Sunday, December 1, 2013
Could More Doctors in the Senate Make A Difference?
My motivation for running for the Senate was not for the stature of being a Senator, but because I wanted to make a difference on issues I feel passionate about.
Herman Cain (born 1945), American businessman and politicians, who said of ObamaCare, “This dog won’t hunt."
We doctors know a hopeless case if – listen, there’s a hell of a good universe next door. Let’s go.
EE Cummings (1894-1962), One Times One. American poet
According in the December 1 issue of The Hill, a publication reporting on the U.S. Congress, 11 Republican doctors are running for the Senate in 2014.
Could their medical expertise make a difference" Could their experience and status be an asset amidst the Obama adminstration’s rocky rollout of Obamacare and the millions of health plan cancellations?
The short answer is "Yes." The Senate now has 55 Democrats and 45 Republicans. Three of the Republicans are doctors – Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, family physician and ob-gyn; John Barasso of Wyoming, an orthopedic surgeon; and Rand Paul of Kentucky, an ophthamologist. Paul is considered a possible presidential candidate. The Republicans need to take six seats. The odds of them doing so have improved since the rollout debacle.
The long answer for 2014 to 2016 is probably "No." President Obama would undoubtedly veto any vote to repeal Obamacare, his cherished signature domestic achievement that bears his name.
It's no secret doctors in general, and Republican doctors in particular, oppose ObamaCare. The reasons are many – lower reimbursements, burdensome regulations, loss of autonomy, low fees from Medicaid and health exchange plans, exclusion from narrower health plan networks, increasing federal control of decision-making.
Thus far, doctors and their organizations have been relatively impotent in changing ObamaCare policies. That may change as the doctor shortage grows more intense, and as more doctors refuse to care for Medicaid, Medicare, and health exchange plan patients.
Doctors are in a very unique position to look at the financing of healthcare,” Rep. Paul Broun, a family physician running for the GOP nomination for Georgia’s open Senate seat.We go into medicine for one reason, and one reason only: Because we care about people, we want the people who we serve to have a productive, happy, healthy life, That’s the kind of policymaker we should have in place in dealing with healthcare policy.”
Monica Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon running for Senate in Oregon against Sen. Jeff Merkley (D), said physicians’ problem-solving skills make them well suited for elected office.
“For doctors, instead of arguing about things, the whole goal is to find an answer,” she said. “We're trained to be logical thinkers, making our decisions based on evidence as opposed to ideologically, or based on emotion.”
Republican Annette Bosworth, an internist running for Senate in South Dakota, likened Congress to a team of doctors and nurses in an Intensive Care Unit, where communication among those caretakers is key to keeping a patient alive.
“The reason we are broken is the communication that should be happening on Capitol Hill isn’t. The country is in serious trouble because those leaders are stuck,” she said. “But what is the advanced skill of physicians? We’re master communicators. We’re always thinking, how can I navigate through this while still keeping my eye on the goal?”
Rep. Phil Gingrey (R), an OB-GYN running in Georgia’s open Senate race, said that doctors are looking to elected office because they’re worried about the consequences of the Affordable Care Act.
“A lot of doctors are so frightened by ObamaCare, and if it gets roots, and if it becomes eventually a single-payer system, that these doctors would no longer enjoy the practice of medicine. They don’t want to practice for the government, they want to practice for their patients."
Rep. Bill Cassidy, a doctor and the GOP establishment pick to challenge vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu (La.), uses his medical background to speak out against the law. But Democrats have managed to somewhat diffuse that advantage by pointing out Cassidy backed a law similar to ObamaCare during his time in the Louisiana state Senate.
The Republican doctors who win may grow to love the Senate. As Hubert Humphrey (1911-1978) said, “The Senate is a place filled with good will and good intentions, and if the road to hell is paved with them, it’s a pretty good detour.” It used to be anyway.
Tweet: 11 Republican doctors are running for U.S. Senate in 2014. If enough are elected. They could help GOP take Senate but not repeal ObamaCare.