Patients must be at the center of the healthcare debate.
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As members of bio and health tech industries, as individuals dedicated to improving the lives of patients everywhere by increasing access to and choice of care, and as citizens who advocate on behalf of patients and their rights: We urge you to slow down the rate at which the current Senate healthcare bill is being drafted, and to open the debate to include more voices - in particular, the voices of patients to whom this legislation will be most impactful.
Healthcare represents 1/6th of the United States’ economy. More importantly, access to healthcare becomes essential to every American at some point in each of our lives. Whether we are talking about a pregnant woman in Tulsa, a young man in San Francisco, or a senior citizen in Montgomery, access to healthcare is a fundamental human necessity.
We therefore advocate a debating process that includes all relevant and impacted voices, from the voice of the patient to the voice of research institutions, and to every voice in between.
It concerns us that the Congress is moving to enact sweeping changes to the United States healthcare system without first engaging in open dialogue with all relevant parties. A vote on this bill was being rushed to be held before the July 4th Congressional recess, and will be rushed to a vote after the recess; we do not believe that this represents a fair nor rational action.
It concerns us that much of the drafting of the Senate bill happened behind closed doors. The Affordable Care Act was the result of 15 months of public hearings; any new healthcare legislation should be held to no less a standard.
And it especially dismays us that a coalition of more than 15 patient groups - including the American Heart Association, the March of Dimes, the American Lung Association, and the American Diabetes Association - was denied a meeting with Majority Leader McConnell. Further, it alarms us to see peaceful protesters - some in wheelchairs - forcibly removed by security before being heard by their representatives.
Any changes to our healthcare system must be informed at their core by strong patient voices; we do not believe favorable outcomes for a majority of Americans can come without first listening to the concerns and recommendations of the patient community.
We urge the Congress to welcome these diverse voices to the conversation.
We believe that all Americans stand in favor of more inclusive and affordable access to healthcare. We agree that there is much to improve in our current system.
As citizens and companies dedicated to serving patients, we urge Congress to ensure that any new legislation be the result of an open and carefully considered process of rigorous and productive debate, with a robust representation of patient voices at its core.
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