Virginia Primary Care Physician Speaks Out For Health Care Reform

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    The following is a guest diary from Christopher Lillis, MD (Internal Medicine) of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Last week, Dr. Lillis – a champion of health care reform – was onstage with President Obama in the East Room. Now, in the closing days of the battle we’ve seen waged over the past year, Dr. Lillis has some thoughts he wanted to share with us. Thanks to him for doing so, and keep up the good fight!

    I am thrilled to be a guest blogger here at Blue Virginia (even more thrilled to be one of the millions who helped turn Virginia Blue)! I love my day job – as a primary care physician, I share in the lives of my patients, and derive great satisfaction in helping improve their lives and health.

    I had the privilege of being invited to stand with President Obama on March 3rd in the East Room of the White House as he began to close the deal on the passage of health reform. He was as inspiring as ever, reminding us why passing the bill at hand will improve the lives of Americans that need reform the most.

    Since that day, patients have been much more open in asking me why I support reform.  And while I am adamant about keeping politics out of my relationships with my patients, I am happy to provide some education about what is in the bill.

    For years, I have been fighting insurance companies who try to deny care to patients.  For years, I have been volunteering in free clinics, helping those who are denied care or who cannot afford it.  For years, I have been frustrated watching patients skip medical care due to skyrocketing costs.  This bill will begin to change that for 31 million Americans who will have the opportunity to have health insurance – no longer denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, and – through insurance exchanges and subsidies – will find coverage affordable.

    So I can tell my patients I have 31 million reasons to support this bill.  I became a physician because medicine is about healing.  Somewhere along the way, the health care delivery system went astray – now “medical loss ratios” and “recission” are part of the national dialogue.  How did we let this happen, in the richest nation on Earth?  I feel there is a moral imperative to extend coverage to all of our fellow Americans, so that their suffering can be alleviated.  This bill will begin to stop the greater than 44,000 pre-mature deaths that occur each year in our country due to a lack of health coverage.

    This bill will benefit Virginia greatly.  I live in Congressional District 1, belonging currently to Congressman Whittman – who I have met with a few times, only to be confounded by the slippery reasons he gives for voting against this reform.  In my district alone, the bill will improve coverage for 556,000 people.  It will give tax credits to purchase coverage to 138,000 families and 16,000 small businesses.  It will close the Medicare drug coverage “donut hole” for 104,000 people.  And it will help get coverage for 21,000 district 1 residents.  

    Tom Perriello deserves great praise for his “yes” vote in district 5 for reform, while Glenn Nye and Rick Boucher need to hear from you!   Check out your district at: http://energycommerce.house.go…

    I tell my patients I became a doctor to help people. This bill accomplishes exactly that.

    If not now, then when?

    • JobyTodd

      I called Congressman Whittman’s office this morning and asked if he was going to vote in favor of health care reform or in favor of the insurance industry. After the aide “hummed and hawed” an answer he eventually said, “He intends to vote against the bill.”  

    • martinlomasney

      he’d be a Republican.  His quest for “bi-partisanship” is a convenient excuse for his corporatist policy preferences.  Just as local officials use “Dillon’s Rule” to conveniently dismiss local proposals they philosophically oppose.

       

    • JobyTodd

      Agreed