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Local News

Doctors’ insight: Voting could improve U.S. healthcare

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Danielle Smith, Public News Service

A medical report shows voting is not only good for democracy, it is also good for your health.

As stated by the American College of Physicians, voting enables people in Pennsylvania and across the country to engage with their communities, while the ballot initiatives and elected officials they choose help determine the quality of the health care system.

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. Pennsylvania ranks in the middle among states, at 31st in the nation, for ease of access to the ballot.

As a means to increase health equity, the American College of Physicians is encouraging health care professionals and medical students to engage patients in nonpartisan discussions about voting. 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 emphasized.

Atiq noted despite being one of the richest and most technically advanced nations in the world, the U.S. ranks lowest in life expectancy, both for 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 to improve health care is part of it.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.