Erin Mershon of StatNews reports that, over the last almost 60 years, there have been 49 physicians who have become members of Congress. Of that group, only a few have been Democrats and only two have been women. None has been a Democrat and a woman. A grassroots organization is working to change history and put some female Democratic doctors in the House and Senate.
A group of 8,000 Democratic doctors who are women, led by Dr. Ramsey Ellis, is supporting eight female Democratic physician candidates for Congress this year. Dr. Ellis was a grassroots organizer for Hillary Clinton. Now, she is heading Physician Women for Democratic Principles in order to help ensure there are more women and more physicians governing our country and leading the public debate on health issues.
Imagine how Democratic physician women policymakers might have shaped and improved on Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act had they been our representatives in Congress when these major pieces of legislation were being debated. Only two Republican female physicians have ever served in Congress, Reps. Nan Hayworth of New York and Shelley Sekula-Gibbs of Texas. Today, there are 15 physicians in Congress, all are men and 13 of them Republicans.
With one third of the physicians in the US female, it seems reasonable that five physicians in Congress would be female. Similarly, about half of physicians are Democrats. If the physicians in Congress reflected the national pool of physicians, seven or eight of them would be Democrats, not just two of them.
Stat interviewed several Congressional candidates who are physicians to understand why they were running for office. Their primary reason: To solve the health care problems presented by the Affordable Care Act. Candidates who are members of Physician Women for Democratic Principles want to strengthen the ACA and Medicaid. Not surprisingly, Republican physician candidates want to repeal the ACA and slash Medicaid funding.
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