Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Muslim Physicians on the Front Line of National Health Care Battle

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

By Ibrahim Abdil-Mu'id Ramey

MASNET (July 29, 2009) – The titanic political struggle that continues today in the 110th U.S. Congress, emerging from the resounding challenge to the medical status quo in America made by President Barack Obama through his call (VIDEO) for health care reform in the United States, resonates across the nation as negotiations continue in an attempt to make a final push to rescue a deal before adjourning for the August recess. In the balance: America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (H.R. 3200), legislation proposed July 14, 2009, intended to provide quality health care for uninsured Americans, while slowing the rise of insurance premiums and health care costs which, if left unchecked, could cripple the national economy.

On the Republican side of the debate, most officials and operatives are claiming that the proposed reforms are "too costly and too big", and that they are the harbingers of that anathema to the U.S. system otherwise known as "socialized" health care.

Not to be left out of the debate, Muslim physicians and allied health care professionals have staked their own claim in this critical national discourse.

Earlier this month, the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) of Illinois, hosted an important briefing at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. on some of the perspectives that Muslim medical care providers have on the issue of health care reform.

IMANA Executive Director, Rasheed Ahmed, Ms. Karen Davenport, Director of Health Policy at the Center for American Progress, Dr. Khalid Quzi and Dr. Khalique Zahir, made presentations offering insight into the significant size and impact that Muslim medical professionals have within the national health care system.

Of the 800,000 medical doctors in America, for example, more than 60,000 are Muslim.

These Muslim physicians contribute in excess of $40 billion in health care services to the national economy.

Additionally, some 25 to 30 percent of physicians who received their medical degrees from foreign institutions are Muslim.

But more than the monetary value of Muslim generated health care services, there is the importance of Islamic values as they relate to health care policies in America.

IMANA, more than a mere professional association, is deeply committed to the idea that health care is a human right, and that the best available technology and most advanced care should be available to every person, regardless of their financial circumstances, medical insurance status, or ability to pay.

Individual IMANA physicians already contribute generous amounts of free medical care for indigent patients, including expensive and complicated surgeries for poor or uninsured patients.

Moreover, IMANA physicians provide services and staff numerous clinics throughout the United States, including the UMMAH clinic in Los Angeles, acclaimed by our very own U.S. Congress.

MAS Freedom, through its 12-Point 2008-2012 Legislative Agenda (Point III), has endorsed the movement for comprehensive national health care reform, including the need to provide medical insurance for the more than 47 million people in America who have no health insurance at all.

As the political debate about health care reform intensifies, and as the enormous quantity of health care proposals and counter-proposals are sifted through, one thing is for certain: Muslim professionals in the health care arena will remain true to the prophetic calling for compassion and mercy, not only for the fortunate Americans who can afford quality medical care, but for every human being in this nation.

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