In this month’s tumultuous midterm elections, some conservative-leaning physicians found a new way to have their voices heard: get elected to Congress.
Docs go to Washington
Reform law spurs physicians to run for office
Rep.-elect Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), a cardiac surgeon, said he had followed politics closely but had never sought public office. But Bucshon said he was motivated to run after the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a law he said is not in the best interests of doctors or patients.
“I’ve always thought that physicians were underrepresented in Congress and in government in general,” Bucshon said. “Politics affects physicians so much, and my feeling was that in order to make a real difference, we had to have medical people in the room when these big decisions were made.”
Bucshon said his priorities in Congress will include curtailing federal spending, fixing the sustainable growth rate for Medicare payments and repealing the health reform law.
And he’s not alone. Rep.-elect Dan Benishek (R.-Mich.), a retired general surgeon who won Rep. Bart Stupak’s seat, said physicians are well-suited to public office because they are accustomed to using problem-solving skills to address the needs of their patients.
Benishek said he made the decision to run for a seat in the house because of concerns about large-scale government spending, particularly the stimulus law. Those worries were compounded after the passage of health reform, said Benishek, who called the law “a disaster.”
Several other newly elected and re-elected member of Congress made health reform a rallying cry during their campaigns.
Incoming House GOP freshmen Joe Heck of Nevada, Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee and Andy Harris of Maryland, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Sen.-elect Rand Paul (R-Ky.), all of whom are physicians, campaigned hard against the provisions of the health reform law.
“The law takes power away from medical consumers, creates enormous bureaucracy and costs, and does nothing to promote quality and innovation,” said Rep.-elect Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.), who added that she will support liability reform and expansion of health savings-account programs. “The goal of the law is a worthy one. We do want to see everyone have access to healthcare, but we can do that by providing more choices and reducing costs.”
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