Yes, there are 16 actually, according to a fascinating new USA Today article reporting that 47 physicians are running for seats in the House and Senate this fall. All but six are Republicans, which is noteworthy, especially given that nearly all of the doctors currently in Congress are also from the Grand Old Party. Republican doctors in the House – well aware that they are uniquely qualified to articulate their party’s opposition to Obamacare – recently launched their own issue advocacy web site. Of course, Republican Senators Tom Coburn and John Barrasso sort of beat them to it. Both MDs, Coburn and Barrasso already have their own online YouTube series called the Senate Doctors Show, launched last summer when the health care reform debate was heating up.
So what is it about being a doctor that makes someone want to run for public office? Well, the new health reform law for one. Dr. Nan Hayworth, a Republican running to represent New York’s 19th district, says on her website, “to prescribe a massive and costly federal takeover of health care when the overwhelming majority of our citizens prefer to keep what they have now is, simply, bad medicine.” Will these words carry more weight come election day from a woman who’s tagline is “doctor.mother.businesswoman.congress.”? Or how about Dr. Larry Bucshon, running for Indiana’s 8th district against Democrat Brad Ellsworth, the incumbent who decided late in the game to support the reform bill?
I’ll be on the lookout this fall for races between vulnerable incumbent Democrats who voted in favor of health reform and MD challengers. In these races, it’s a safe bet that health care will be front and center.