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Dateline: DC—ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC makes an impact on 2018 midterm elections

This month's column highlights the impact of the ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC and how it establishes important relationships to further ACS legislative priorities.

Katie Oehmen

December 4, 2018

Just as the American College of Surgeons (ACS) strives to represent all of surgery and focuses on an extensive list of priorities, the ACS Professional Association Political Action Committee (ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC) establishes relationships with several different policymakers to ensure surgical advocacy remains a top priority in Washington, DC, and across the country.

As the ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy (DAHP) reexamines its legislative priorities, prepares for the transition to a new U.S. House majority, and welcomes the 116th Congress, it is critical that SurgeonsPAC work to reinforce relationships with returning members of Congress and educate newly elected officials and their staffs on issues that could affect delivery of quality surgical care.

Similar to the 2016 election cycle, the number of close races in the 2018 midterm elections demonstrates the significance of a strong PAC, particularly one dedicated to the concerns of surgical patients and professionals. Every investment, or lack thereof, could represent the difference between a win and a loss.

While the DAHP reported many legislative successes during the 115th Congress, continued congressional engagement in the College’s advocacy and political activities is essential.

Sustained support for health professionals and surgical champions

Recognized among the top 15 PACs* representing health care professionals, as of November 7, the ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC disbursed over $850,000 to key surgical champions in Congress during the 2017–2018 election cycle. This includes support for several physician candidates and members of Congress, both majority and minority leadership, and members serving on key U.S. House and Senate committees of jurisdiction. In line with congressional party ratios, 55 percent of the funds were given to Republicans and 45 percent to Democrats. Of the monies contributed, SurgeonsPAC participated in more than 120 U.S. House and Senate races, resulting in a 90 percent election success rate.

To expand its political footprint both within and outside the beltway, ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC staff, the federal legislative team, and surgeon advocates participated in more than 250 fundraisers, candidate meetings, and health care industry events to maintain relationships with key surgical champions in Congress.

SurgeonsPAC also remains committed to educating and training physicians who are interested in running for public office. Partnering with other medical specialty organizations, SurgeonsPAC cohosted the 9th Annual Specialty Physician and Dentist Candidate Workshop November 30 – December 1 in Washington, DC. For more information, contact SurgeonsPAC staff at surgeonspac@facs.org or 202-672-1520.

New physician members of Congress

Although physicians in Congress remain in the minority (roughly 3 percent), the ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC plays a key role in engaging interested physician candidates around the country, particularly Fellows and surgeons. Two key races that SurgeonsPAC supported during this election cycle include the following:

  • John Joyce, MD, FAAD, FACP (R-PA-13): ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC partnered with other physician organizations, particularly the American Academy of Dermatology, to support Dr. Joyce in the race to succeed Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) in the Republican primary. Dr. Joyce, a former practicing dermatologist, went on to win the general election with 70 percent of the vote.
  • Kim Schrier, MD (D-WA-08): Mika Sinanan, MD, FACS, and Ronald V. Maier, MD, FACS, FRCSEd(Hon), FCSHK(Hon), 2018–2019 ACS President,   were instrumental in raising awareness around Dr. Schrier’s campaign, including educating the SurgeonsPAC Board about her candidacy. In turn, SurgeonsPAC supported Dr. Schrier’s general election, a seat she flipped for the first time in several decades, and won with more than 53 percent of the vote.

Health care professionals in the 115th Congress supported by SurgeonsPAC

U.S. House of Representatives

  • Rep. Brian Babin, DDS (R-TX), Member, GOP Doctors Caucus
  • Rep. Ami Bera, MD (D-CA), Co-Chair, Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus
  • Rep. Larry Bucshon, MD, FACS (R-IN), Member, GOP Doctors Caucus and Committee on Energy and Commerce, Health Subcommittee
  • Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX), Member, GOP Doctors Caucus and Chair, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Health Subcommittee
  • Buddy Carter, BSPharm (R-GA), Member, GOP Doctors Caucus and Committee on Energy and Commerce, Health Subcommittee
  • Neal Dunn, MD, FACS (R-FL), Member, GOP Doctors Caucus and Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
  • Drew Ferguson IV, DMD, PC (R-GA), Member, GOP Doctors Caucus and Budget Committee
  • Rep. Andy Harris, MD (R-MD), Co-Chair, GOP Doctors Caucus, and Member, Committee on Appropriations, Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee
  • Rep. Roger Marshall, MD (R-KS), Member, GOP Doctors Caucus
  • Rep. Phil Roe, MD (R-TN), Co-Chair, GOP Doctors Caucus, and Chair, Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
  • Rep. Raul Ruiz, MD, MPP, MPH (D-CA), Member, Committee on Energy and Commerce
  • Rep. Kurt Schrader, DVM (D-OR), Member, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Health Subcommittee
  • Rep. Brad Wenstrup, DPM (R-OH), Member, GOP Doctors Caucus and Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

U.S. Senate

  • Sen. John Barrasso, MD (R-WY), Chairman, Republican Policy Committee
  • Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), Member, Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Finance; and Veterans’ Affairs Committees

For more information about ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC fundraising and disbursement activities, visit the SurgeonsPAC website (login required using facs.org username and password).

Note

Contributions to ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Contributions are voluntary, and all members of ACSPA have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. Federal law prohibits ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC from accepting contributions from foreign nations. By law, if your contributions are made using a personal check or credit card, ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC may only use your contribution to support candidates in federal elections. All corporate contributions to ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC will be used for educational and administrative fees of ACSPA and other activities permissible under federal law. Federal law requires ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC to use its best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation, and the name of the employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year. ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC is a program of the ACSPA, which is exempt from federal income tax under section 501c (6) of the Internal Revenue Code.


*The Center for Responsive Politics. Opensecrets.org. PAC contributions to federal candidates. Available at: https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=H01. Accessed November 7, 2018.