June 09, 2020
On Friday, June 5, 2020, more than 50 members of the California Medical Association (CMA) Medical Student Section came together for a virtual legislative advocacy day.
Although CMA’s official Legislative Advocacy Day was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the medical students felt strongly that they still wanted to advocate their legislative leaders as champions for patients and the practice of medicine. The CMA Medical Student Section, in conjunction with the Student National Medical Association, organized more than 20 virtual meetings with assemblymembers, state senators and legislative staffers.
Among the issues the students advocated for was a continuation of telehealth payment parity for Medi-Cal beyond the public health emergency.
“Working with underserved populations in the past, I've seen patients struggle to get the health care they need due to obstacles such as lack of transportation, childcare and inflexible job hours,” said Greta Tamkus, a medical student from UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. “By advocating for telehealth coverage for Medi-Cal patients, I was able to speak on behalf of the countless patients struggling to receive health care. It was incredibly rewarding to relate these issues to Assemblymen and Senators and hear their responses and plans moving forward.”
The medical students also asked legislators to stand against police brutality.
“It was crucial for us to speak with our representatives about systemic racism as a public health crisis, which causes devastating physical and mental health consequences for Black lives,” said Dayna Isaacs, a medical student from the UC Davis School of Medicine. “As medical students, we asked for increased transparency and accountability of law enforcement actions and resources as well as for the cessation of law enforcement use of violent crowd-control weapons.”
The students also heeded CMA’s call to action and educated legislators about the critical need to protect access to care for Medi-Cal enrollees and urged them to reject the Governor’s repurposing of Prop. 56 tobacco tax revenue in the 2020-2021 state budget.
At a time when Californians are struggling financially, and Medi-Cal enrollment is expected to increase by more than 2 million patients, the students told lawmakers that they must protect vital services for those who need them most and continue to invest in health care in the midst of this pandemic.
The California Medical Association is urging all physicians to contact their Assemblymembers TODAY as they consider how to balance the budget.
“I am honored to have such inspiring colleagues and am proud to unify as a collective, powerful voice for the house of medicine,” said Isaacs. “We look forward to continuing this conversation.”