Jennifer DeVoe for CNN

The story of patients who have no voice:  Jen DeVoe for CNN

Jennnifer DeVoe, MD, DPhilJen DeVoe, MD, DPhil, was asked by CNN Opinion to write an editorial on Obamacare. Her op-ed piece “Gutting Obamacare is playing with Lives” was posted at 11:10 a.m. EDT (8:10 a.m. PST) on Friday, July 25. Within two hours, there were more than 300 comments. As of 4:30 p.m. Monday, July 28, there were 2,110 comments. 

Dr. DeVoe has been on CNN’s expert list for several years, thanks to her research on access to health care, disparities in care and the impact of practice and policy interventions on vulnerable populations. She has been interviewed by CNN several times, primarily on issues related to the Affordable Care Act. 

At about 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 22, Dr. DeVoe received a call from CNN, asking if she would write an op-ed piece about the impact of Obamacare on the uninsured.

“I said, ‘Sure, when do you need it?’ And they said, by the end of the day, Eastern Standard Time – which was essentially in about three hours,” DeVoe said. So I said, ‘How about late tonight?’ and they said that was fine.” 

Research Associates Sonja Likumahuwa and Heather Angier pulled together information from the team’s research on patient experiences for Dr. DeVoe, who was in back-to-back meetings all day. Dr. DeVoe started the article after putting her kids to bed, and it was finished by about 11 p.m. CNN did some minor editing, which included some re-organization and sensationalizing of the headline. 

“In the editing process, I was bummed because they removed a patient story that I felt was really significant,” Dr. DeVoe said. “It was a story that I felt really illustrated my efforts to tell the stories of patients who often do not get their voices heard in policy discussions.” That patient story is as follows: 

Just last week, I was thanked by a patient who had obtained new health insurance through an ACA program, which enabled her to finally obtain full treatment for a chronic condition that had crippled her. Over the years, I have had the privilege of receiving gratitude from many patients. This time, it felt different. She thanked me for continuing to be her physician during the years that she was uninsured, and she also thanked me for my research investigating facilitators and barriers to accessing health care. We both acknowledged that as her physician, I was not able to help her obtain everything she needed while uninsured. However, she applauded my efforts as a physician-scientist working to discover new cures for the American epidemic of “uninsurance” and finding new treatments for our nation’s “inequitable access to care” disease.