The Physician Politician 2020
By Hilary E. Fairbrother, MD, MPH, FACEP
When our forefathers got together to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776, 7 percent of the signees were practicing physicians. Only one– Benjamin Rush – had a medical degree, but those were different days. In today’s U.S. Congress, only 3 percent of members are physicians (18), all but one are male, 15 of them are Republicans and three are Democrats. We have more representation than we had in the '90s, but there is a lot of room to grow.
Maybe you are like me, but I think that in today’s divided political arena, I probably have more in common with another physician with opposing political viewpoints than someone in another field. So, I compiled this list. It is by no means comprehensive, but you should know if there is a physician running for office in your district or state. I think our country will be better represented by a diversity of thought and experience than our current status quo. For the first time ever, less than 50 percent of the House and Senate are made of lawyers. We certainly are living through historic times!
Note: The National Emergency Medicine Political Action Committee, NEMPAC, is currently vetting the full list of candidates, which includes more than this particular list. That process includes having candidates fill out comprehensive questionnaires and having them meet with local ACEP leaders. The next issue of NEMPAC’s email newsletter will include a more detailed breakdown of the candidates.
All members of the House are up for re-election every two years, so that means all 15 of the members of the House will be up for re-election in 2020. This includes the physicians in the House (in alphabetical order):
Ralph Abraham, MD, 5th District, Louisiana, Republican
Dr. Abraham has been in the House since 2014. He is trained in family practice. He was a practicing veterinarian for 10 years before going to medical school at Louisiana State University. Committees: Armed Services, Agriculture
Ami Bera, MD, 7th District, California, Democrat (https://bera.house.gov/)
Dr. Bera has been in the House since 2013. He is a general practice physician. He served as the associate dean of admissions at the U.C. Davis School of Medicine. Committees: Foreign Affairs, Science/Space/Technology
Larry Bucshon, MD, 8th District, Indiana, Republican
Dr. Bucshon has been in the House since 2010. He is trained in cardiothoracic surgery. He is married to another physician (anesthesiology). Committees: Energy & Commerce; Health Subcommittee, Energy Subcommittee, Consumer Protection & Commerce Subcommittee
Michael Burgess, MD, 26th District, Texas, Republican(https://burgess.house.gov/)
Dr. Burgess has been in the House since 2003. He is the most senior of the physicians serving in Congress. He is trained in obstetrics and gynecology. Committees: Energy & Commerce, Health Subcommittee, Consumer Protection & Commerce Subcommittee, Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee, Rules
Scott DesJarlais, MD, 4th District, Tennessee, Republican(https://desjarlais.house.gov/)
Dr. DesJarlais has been in the House since 2010. He is ranked as one of the most effective conservative leaders by Heritage. He is trained in family practice. Committees: Armed Services, Agriculture
Neal Dunn, MD, 2nd District, Florida, Republican (https://dunn.house.gov/)
Dr. Dunn has been in the House since 2017. He was the founding chairman of Summit Bank. He is trained in urology. Committees: Veterans Affairs, Agriculture
Mark Green, MD, 7th District, Tennessee, Republican(https://markgreen.house.gov/)
Dr. Green has been in the House since 2019. He is a special operations flight surgeon and was part of the team that captured Saddam Hussein. He is trained in emergency medicine. Committees: Homeland Security, Oversight & Reform
Andy Harris, MD, 1st District, Maryland, Republican(https://harris.house.gov/)
Dr. Harris has been in the House since 2011. He is the only Republican representing the state of Maryland in the House. He is trained in anesthesiology. Committees: Appropriations (Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittees)
John Joyce, MD, 13th District, Pennsylvania, Republican (https://johnjoyce.house.gov/)
Dr. Joyce has been in the House since 2019. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and was deployed in Virginia during both Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He is trained in internal medicine and dermatology. Committees: Homeland Security, Small Business
Roger Marshall, MD, 1st District, Kansas, Republican
Dr. Marshall has been in the House since 2016. He will be running for U.S. Senate in 2020. He is trained in obstetrics and gynecology. Committees: Agriculture, Science/Space/Technology
Greg Murphy, MD, 3rd District, North Carolina, Republican (https://gregmurphy.house.gov/)
Dr. Murphy has been in the House since 2019. He was former in the North Carolina General Assembly. He is trained in urology. Committees: Education & Labor, Science/Space/Technology
David “Phil” Roe, MD, 1st District, Tennessee, Republican
Dr. Roe has been in the House since 2009. He was the mayor of his town prior to being elected to Congress. Dr. Roe recently announced that he will not be seeking reelection. He is trained in obstetrics and gynecology. Committees: Education & Labor, Veterans’ Affairs
Raul Ruiz, MD, 36th District, California, Democrat (https://ruiz.house.gov/)
Dr. Ruiz has been in the House since 2012. He was the first Latino American to earn three graduate degrees at Harvard. He is trained in emergency medicine. Committees: Energy & Commerce Health subcommittee.
Kim Schrier, MD, 8th District, Washington, Democrat (https://schrier.house.gov/)
Dr. Schrier has been in the House since 2019 and is the only woman physician in Congress. She is trained in pediatrics. Committees: Agriculture, Education & Labor
There are also three sitting Senators who are physicians: John Barrasso (Wyoming); Bill Cassidy (Louisiana); and Rand Paul (Kentucky). They are all Republicans, and one will be up for re-election in 2020:
Bill Cassidy, Louisiana, Republican (https://www.cassidy.senate.gov/)
Dr. Cassidy has been in the senate since 2014. He is married to another physician. He is the first Republican to hold this seat since Reconstruction in 1863. He is trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology. Committees: Finance, Health/Education/Labor/Pensions, Energy & Natural Resources, Veteran Affairs
Other physicians running for office in 2020 include:
Pritesh Gandhi. MD, 10th District, Texas, Democrat
This district is current held by Michael McCaul (Republican, elected in 2004). Dr. Gandhi is trained in pediatrics.
Ronny Jackson, MD, 13th District, Texas, Republican (https://ronnyjacksonfortexas13.com)
Dr. Jackson will be running in the Republican primary for Mac Thornberry’s seat, who is retiring. Dr. Jackson is a rear Admiral in the Navy and was the White House physician for Presidents Trump, Obama, and W. Bush.
Hiral Tipirneni, MD, 6th District, Arizona, Democrat
She is running against four other democrats in the August primary. This district is currently held by David Schweikert (Republican, elected in 2011). Dr. Tipirneni is trained in emergency medicine.
Join me in getting to know some of these candidates. See if these physicians are the types of candidates you may want to support. By our professional participation in this process, we can change the legislative and regulatory environment in which we practice medicine and take care of patients.
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