Con­ser­va­tive-lean­ing docs are headed to Congress

Modern Healthcare - - Contents - Mau­reen McKin­ney

In this month’s tu­mul­tuous midterm elec­tions, some con­ser­va­tive-lean­ing physi­cians found a new way to have their voices heard: get elected to Congress. 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 well­suited to pub­lic of­fice be­cause they are ac­cus­tomed to us­ing prob­lem­solv­ing 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.”

Hay­worth: The re­form law takes power away from con­sumers.

Ben­ishek: Physi­cians are well-suited to pub­lic of­fice.

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