The American College of Physicians is a group of physicians trained in internal medicine (internists). The group is the largest medical specialty organization in the U.S., providing primary care as well as medical subspecialty care. There are 487 American College of Physicians members practicing in Maine; the majority provide primary care. With our collective knowledge of both the medical system and the needs of our patients, we oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Because we provide direct patient care and most of our members practiced before the ACA took effect, we have countless anecdotes regarding individual patients who have benefited from the ACA.

Because we are scientists, however, we do not base our decisions solely on anecdotal evidence. Instead, we hold ourselves to the standard of peer-reviewed, scientific study. Three scientific articles recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrate benefits of the policy changes of the ACA.

First, Benjamin D. Sommers, et al., in 2012 analyzed data from Maine’s Medicaid expansion in the early 2000s, among other states, and showed that expanded Medicaid saved lives.

Second, Amy N. Finkelstein, et al., in 2013 demonstrated that Medicaid expansion improved recognition and treatment of both diabetes and depression. Finally, Daniel Polsky, et al., in 2015 showed that the Affordable Care Act improved patients’ access to primary care. All published, peer-reviewed studies that we have reviewed have shown overall health benefits from the ACA.

We believe that our society’s goal should be affordable, universal health care for all.

While the Affordable Care Act fell short of that goal – especially here in Maine without expansion of Medicaid – our collective experiences and the scientific literature argue that repeal of the ACA is the wrong policy for our patients. We believe that repeal of the ACA without a replacement that is scientifically demonstrated to be better than our current system is irresponsible.

R. Simmons Thomas, M.D.