Saturday, February 1, 2014

Doctors in Congress
Reality is things as they are.

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), The Necessary Angel

“Everybody in the country knows what Republicans are against, —namely, ObamaCare.No, what we have to do is make sure Americans know what we're for. The whole idea is to empower patients, not bureaucracies, and to empower markets, not rely on market manipulation and mandates."

Joe Rago, “Tom Coburn: The Doctor Who Is Sick of Washington,” Wall Street Journal,  January  31, 2014

Doctors are not political angels but for the sick, they may be necessary angels.   Members of Congress are definitely not angels,   The favorability rating of Congress is now 12.4%, a notch above.  used car  salesmen. In the case of ObamaCare, at the moment a very unpopular federal program,  members of Congress might even be considered abused care salesmen.

Most national physician politicians are conservative Republicans.   Twenty physicians  now serve in Congress - 17  the House of Representatives.  Three are Senators.   Twenty four Republican physicians are running for the House in 2014. All in all, 50 physicians are running for national political office, relecting,I believe, their level of discontent and desire to make changes.

Why would physicians  run for Congress?  

Mostly because they think ObamaCare is wrong for America, wrong for patients, wrong for physicians, wrong for the health system.  They could, of course, be wrong.  And a batch of new Republican  House and Senate members from the right will not necessarily make it right, but they might just make things better, and running for office is the right thing to do.

Doctors are not political angels.  We have our own vested interests – protecting our incomes, protecting our specialties, protecting our patients. Still, nothing brings you closer to reality than being a physician and witnessing first hand the harmful (and beneficial) effects of health policies created in Washington.  

That is why I believe having more physicians in Congress is a good thing.  They know ObamaCare’s consequences did not necessary match its good intentions. They has seen what ObamaCare does and does not do for patients. They know, probably better than any single group or profession, what it means to be uninsured, to be sick,  to be unable to pay for care, to do what needs to be done to set things right.

Doctors are very much in the political news these days,  Senator Rand  Paul, an ophthalmologist, will likely be a Republican candidate for President.   Representative Tom Price (R-Georgia),  has authored an alternative bill to replace ObamaCare and is regular on Fox News..     Jim McDermott (D-Washington State), a psychiatrist, is a longtime liberal stalwart. Howard Dean, a Democrat,   once ran for Presiden and   is now  a leading spokesman for this party.   Donald Berwick,  pediatrician and former CMS administrator, a Democrat, is running for governor of Massachusetts.  Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) is retiring but not before he co-authored CARE, the Republican counterpart to PPACA, better known as ObamaCare. 

And so it goes.   Mostly, however, the action is on the Republican side of the aisle.  Twenty four Republican  physicians are running for the  House.  Another Republican physician, Bill Casidy,  is challenging Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu in  Louisiana.

 Enough editorializing.   Here is a current list of physicians now serving in the House and the Senate.

U.S. House of Representatives

 Dan Benishek, MD (R-MI-01), General Surgery
Ami Bera, MD (D-CA-07),  General Practice
Charles Boustany, MD (R-LA-03), Cardiothoracic Surgery
Paul Broun, MD (R-GA-10), Family Medicine
Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN-08), Thoracic Surgery
Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX-26) OB/GYN
Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA-06), Gastroenterology
Del. Donna Christensen, MD (D-VI-AL), Emergency Medicine
Scott DesJarlais, MD (R-TN-04 ), Family Medicine
John Fleming, MD (R-LA-04, )Family Medicine
 Phil Gingrey, MD (R-GA-11), OB/GYN
Andy Harris, MD (R-MD-01). Anesthesiology
Joe Heck, DO (R-NV-03), Emergency Medicine
Jim McDermott, MD (D-WA-07), Psychiatry
Tom Price, MD (R-GA-06), Orthopedic Surgery
David “Phil” Roe, MD (R-TN-01), OB/GYN.
Raul Ruiz, MD (D-CA-36), Emergency Medicine


John Barrasso, MD (R-WY), Orthopedic Surgery
Tom Coburn, MD (R-OK), Family Medicine
Rand Paul, MD (R-KY), Ophthalmology

Tweet:   Twenty physicians are now serving in the U.S.House or Senate, and 50 are engaged in the process of running for these offices, hoping to make a difference

No comments: