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Every day is patients’ day

A doctor examines a child with a stethoscope. (Adobe Stock)

In observance of National Doctors’ Week, Congressman Michael C. Burgess drafted an op-ed highlighting his experience as an OB/GYN and how it affects his policy decisions serving the people of the 26th District of Texas.

Time after time, doctors prove to be modern-day heroes. They constantly fight through the proverbial red tape to improve the lives of their patients; however, most of these successes go unnoticed. Having practiced medicine for nearly 30 years in North Texas, I understand the daily battles doctors face and came to Congress to cut through the red tape. 

I was born into a family of physicians. My grandfather was an OB/GYN, my father a surgeon, my brother is a pathologist, my sister is a nurse, and my nephews are doctors. I often heard the struggles my father and grandfather experienced practicing under the single-payer health care system in Canada. Their struggles eventually led my family to move to the United States, which is one reason I fight to maintain the cornerstone of our health care system — the doctor/patient relationship.  

While completing my residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital, I was introduced to the never-ending struggles of burdensome paperwork and battles with insurance companies. In my own practice, I developed personal, long-lasting relationships with my patients and fought to provide them with the best care. After the tragedy of 9/11, I felt called to do more for our country. I could no longer sit on the sidelines as the world was changed and our health care system was repeatedly put into jeopardy.  

During my time serving the 26th District of Texas, I have witnessed both good and bad health care legislation debated in the House and the Senate. One of the most notable is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare. To this day, I am working to reverse the damage this legislation has done to the doctor-patient relationship.

More than a dozen physicians serve in both chambers of Congress. I co-lead the Doctors Caucus, a group of physicians and health care professionals in Congress, to develop patient-centered health care policies.  

In an increasingly rare bipartisan moment in 2015, I was able to repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate Formula and help ensure that seniors are no longer denied the care they need because their doctors cannot afford the pay cut they are forced to take to treat them. That same year, I helped champion the 21st Century Cures Act. This groundbreaking legislation finally brought innovation and medicine together by cutting red tape at the Food and Drug Administration, incorporating personalized medicine, and investing in the future of science.    

I continued to use my voice in Congress to assist patients and doctors nationwide. In 2017, I sponsored and introduced H.R. 315, the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act. This bill was signed into law on Dec. 17, 2018, and was designed to solve the shortage of maternal care practitioners in rural areas. It allows more patients to access OB/GYNs by positioning doctors in key areas affected by physician staffing shortages.

This Congress, I introduced H.R. 977, the Patient Access to Higher Quality Health Care Act of 2023. This is a bipartisan bill designed to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s ban on new and expanded physician owned hospitals. This bill would remove the restrictions on doctors and hospitals that impede them from providing quality, affordable, and innovative care to their patients, on their own terms. I am also working to eliminate ‘red tape’ by streamlining the burdensome prior authorization process with my GOLD CARD Act legislation. Inspired by a Texas law, this legislation would exempt providers, who received approval for at least 90 percent of their requests in the last 12 months, from experiencing prior authorization delays for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. 

Lasting solutions for the American health care system will not come at the expense of the doctor-patient relationship. These solutions must be focused on how to allow a doctor to be a doctor once again. You see, while this week we celebrated Doctors Day, we should acknowledge that for a physician, every day is patients’ day.

Michael C. Burgess represents the 26th District of Texas.

Tags Affordable Care Act Health care

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