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November 16, 2018

The 17 doctors and nurses just elected to Congress (and why they matter)

Daily Briefing

    *Editor's note: This story was updated on Nov. 19, 2018.

    Among the officials elected to Congress in the 2018 midterms are more than a dozen doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals.

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    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.

    Here are the clinicians who will help shape health policy in the 116th Congress.

    Meet the three newly elected clinicians

    Among the newly elected medical professionals is Kim Schrier, a pediatrician. She unseated seven-term Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) last week to become the first Democratic representative of Washington state's 8th District and the only female doctor in the 116th Congress.

    Schrier, who also has Type 1 diabetes, said her experience as a pediatrician revealed "that our medical system is really [a] medical non-system." She decided to run for Congress after a GOP health care bill was introduced last year that sought to scale back protections for people with pre-existing conditions. "Because of my pre-existing condition, my insurance would have been prohibitively expensive [if the Affordable Care Act's protections were repealed]," Schrier said.

    Also newly elected to Congress are:

    • Lauren Underwood, a registered nurse and former adviser at HHS under former President Barack Obama's administration, who will be the first black woman to represent Illinois' 14th District; and
    • Jeff Van Drew, a dentist who will represent New Jersey's 2nd District.

    Re-elected clinicians

    There also are several medical professionals who will return to Congress next year. Below are the clinicians who were re-elected in the midterms:

    • Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.), a physician and veterinarian;
    • Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), a nurse;
    • Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), a physician and former chief medical officer for Sacramento county;
    • Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), an orthopedic surgeon;
    • Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), a cardiothoracic surgeon and former president of Ohio Valley HeartCare;
    • Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), an OB/GYN;
    • Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), an optometrist;
    • Rep. Neal Dunn (R- Fla.), a urologist and founder of Panama City Urology Center;
    • Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), the former chief psychiatric nurse at the Dallas VA hospital;
    • Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a general medicine physician;
    • Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), an OB/GYN and former chair of the board of Great Bend Regional Hospital;
    • Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), an ED physician;
    • Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), a dentist; and
    • Rep. Brad Wenstrup, (R-Ohio), a podiatrist and trauma surgeon.

    (Brueck/Kotecki, Business Insider, 11/7; Scott, et al., ABC News, 11/8; Dyrda, Becker's Hospital Review, 1/9/2017; New York Times, 11/13; American Nurse Association, The American Nurse, 4/17/2015; American Nursing Association, Nursing World)

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    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as the ACA, is the comprehensive health care reform bill passed by Congress in March, 2010. The law reshapes the way health care is delivered and financed by transitioning providers from a volume-based fee-for-service system toward value-based care.

    Download the ACA cheat sheet to get a quick overview of this significant U.S. health care legislation.

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