Doctors say voting is critical to improving U.S. health care system
Tuesday, January 2, 2024
Voting is not only good for democracy - it's also good for your health, according to one of the nation's largest medical associations.
The American College of Physicians says voting empowers people to engage with their community, while ballot initiatives and elected officials determine just how well the health-care system works.
So, ACP President Dr. Omar Atiq said voters ultimately determine peoples' access to health-care services and physicians' ability to treat them.
"If there is more voter participation," said Atiq, "there will be better health-care policies and therefore, better health care."
Atiq said research shows states with fewer barriers to voting have better health outcomes than states with restrictive voting laws or gerrymandered maps.
Massachusetts ranks twelfth in the nation for ease of access to the ballot.
The ACP is encouraging all health-care professionals and medical students to engage patients in nonpartisan, health care-related conversations about voting, as a way to increase health equity.
Atiq said even posting voter registration information in patient waiting rooms is a good place to start.
"We are looking at talking to patients," said Atiq, "about the importance of their voice in making sure that the national resources are allocated to where we have optimal health for everyone."
Atiq said despite being one of the richest and most technically advanced nations in the world, the U.S. ranks lowest in life expectancy, for both men and women, among comparable countries.
He said physicians have a responsibility to help their patients when they need it, and talking about voting on issues that improve health care is part of that help.
Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
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