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Doctor at Women’s March: “I marched to make sure my patients’ voices would be heard”

Marcella Alsan, MD, PhD, and Burak Alsan, MD, are a power couple here at Stanford Medicine.

Marcella is an assistant professor of medicine, a tropical disease physician and economist working on the relationship between health and socioeconomic disparities. I recently wrote about her research into how the legacy of the Tuskegee syphilis trials still causes mistrust in the medical system among African-American men today.

Burak is a pediatrician and internal medicine physician whose Twitter profile quotes Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

So when they told me they had participated in the Women’s March last Saturday, it didn’t surprise me. They are physicians, parents and concerned citizens.

What did surprise me is that Burak felt compelled to write about why he marched with his young daughter, Avaleen, on his shoulders. His essay was published yesterday by The Huffington Post, and I think it speaks for many physicians who are grappling with what’s to come from the new administration. He wrote:

… I walked to represent my patients and their families who in many cases are in danger of losing access to high quality healthcare that was ushered in by the Affordable Care Act. I think of the young men and women with chronic illness who could stay on their parent’s insurance, or the middle-aged small businessman who got his first colonoscopy and caught a pre-cancerous polyp. Without the ACA in place, these stories and lives could have ended up much differently. As a concerned physician, I ask every citizen not to be fooled by the twitter proclamations that everyone will still be covered; the future will likely include barriers to care that it will make it more difficult for our most vulnerable of patients. Or even worse drop them out of coverage and benefits all together. I marched to make sure my patients' voices would be heard.

Previously: When it comes to health care, what steps should the next president take? and Stanford Health Policy symposium to address future of health care in U.S. and abroad
Photo courtesy of Burak Alsan

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