The two physicians sworn in as new members of the House of Representatives, Drs. Ami Bera and Raul Ruiz, are both California Democrats, and physician groups said it's their backgrounds as primary-care and emergency physicians that could serve as factors in improving the country's healthcare policies.
The number of doctors in the House remains at 16 (17 if you count Dr. Donna Christensen, the nonvoting delegate representing the Virgin Islands), as Republicans Dr. Nan Hayworth, a New York ophthalmologist, did not win re-election, and Dr. Ron Paul, a Texas obstetrician and gynecologist, ran unsuccessfully for president and did not seek re-election to his House seat.
Bera is an internist from the Sacramento area and Ruiz is an emergency physician from Rancho Mirage in Southern California, and physician groups said they look forward to working with them both.
"It's our belief that having physicians as members of Congress is a benefit to the American public and helpful to the profession," said Dr. Jeffrey Cain, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Noting that the AAFP is a bipartisan organization, Cain said that having an internist such as Bera in Congress is good because "primary care is part of the solution to a dysfunctional healthcare system." Ruiz's background, Cain added, is a plus because he has seen how "the underserved" use hospital emergency departments for primary-care services.