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News Brief

Jan. 7, 2024 |  By: Farah Siddiqi - Public News Service

Doctors: Voting would improve U.S. health care system


By Farah Siddiqi - Public News Service

Voting is not only good for democracy, it is also good for your health, according to one of the nation's largest medical associations.

The American College of Physicians said voting empowers people to engage with their community, while ballot initiatives and elected officials determine just how well the health care system works.

Dr. Omar Atiq, president of the American College of Physicians, said voters ultimately determine peoples' access to health care services and physicians' ability to treat them.

"If there is more voter participation, there will be better health care policies and therefore, better health care," Atiq contended.

Atiq pointed out research shows states with fewer barriers to voting have better health outcomes than states with restrictive voting laws or gerrymandered maps. Missouri ranks 41st among states in terms of access to the ballot.

The American College of Physicians 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 suggested posting voter registration information in patient waiting rooms is a good place to start.

"We are looking at talking to patients about the importance of their voice in making sure that the national resources are allocated to where we have optimal health for everyone," Atiq explained.

Atiq reported 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 added physicians have a responsibility to help their patients when they need it, and talking about voting on issues to improve health care is part of it.