WASHINGTON – More than 300 physicians,nurses and medical students marched to Capitol Hill on Monday to praise the health care reform bill passed by the House on Sunday.
The $940 billion bill passed 219-212,and President Barack Obama signed it into law Tuesday.
Organized by Doctors for America,a grass roots organization that works with medical professions for health reform,the march included members of 19 health-care provider groups from across the country.
The group congratulated the House for passing the Senate-approved bill and separate revisions,and urged the Senate to pass the revisions. The bill will expand Medicaid to cover about half of those currently uninsured and ensure the other half receive private insurance.
Gary Greenberg,medical director of Open Door Clinic,a free clinic in Raleigh,N.C.,braved the rain and chill to show his support.
Josh Kiss,University of Pennsylvania medical student,said giving more Americans access to medical care is the bill's key component. He volunteers at a clinic where patients don't have access to the preventive care that could save them money. He said Monday's advocacy reflected some of his current course work.
“It's about taking care of everyone,not just your patients,but making sure that social justice and access to health care are available to all,” he said. “It's our responsibility.”
Frank Proscia,executive director of the Service Employees International Union Doctors Council,said he sees increasing numbers of uninsured patients at Bellevue Hospital,part of the New York City public hospital system. He said he hopes this legislation will end that.
“We're overflowing with patients because people don't have health-care coverage,” he said. “So I hope that more people get it,and I'm hoping they have access to it. I'm hoping that they have insurance for it,and I'm hoping there's enough doctors out there. I want to see our government address all those issues.”
Doctors for America President Vivek Murthy spoke at a press conferences in the Senate Hart Office Building after the march. He said that,while doctors advocate for patients' procedures and medication on the phone with pharmaceutical and insurance companies,the march was about overall change.
“All across this country health care professionals can come together to say this time has to be different for our health care system,the scale on which this has been done this time around has been unprecedented in American history” he said.