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November 5, 2020

Meet the 16 doctors, nurses, and other clinicians just elected to Congress

Daily Briefing

    More than a dozen doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals were among those who were elected to Congress on Tuesday.

    History suggests that clinicians may bring a distinctive perspective to health policy debates. Former Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), for instance, was a longtime nurse who founded the Congressional Nursing Caucus in 2003 and went on to advocate for legislation to address the national nursing shortage. 

    Resource page: What the 2020 elections mean for health care

    Here are the clinicians who will help shape health care policy in the 117th Congress.

    Meet the newly elected clinicians

    Voters in Tennessee and Texas elected new medical professionals to serve in Congress. Diana Harshbarger (R), a pharmacist who will represent Tennessee's 1st congressional district, and former White House physician Ronny Jackson (R). President Trump in 2018 nominated Jackson to serve as the secretary of Veterans Affairs, though Jackson ultimately withdrew his nomination. Jackson will represent Texas' 13th congressional district.

    Re-elected clinicians

    In addition, several health care professionals were re-elected to return to Congress next year. They include:

    • Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), a physician and former CMO for Sacramento County;
    • Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), the former chief psychiatric nurse at the Dallas VA hospital;

    • Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), a cardiothoracic surgeon and former president of Ohio Valley HeartCare;

    • Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), an OB/GYN;

    • Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), a pharmacist;

    • Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a general medicine physician;

    • Rep. Neal Dunn (R- Fla.), a urologist and founder of Panama City Urology Center;

    • Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), a dentist;

    • Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), an anesthesiologist;

    • Rep. Seth Moulton, founder of Eastern Healthcare Partners;

    • Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), an ED physician;

    • Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Wash.), a pediatrician;

    • Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), a dentist;

    • Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.), an RN and former adviser at HHS under former President Barack Obama's administration;

    • Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.), a dentist; and

    • Rep. Brad Wenstrup, (R-Ohio), a podiatrist and trauma surgeon.

    In addition, Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), an OB-GYN, will become a U.S. senator after defeating his Democratic opponent, physician Barbara Bollier. Both candidates had campaigned heavily on health care issues, including America's coronavirus epidemic, STAT News reports. According to STAT News, Bollier's campaign had focused on U.S. drug prices, Medicaid expansion, so-called "surprise" medical bills, and access to abortion, while Marshall during his campaign called for repealing the Affordable Care Act.

    Health care professional will no longer serve in Congress

    At least one health care professional who was serving in Congress will do so no longer, after losing her re-election bid. Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), who served as HHS secretary under former President Bill Clinton's administration, lost her seat to her Republican challenger, former television journalist Maria Elvira Salazar. Shalala had served in the House for just one term (Joseph, STAT News, 11/3; O'Brien, HealthLeaders Media, 11/4).

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