Calling it a “code blue” medical emergency, more than 100 UC Davis medical students held a rally on the Sacramento campus Thursday night to speak about their fears for health care under the incoming president, Donald Trump.
Some of those fears were personal. African American and Muslim medical students described feeling intimidated and threatened since the election. Others were concerned about the potential harm to patients of Trump’s call to replace and repeal the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.
Organized over Thanksgiving break, the rally included about a dozen speakers, mostly medical students, who described their concerns as future doctors and as minorities, gays, immigrants and victims of sexual assault.
“It goes beyond politics. People’s health care protections are being directly impacted. Their health and safety are being threatened,” said Alejandra Beristain-Barajas, a first-year medical student from Watsonville and one of the event’s organizers.
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“Code blue” is a term used in hospitals to summon teams to treat patients suffering cardiac arrest.
Similar rallies were being organized at other medical schools, including University of California campuses in Irvine, Riverside and Los Angeles.
Second-year student Zakir Safdar said he often wears a UC Davis medical school hat or shirt in public, almost as protection against insults or worse from those who dislike his Muslim faith. He said there have been more news reports of incidents against Muslims since the election.
“There’s so much racism and bigotry (by people) against Muslims they’ve never met,” the Stockton resident said. He called on his fellow students to “let our actions and kindness speak louder than what you hear in the media.”
Dr. Stephen McCurdy, a UC Davis public health and preventive medicine professor, said he attended the rally to show solidarity with his students. In class, McCurdy said he tries not to be partisan but encourages discussion about the impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act.
“The ACA was a big deal … an important step in the right direction with plenty of steps yet to be taken (for) health care coverage,” the doctor said.
The Thursday rally took place amid dissension among some U.S. doctors’ groups over Trump’s nomination of Rep. Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon who opposes Obamacare, as secretary of health and human services.
In a statement Tuesday, the American Medical Association endorsed the Georgia congressman, calling him “a leader in the development of health policies to advance patient choice and market-based solutions,” as well as efforts to reduce “excessive regulatory burdens” that increase costs and diminish time spent with patients.
But that endorsement was condemned Thursday by the Clinician Action Network, an activist group of medical professionals. An online letter, signed by more than 4,000 doctors as of late Friday, criticized Price’s proposals for replacing Obamacare, privatizing Medicare and reducing funds for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
“Dr. Price’s proposed policies threaten to harm our most vulnerable patients and limit their access to health care,” reads the petition, which includes signatures from doctors in Auburn, Davis and Sacramento.