Tuesday, October 9, 2012

More Physicians Turning to Politics

Texas physicians, feeling increasing regulatory burdens and other threats to the practice of medicine and good patient care, are trading in the work they do in their exam rooms to address issues in state and national committee rooms.

“Physicians in their practices are seeing increasing and sometimes overwhelming amounts of red tape and bureaucracy relating to running their practice,” Darren Whitehurst, lobbyist for the Texas Medical Association (TMA) told KLBJ News. Ultimately, time spent cutting through the red tape leaves less time for doctors to take care of patients.

Currently five Texas physicians — and one spouse of a physician — hold public office at the state or national level to try to inject their first-hand medical expertise into health care policy discussions:
  • U.S. Rep. Michael C. Burgess, MD, (in office 2002-present);
  • Sen. Robert (“Bob”) Deuell, MD, (2003-present);
  • Rep. Susan King, TMA Alliance member, (2006-present);
  • Rep. Charles Schwertner, MD, (2011-present);
  • Rep. Mark Shelton, MD, (2008-present); and
  • Rep. John Zerwas, MD, (2006-present).
Three additional physicians are seeking their first term in the Texas House this year:
  • James G. (Greg) Bonnen, MD;
  • Donna Campbell, MD; and
  • J.D. Sheffield, DO.
Every session the state legislature and Congress make critical health care decisions that affect physicians and their patients. Doctors in the legislature bring their experience caring for patients to lawmaking to improve patient care and reduce barriers to the patient-physician relationship. Sometimes that means crossing party lines, reports KUT News.

Senator Deuell, a Republican, voted to allow unwed teenage mothers access to prescription contraception without parental permission and views government-funded contraceptives for low-income women as a way to decrease abortions, which he opposes. Many in his party reject the idea that government should pay for birth control, but Senator Deuell told KUT, “It’s a lesser of two undesirables. If you don’t do that, then you’re going to have more unwanted pregnancies.”

Read More:
  • Doctors joining political process to protect their practices from more red tape — KLBJ News
  • TMA: More Docs Than Ever in Texas Politics — KUT News

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