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ACP renews call for physicians to vote, make health care an issue for presidential election year

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Physicians group leaders comment as part of annual gathering this month.

people voting election poll: © rawpixel.com - stock.adobe com

© rawpixel.com - stock.adobe com

Health care must become an election issue as the nation prepares for a presidential vote in November, said the leader of the American College of Physicians (ACP).

Voting is critical for doctors, patients and their communities, according to ACP, and College President Omar T. Atiq, MD, MACP, spoke about the issue as part of the Internal Medicine Meeting 2024, the annual scientific conference.

“Now more than ever, we need to keep health and health care in mind as an election issue,” Atiq said in a written statement. “As physicians, we need to think about the ways in which the government can affect our practice of medicine and our ability to care for our patients. We also need to help patients, to the extent we can with overcoming barriers to casting their vote.”

In late 2023, ACP published the position paper, “Ensuring Equitable Access to Participation in the Electoral Process: A Policy Brief From the American College of Physicians.” Researchers examined voting trends and found physicians had a 20-year average turnout of 57.4%, lower than the general population voter turnout of 63.4% for the same time.

ACP called for doctors to register to vote, cast their ballots, and help others to do so. ACP Board of Regents Chair Eileen Barrett cited the policy and said ACP has partnered with Vot-ER, a nonprofit that guides health care workers on assisting patients with voter registration.

“Our patients can face many barriers to accessing voting,” Barrett said. “Things like a lack of identification documents, frequent changes of address, English proficiency, transportation challenges, and limited polling hours and locations. All of these things can prevent someone from being able to cast their ballot. Health care facilities can play a vital role in educating the population in a nonpartisan manner about the importance of voting and registering community members to vote.”

This year, ACP is advocating for increasing payments for physicians, cutting administrative burdens, ensuring access to care, and protecting the physician-patient relationship, said Shari Erickson, ACP chief advocacy officer and senior vice president of governmental affairs and public policy.

“While election years can be quite challenging in terms of moving new legislation forward, we are optimistic that we can make some headway on our top priority issues over the coming months,” Erickson said.

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