Trump and the GOP can try to repeal Obamacare, but they will not stop the 100 year old movement for the basic right to healthcare.
Two Harvard-affiliated doctors published in the Washington Post today their finding that 43,956 more people will die every year if the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare) is repealed. Their research study comes from a perspective, from their DNA so to speak of looking at the epidemiology of the health of the population that has evolved over almost a century at Harvard Medical School. It is a response to the republican majority Senate and House and President Trump’s threat to dismantle Obamacare. In the context of the history of the right to basic healthcare, the threat will be hard to fulfill.
The idea of Obamacare isn’t new. The idea dates back to Paul Dudley White a post-World War I British doctor at Mass General Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School.
I learned this from my mother, Ruth Patterson, a C-level executive at Harvard Teaching Hospital, Beth Isreal and member of the board of the American Heart association. A busy woman, raising a family and balancing a significant career, she brought her work to our dinner table discussion every night.
White was a British medical officer sent to Turkey immediately after WWI joining the fight against an epidemic where he learned practical epidemiology, or how to treat the health of an entire population.
After joining MGH shortly after his father’s death from a cardiac arrest, he became inspired to study heart disease. He applied the lens of practical epidemiology to cardiac disease and was the inspiration for the ongoing Framingham Heart Study founded in 1948. Like antibiotics and polio, White’s epidemiological approach to heart disease was another public health proof case inspiring the conversation of universal healthcare at Harvard Medical School and in other medical communities around the country.
Harvard Medical School trained Howard Hiatt MD, later Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health and Dr. Richard Nessen former President of Boston Brigham and Women’s Hospital and long-term proponent of healthcare as a basic right studied the British healthcare system and returned with Hiatt to create Harvard Community Health, the predecessor of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare.
Harvard Community Health founded in 1969 was the template for Romneycare, the Massachusetts public healthcare system signed into law by former GOP governor, former head of Bain Capital and presidential candidate Mitt Romney because he said the financials just made sense. Romneycare was the template for Obamacare.
Now we have the GOP majority in Washington threatening to dismantle Obamacare, more respectfully called the Affordable Healthcare Act. They may, or just weaken it. But only for a time. Movements have momentum. And the idea of universal healthcare is backed by and well understood throughout the medical community. It is not only the inspiration for Harvard Community Health but also other affordable large-scale similarly inspired healthcare systems such as Kaiser Permente.