Is there a doctor (or 30) in the House? More docs run for Congress

28 physicians hope to weigh in on the fate of the ACA as members of Congress

Topics: Health Policy, Market Trends, Strategy

September 19, 2012

This story originally appeared in the Sept. 19, 2012 issue of the Daily Briefing.

Twenty-eight physicians are running for Congress this year, in large part because that they hope to weigh in on the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and other major health care issues.

According to MedPage Today, 17 of the 20 current physician members of Congress are up for reelection, and an additional 11 physicians are seeking Congressional office for the first time. Specifically:

  • 26 physicians are running for House seats; and
  • Two physicians are running for Senate seats.

Less than 4% of the 535 current voting members of Congress are doctors, according to Syed Taj, an internist and Democrat running for Michigan's 11th Congressional District. "People who are passing laws for doctors are not doctors," he says.

Taj told MedPage Today that he would like to scrap Medicare's sustainable growth rate (SGR) reimbursement formula if elected.

Meanwhile, pediatrician Marisha Agana—who is running as a Republican in Ohio's 13th Congressional District—would like to repeal the entire ACA.

"It will absolutely lead to more regulatory policies that will hamper my ability to practice medicine the way I was trained to practice medicine, which is to do no harm to the patient," Agana told MedPage Today. She says the law's Independent Payment Advisory Board is one example of the law's interference in medicine.

Emergency medicine physician Raul Ruiz—a Democrat running for a House seat in California—says he opposes turning Medicare into the premium-support system proposed by GOP Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

"If we can reduce health care costs, then we will make Medicare more sustainable," Ruiz says. Of the 11 challengers, Ruiz is one of seven running as a Democrat. There are currently only two Democrat physicians in Congress, and one is a non-voting delegate.

"The voices of our physicians should be amplified and multiplied across the nation because you can't change the health care system without including the voices of our patients and providers," Ruiz says (Pittman, MedPage Today, 9/17).

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