Every day brings more unbelievable news. I started out writing this entry focusing on what we might expect in the upcoming weeks regarding the Affordable Care Act following the Senate and House votes to begin repeal. Connecticut could see a 92% increase in uninsured, and is estimated to be the 10th worst affected state overall considering costs and loss of coverage. But recently even more fundamental attacks on our democracy have made the healthcare coverage story seem to pale in comparison. I am going to reiterate the disclaimer that appears on the “About” section of this blog: “The opinions expressed by this blog do not reflect official policy of the American College of Physicians and reflect the opinion of the author.” I need to repeat that clearly, because ACP maintains a nonpartisan stance and seeks to work with each administration and iteration of the legislature, regardless of how far their policies veer away from the College’s position (on the ACA, Climate Change, Firearm Violence, etc).
Yesterday, a presidential executive order banning resettlement of properly vetted Syrian refugees from entering the country, as well as banning entry for people from seven other nations, went into effect. As you have no doubt already heard, although the order invokes the 9/11 terrorist attacks as one basis for the order, it does not extend the sanctions to the countries from which the perpetrators of those attacks come: countries in which, conspicuously, Trump Family businesses have interests. So it just comes off as xenophobic and hypocritical, affecting innocent people and not accomplishing its stated goal, and flying in the face of what this country is about (at least idealistically; our history is littered with the mistreatment of almost every group excluding straight WASP men, but this still feels like a step backward).
There are worrisome threats to the First Amendment as the administration attempts to quash any journalistic criticism or questioning. At the same time, blatant mistruths are spouted by the official White House communications department (and POTUS tweets). Not to mention the Orwellian sounding “alternative facts” and the sad and pointless insistence on fraud impacting the popular vote. Authoritarianism seems to be rearing its ugly head.
Cabinet appointees also appear poised to spearhead an attack on science, education, public well-being and ethics. I’m really trying not to be an alarmist. I try to be understanding of views that don’t align with my admittedly liberal leanings. I’m trying to believe this isn’t one big business deal for our chief executive, and he really does care what happens to the country. Really, I am; but I’ll admit week one is making it look like such belief will be challenging to maintain.
In the meantime, I will take it as my sworn responsibility to defend patients, the education of medical students and residents, the practice of medicine, and the very integrity of science against any misdirected or ill-informed policies.