response to Occupy Wall Street: Occupy Health Care

Statement authored by Dr. Lisa Plymate with input from the NPA Policy Committee, 2/3/2012
We are physicians who are committed to reforming our health care system so that every person has access to affordable, high quality care. We cannot achieve this without fighting for economic and social justice. As doctors, we support many principles of the Occupy Wall Street movement. We cannot stand by; we must speak out.
We believe:

Health care is a human right. We are not just doctors for the 1% or for the 99%, but for everyone.
Economic and social inequalities are toxic to all Americans. These widening disparities directly affect our ability to perform our duties as doctors: to care for each patient as an individual and to improve our overall national health.
In these hard times, a rising number of people suffer from inadequate income, lack of affordable housing, a failing educational system, a polluted environment and lack of access to affordable health care, yet national policies continue to favor those who have the personal means to avoid these problems.
Too many aspects of our health care system have become corporate, and health care does not belong on Wall Street. Corporate decisions are based on shareholder profits and CEO salaries, not patient needs. A for-profit health care industry raises costs, lowers quality and reduces access. Our obligation as physicians is to work with our patients to help them receive the care they deserve.
A healthy society is built on a healthy democracy with fair treatment of all people. The rights and needs of people, not corporations, are central to the health of our democracy. The highest duty of government is to promote and protect the welfare of its people. This includes promoting conditions leading to better health, while ensuring that everyone has access to appropriate health services when needed.
Physicians must champion the ethical values of our profession by fighting for our patients’ rights. We believe we can—and must—change the health care system and our society to make them more just. As physicians and voters, we will fight for these principles in our communities and push our system to achieve what we know is right.
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