Physicians in the United States Congress

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Physicians in the United States Congress have been a small minority, but substantially overrepresent the number of practicing physicians in the United States.[1] The number of physicians serving and running for Congress has risen over the last 50 years from 5 in 1960, down to a nadir of 2 in 1990, to a maximum of 21 in 2013 and a small decrease to 15 in 2017. Possible explanations for this development have been increasing health care spending, increased health care reform debate in the United States, leading up to the Healthcare Reform Act.

In public opinion research by the American Medical Association (AMA) from 2013, voters rated physicians expertise in health care, "understanding of the problems facing our healthcare industry, including the bureaucratic red tape that is strangling health care providers and driving up the cost of health care for most Americans" as most convincing statement of a physician candidate for Congress. Physicians in Congress have received large campaign contributions from health care trade associations and from peers through physician associations such as the AMA.

History[edit]

In 1776, 11 percent of signers of the Declaration of Independence were physicians.[2] Likewise two (5 percent) of the 39 individuals crafting the US Constitution in 1787 were physicians.[3]

During the first 100 years of Congress (1789–1889) 252 (or 4.6 percent) of 5405 members were physicians.[4]

20th and 21 st century[edit]

The number of physicians serving and running for Congress has risen over the last 50 years from 5 in 1960, down to 3 in 1970 and a nadir of 2 in 1990 up to 10 (2000)[4] to a maximum of 21, including one female physician, in 2013,[5] as of 2015, there were 18, and as of 2017 15 physicians.[6] and a small decrease to 15 in 2017.

Physicians in the US Congress have been a small minority, but they substantially overrepresent the number of practicing physicians in the US.[7]

Possible explanations for the increase since the 1990´s have been increasing health care spending,[8] increased health care reform debate in the United States, leading up to the Healthcare Reform Act.[9]

Motivations[edit]

Tom Coburn said, "physicians have watched the profession undergo tremendous realignments that are shifting doctors' responsibilities away from patient care, changes they attribute to the government's inefficacy".[9] Jim McDermott was quoted as saying "They want to have their hands right there on the handle so they can pull it one way or another."[9] Physicians "balked at the idea of lawmakers with no medical experience making decisions that could upend the profession", per Andy Harris.[9]

Kelley Paul, wife of Rand Paul said in 2015 when he made his 2016 White House bid, "Being a physician gives Rand a unique perspective in Washington, simply because he's trained to diagnose a problem and find a solution." [10]

Party membership[edit]

In 2013, three quarters of physicians in Congress were Republican,[5] and 80% as of 2017.[6] As a possible reason Jim McDermott offered, "politically conservative physicians were more likely to chafe at the direction of changes in health care, with greater oversight by the government and a more regulated role for the private sector. It's a fundamental debate about what is in the public good."[9]

During the 2016 cycle the AMA political action committee spent $2 million with "direct contributions to 348 physician-friendly [Congressional] candidates (58% Republican and 46% Democratic)".[11]

Gender, geography and medical specialty[edit]

Of the 27 physicians in Congress since 2005, 93% have been men, which is in stark contrast to 70% male physicians in general, 63% were from the South (vs 35% of all Congressional members) and 26% were surgeons (vs 11% of all US physicians).[12]

Public opinion[edit]

In 2013, the AMA funded 3 focus groups of voters across the country and an online survey to research public opinion on physicians as Congressional candidates. The top scoring potential message for a physician was to link back to health care expertise "Because physicians work in health care on a daily basis, they bring a clear understanding of the problems facing our healthcare industry, including the bureaucratic red tape that is strangling health care providers and driving up the cost of health care for most Americans."[8]

Candidates, 2014[edit]

Senate candidates in 2014 included "an obstetrician in North Carolina, Milton R. Wolf, a radiologist in Kansas, a liver disease specialist in Louisiana, and Representatives Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey in Georgia, all of them Republicans. At least 26 more physicians were running for the House, some for re-election." per a New York Times article from March 2014.[9]

113th Congress (2013–2015)[edit]

From 2013 to 2015 there were 21 physicians in U.S.Congress, 20 of whom were male and 17 were members of the Republican party.

Legislature Name Party-State-District Year elected Medical specialty 2012 campaign money raised
House Dan Benishek (R-MI-01) 2010 General surgery, retired $2,255,260[13]
House Ami Bera (D-CA-07) 2012 General practice $1,373,106[14]
House Charles Boustany (R-LA-03) 2004 Cardiothoracic surgery, retired $4,879,644[15]
House Paul Broun (R-GA-10) 2007 General practice $1,410,625[16]
House Larry Bucshon (R-IN-08) 2010 Thoracic surgery $608,721[17]
House Michael C. Burgess (R-TX-26) 2010 OB/GYN $613,280[18]
House Bill Cassidy (R-LA-06) 2008 Gastroenterology $5,121,030[19]
House Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands-AL) 1996 Emergency Medicine $330,274[20]
House Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-04) 2010 Family Medicine $283,549[21]
House John Fleming (R-LA-04) 2008 Family Medicine $698,596[22]
House Phil Gingrey (R-GA-11) 2002 OB/GYN $1,530,373[23]
House Andrew P. Harris (R-MD-01) 2010 Anesthesiology $1,689,833 [24]
House Joe Heck (R-NV-03) 2010 Emergency Medicine $1,117,768[25]
House Jim McDermott (D-WA-07) 1988 Psychiatry $223,469[26]
House Tom Price (R-GA-06) 2004 Orthopedic Surgery $1,375,428[27]
House David "Phil" Roe (R-TN-01) 2008 OB/GYN $348,673 [28]
House Raul Ruiz (D-CA-36) 2008 Emergency Medicine $1,504,150[29]
Senate John Barrasso (R-WY) 2007 Orthopedic Surgery $8,081,603[30]
Senate Tom Coburn (R-OK) 2004 Family Medicine $2,100,328 †[31]
Senate Rand Paul (R-KY) 2010 Ophthalmology $9,942,744†[32]

† 2009/2012 cycle ††2013–2014 cycle

114th Congress (2015–2017)[edit]

From 2015 to 2017, there were 18 physicians in U.S. Congress. All were male and 15 were members of the Republican party.

Legislature Name Party-State-District Year elected Medical specialty 2014 campaign money raised
House Ralph Abraham (R-LA-05) 2014 Family Medicine, Veterinarian $824,819[33]
Senate John Barrasso (R-WY) 2007 Orthopedic Surgery $7,045,286 [34]
House Dan Benishek (R-MI-01) 2010 General surgery, retired $2,152,648[35]
House Ami Bera (D-CA-07) 2012 General practice $4,410,225[36]
House Charles Boustany (R-LA-03) 2004 Cardiothoracic surgery, retired $2,711,231[37]
House Larry Bucshon (R-IN-08) 2010 Thoracic surgery $608,721[17]
House Michael C. Burgess (R-TX-26) 2010 OB/GYN $613,280 [18]
Senate Bill Cassidy (R-LA) 2014 Gastroenterology $15,548,343[19]
House Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-04) 2010 Family Medicine $283,549 [21]
House John Fleming (R-LA-04) 2008 Family Medicine $698,596 [22]
House Andrew P. Harris (R-MD-01) 2010 Anesthesiology $1,422,625[38]
House Joe Heck (R-NV-03) 2010 Emergency Medicine $1,117,768[25]
House Jim McDermott (D-WA-07) 1988 Psychiatry $223,469 [26]
House Tom Price (R-GA-06) 2004 Orthopedic Surgery $2,784,268[39]
House David "Phil" Roe (R-TN-01) 2008 OB/GYN $933,431[40]
House Raul Ruiz (D-CA-36) 2012 Emergency Medicine $3,439,977[41]
Senate Rand Paul (R-KY) 2010 Ophthalmology $19,613,645[42]

† 2009/2014 cycle

115th Congress (2017–2019)[edit]

From 2017 to 2019 there are 15 physicians in U.S. Congress, all are male and 13 are members of the Republican party.[6]

Legislature Name Party-State-District Year elected Medical specialty 2016 campaign money raised
House Ralph Abraham (R-LA-05) 2014 Family Medicine, Veterinarian $577,493 [43]
Senate John Barrasso (R-WY) 2007 Orthopedic Surgery $6,677,705[44]
House Ami Bera (D-CA-07) 2012 General practice $4,128,996[45]
House Larry Bucshon (R-IN-08) 2010 Thoracic surgery $1,045,223[46]
House Michael C. Burgess (R-TX-26) 2010 OB/GYN $1,857,590[47]
Senate Bill Cassidy (R-LA) 2014 Gastroenterology $17,269,420[48]
House Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-04) 2010 Family Medicine $637,783[49]
House Neal Dunn (R-FL-02) 2016 Urology $$1,968,334[50]
House Andrew P. Harris (R-MD-01) 2010 Anesthesiology $1,402,664[51]
House Roger Marshall (politician) (R-KS-01) 2016 Obstetrician $$1,506,821[52]
House David "Phil" Roe (R-TN-01) 2008 OB/GYN $952,677[53]
House Raul Ruiz (D-CA-36) 2012 Emergency Medicine $3,225,291 [54]
House Mike Simpson (R-ID-2nd) 1999 Dental Medicine
Senate Rand Paul (R-KY) 2010 Ophthalmology $12,105,270[55]

Former Members of the 115th Congress[edit]

|- ! Legislature !!Name !! Party-State-District !!data-sort-type="number"|Year elected!!Medical specialty!! 2016 campaign money raised |-

Physicians in political positions outside Congress[edit]

Civilian:

Uniformed service, United States Armed Forces:

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Total Professionally Active Physicians". The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. September 2014. Retrieved September 30, 2014. 
  2. ^ Gifford GE (1976). Physician Signers of the Declaration of Independence. New York: Science History Publications. 
  3. ^ Jameson, MG (1983). "Physicians and American political leadership". JAMA. 249: 929–930. doi:10.1001/jama.249.7.929. 
  4. ^ a b Kraus, Chad K; Thomas A. Suarez (November 3, 2004). "Is There a Doctor in the House?... Or the Senate? Physicians in US Congress, 1960-2004". JAMA. 292 (17): 2125–2129. doi:10.1001/jama.292.17.2125. PMID 15523073. 
  5. ^ a b "Physicians of the 113th Congress". Patient Action network. American Medical Association. January 8, 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c Laura Dyrda (January 9, 2017). "Meet the 15 physician members of the 115th US Congress(". Becker's Healthcare. 
  7. ^ "Total Professionally Active Physicians". The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. September 2014. Retrieved September 30, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "Physicians as Candidates Program- Key findings of research conducted in April & May 2013 on behalf of AMPAC's Physicians as Candidates Research Program" (PowerPoint). AMPAC. AMA. September 2014. page 27. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Jeremy W. Peters (March 7, 2013). "Is There a Doctor in the House? Yes, 17. And 3 in the Senate". The New York Times. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  10. ^ Jordyn Phelps (April 7, 2015). "Rand Paul Makes 2016 White House Bid Official: 'We Have Come To Take Our Country Back'". ABC news. Retrieved April 15, 2015. 
  11. ^ "The 2016 Cycle AMPAC Election Report". n.d. Retrieved February 21, 2017. 
  12. ^ Goldenberg, MN (November 2015). "House Calls: Physicians in the US Congress, 2005-2015". Southern Medical Journal. 108 (11): 657–61. doi:10.14423/SMJ.0000000000000366. 
  13. ^ "Rep. Dan Benishek: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2011 - 2012". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  14. ^ "Rep. Ami Bera: Summary Data". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Rep. Charles Boustany: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2011 - 2012". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  16. ^ "Rep. Paul Broun: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2011 - 2012". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  17. ^ a b "Rep. Larry Bucshon: Summary Data". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  18. ^ a b "Rep.Michael Burgess: Summary Data". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  19. ^ a b "Rep.Bill Cassidy: Summary Data". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Rep. Donna Christian-Christensen: Campaign Cmte Fundraising, 2011 - 2012, no Leadership PAC money for 2014 cycle". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  21. ^ a b "Rep.Scott DesJarlais: Summary Data". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  22. ^ a b "Rep.John Fleming: Summary Data". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Rep.Phil Gingrey : Summary Data". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Rep.Andy Harris:Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2011 - 2012". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2012. 
  25. ^ a b "Rep.Joe Heck : Summary Data". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  26. ^ a b "Rep.Jim McDermott : Summary Data". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Rep. Tom Price: Summary Data". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Rep. Phil Roe: Summary Data". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Rep. Raul Ruiz: Summary Data". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  30. ^ "John A. Barrasso Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2007 - 2012". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  31. ^ "Sen Tom Coburn: Summary Data". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Sen Rand Paul: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2009 - 2012". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2012. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  33. ^ "Rep.Ralph Abraham : Summary Data 2014 Race: Louisiana District 05". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  34. ^ "John A. Barrasso Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2009 - 2014". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  35. ^ "Rep. Dan Benishek: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2013 - 2014". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  36. ^ "Rep. Ami Bera: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2013 - 2014". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  37. ^ "Rep. Charles Boustany: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2013 - 2014". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  38. ^ "Rep.Andy Harris: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2013 - 2014". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  39. ^ "Rep. Tom Price: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2013 - 2014". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  40. ^ "Rep. Phil Roe: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2013 - 2014". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  41. ^ "Rep. Raul Ruiz: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2013 - 2014". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  42. ^ "Sen Rand Paul: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2009 - 2014". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  43. ^ "Rep.Ralph Abraham : Summary Data 2015-2016". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  44. ^ "John A. Barrasso: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2011 - 2016". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  45. ^ "Rep. Ami Bera: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2015 - 2016". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  46. ^ "Rep. Larry Bucshon: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2015 - 2016". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  47. ^ "Rep.Michael Burgess: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2015 - 2016". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  48. ^ "Rep.Bill Cassidy: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2013 - 2016". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  49. ^ "Rep.Scott DesJarlais: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2015 - 2016". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  50. ^ "Neal Dunn Cycle Fundraising, 2015 - 2016". Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2016. 
  51. ^ "Rep.Andy Harris: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2015 - 2016". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  52. ^ "Roger Marshall Cycle Fundraising, 2015 - 2016". Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2016. 
  53. ^ "Rep. Phil Roe:Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2015 - 2016". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  54. ^ "Rep. Raul Ruiz: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2015 - 2016". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  55. ^ "Sen Rand Paul: Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC Fundraising, 2011 - 2016". The Center for Responsive Politics. December 31, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 

External links[edit]