The number of close races in the last election cycle illustrates the importance of a strong political action committee (PAC) focused on the concerns of surgical patients and professionals. Every campaign contribution, fundraiser, or independent expenditure could represent the difference between a win and a loss. As the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Washington, DC, office reprioritizes its legislative efforts, prepares for the transition to a new presidential administration, and welcomes the 115th Congress, it is critical that the ACS Professional Association political action committee (ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC), strengthen relationships with returning members of Congress and educate new legislators about the issues that could affect the delivery of quality surgical care.
Supporting Fellows, physicians, and surgical champions
During the 2015–2016 election cycle, the ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC disbursed more than $1.2 million to more than 150 congressional candidates and incumbents, including two ACS Fellows and 14 other physicians members of Congress, several physician and dentist candidates, and congressional leadership PACs and political campaign committees. In line with congressional party ratios, 58 percent of the funds were given to Republicans and 42 percent to Democrats.
In addition, ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC staff and the federal legislative team attended or hosted more than 350 fundraisers, candidate meetings, and health care industry events to help leverage relationships with key physician champions in Congress.
New physician members of Congress
Although there are relatively few physician members of Congress, ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC plays a key role in engaging interested physician candidates around the country, particularly Fellows and surgeons. Two key races that SurgeonsPAC supported in the last election cycle include the following:
- Rep. Neal Dunn, MD, FACS (R-FL-02): To raise awareness about Dr. Dunn’s candidacy, the ACS Washington office organized a physician community briefing with more than 25 health professional groups in attendance. On November 8, Dr. Dunn, a urologist, won his election, capturing more than 67 percent of the vote.
- Rep. Roger Marshall, MD (R-KS-01): ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC partnered with other physician organizations to support Dr. Marshall, who unseated incumbent Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), in the Republican primary. Dr. Marshall, an obstetrician-gynecologist, went on to win the general election with 66 percent of the vote.
ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC candidate successes
- Dr. Dunn (R-FL-02)
- Drew Ferguson, DMD (R-GA-03)
- Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-08)
- Dr. Marshall (R-KS-01)
ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC-supported physician and dentist candidates
- Scott Angelle (R-LA-03, lost December 10 runoff)
- Dr. Dunn (R-FL-02)
- Dr. Ferguson (R-GA-03)
- Pam Galloway, MD, FACS (R-IN-03, lost May 3 Republican primary)
- Matt Heinz, MD (D-AZ-02, lost general election to incumbent Rep. Martha McSally)
- Dr. Marshall (R-KS-01)
- Dena Minning, MD, PhD (D-FL-09, lost August 30 Democratic primary)
Physicians in the 114th Congress supported by SurgeonsPAC
U.S. House of Representatives
- Rep. Dan Benishek, MD, FACS (R-MI-01), member, Committee on Veterans Affairs
- Rep. Ami Bera, MD (D-CA-07), liability reform champion
- Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX-26), member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce; founder, Congressional Health Caucus; and strong ally in the repeal of the sustainable growth rate formula
- Rep. Larry Bucshon, MD, FACS (R-IN-08), member, Committee on Energy and Commerce
- Rep. John Fleming, Jr., MD (R-LA-04), vice-chair, GOP Doctors Caucus
- Rep. Andy Harris, MD (R-MD-01), member, Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Appropriations
- Rep. Jim McDermott, MD (D-WA-07), member, Committee on the Budget and Committee on Ways and Means
- Rep. Tom Price, MD, FACS (R-GA-06), Chairman, Committee on the Budget, and member, Committee on Ways and Means, nominated in December by President-Elect Donald Trump to serve as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Rep. Phil Roe, MD (R-TN-01), member, Committee on Education and the Workforce and Committee on Veterans Affairs
- Rep. Raul Ruiz, MD (D-CA-36), member, Committee on Veterans Affairs
- Rep. Brad Wenstrup, MD (R-OH-02), member, Committee on Veterans Affairs
- Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), member, Committee on Appropriations; Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; and Committee on Veterans Affairs
- Rep. Charles Boustany, Jr., MD, FACS (R-LA), candidate for U.S. Senate, member of the House Committee on Ways and Means
- Rep. Joe Heck, Jr., DO (R-NV), candidate for U.S. Senate, member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce
In early October, the ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC launched independent expenditures in support of the elections of Congressman Bera and Dr. Heck’s Senate race, both staunch supporters of the physician community. Although Dr. Heck lost his race, strong ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC support assisted in re-electing Dr. Bera, a top Democratic liability champion on Capitol Hill. Dr. Bera’s victory is one example of how PACs can affect tight races for candidates who support the needs of surgeons and surgical patients.
For more information about ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC fundraising and disbursement activities, visit the SurgeonsPAC website.