On Fri 10/12/18- Sun 10/14/18, Aspiring physicians Christian A. Palaguachi, QMA Physician Documentation Specialist (PDS) and Lucky Shikder, QMA Administrative Support and part-time PDS, advocated with the Latino Medical Student Association (https://lmsa.site-ym.com/ ) in Washington D.C. Seventy health professional students (87% medical students, 13% pre-medical students) representing 18 states, Puerto Rico, and DC met with over 30 congressional offices. Attendee students organized into groups to cover three various topics of concern:
- immigration: separation of families at the border
- immigration: proposed regulation level changes to the definition of public charge
- healthcare: Puerto Rico Medicaid and Medicare parity.
Each group met with 4-5 sets of congressional aides, often the students were their constituents. Christian’s group spoke on the behalf of immigrants that would be affected by a newly proposed expansion of the definition of public charge. The proposed change would penalize those immigrants that seek permanent residency for using health insurance, nutritional programs and housing assistance. Although the ruling has not yet been passed, this proposal has already instilled fear in thousands of immigrants who are already withdrawing themselves and their families from health insurance. Christian and Lucky are themselves immigrants or children of immigration and government assistance. “We can understand the fear ringing through America right now. We are working with LMSA because like LMSA, we believe one should not have to choose between their health insurance and their legal status”.
Lucky’s group spoke to the congressional aides to bring awareness on separation of families. Hundreds of families nationwide have been separated. Families and their children have been torn apart. Children have been put in to foster care and even adoption with the families having absolutely no control over this decision. Some families have yet to be reunited, however, even those who get their loved ones back, have been proven to have suffered mental and physical health issues after the ordeal.
Students urged congressional aides to submit their support for acts that benefit the immigrants of the United States and in opposition of acts that violate the basic rights of humanity. As immigrants or the children of immigrants, aspiring medical professionals Lucky and Christian felt it was necessary to speak out against this injustice. This experience has furthered instilled their belief that a physician is a natural advocate for their patient.
Christian also successfully submitted a national resolution to LMSA to support mentoring programs and pipeline programs (https://mailchi.mp/eb1312fc63e2/policy-summit-resolutions ). This resolution was passed with the hope of increasing the diversification of underrepresented minorities in college and medical school. They plan to collaborate with local medical schools in this effort.
The Northeast chapter of LMSA also submitted a resolution to support underrepresented minorities to obtain faculty positions in academic institutions. Christian and Lucky will both be working with medical students from Chicago to take an active part in this initiative. They thank LMSA and QMA for giving them the vision and courage to improve the world around us. They aspire to continue to serve the communities that have inspired them to become the best health professionals that they can be.
Lastly, they would like to encourage you all to raise your voices! Below are links for the policies discussed here as well as an informational link. Now it is time for you speak up, for or against, these emblematic American policies!
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