Democratic Doctors Running As First-Time Congressional Candidates Push Medicare Expansion, Even Medicare-For-All

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter
  • At least nine doctors are running for Congress as Democrats against tough odds.
  • Twelve out of 14 of the physicians in Congress are Republicans.
  • Pillars of the medical community like the American Medical Association are becoming more open to platforms like single-payer health care.

At least nine doctors are running as first-time Democratic candidates for Congress and pushing health care policies like Medicare expansion and even Medicare-for-All.

Their platforms represent a trend in the medical establishment, which is growing more open to progressive concepts like single-payer health care.

If they were to win, the candidates would nearly double the number of physicians in Congress, which is 14. However, most of these Democratic candidates face “steep climbs” in primaries or against Republican incumbents, reported The Washington Post.

All but two of the physicians serving in Congress are Republicans. Their small ranks contrast with the high percentage of signers of the Declaration of Independence who were physicians — 10 percent, according to Politico.

But the low number of doctors in Congress means those lawmakers can have an outsized effect on health policy.

“Just by the virtue that there aren’t many doctors in Congress, your colleagues are going to come talk to you about complicated health care issues,” California Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, a physician, told Politico in June.

These candidates hope that their personal experiences with health care will give them an edge with voters, who consider health care a top priority in November’s elections, reported WaPo.

“Voters listen carefully to what physicians have to say about health policy,” Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of social medicine at the University of North Carolina, told WaPo. “In a district that’s not so one-sided red or blue, there’s no question that the white coat confers prestige.”

Medicare-for-All is a common platform for these first-time Democratic candidates, even though it has failed to win primaries in states including Texas, Iowa and New York, reported Politico.

For example, emergency room doctor Rob Davidson is running for Congress in Michigan on a Medicare-for-All platform. Washington congressional candidate Kim Schrier said she is “committed to moving us toward a Medicare for All system that guarantees affordable, high-quality care for every American.”

And internal medicine doctor Kyle Horton, running for Congress in North Carolina, said she will “champion quality, universal healthcare coverage for ALL Americans.” (RELATED: Ohio Reports Its Medicaid Expansion Helped 290,000 Enrollees Transition Off Because Of Jobs Or Raises)

“We need to move step-by-step towards universal coverage, so that we can join the rest of the developed nations. We should start with a Medicare buy-in option, which will result in lower costs and heightened levels of public health,” reads the health care webpage for Arizona congressional candidate and doctor Matt Heinz.

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