More Doctors in the House - and Senate

Many think the healthcare debate would have turned out differently if there were greater physician representation in Congress; currently only 16 MDs hold office. This number will undoubtedly grow come November as 47 doctors are running for House and Senate seats this year.

According to some Washington pundits, the healthcare debate may have turned out differently if more doctor/lawmakers were able to have input. Physicians would have brought another viewpoint to the debate, they say, along with a pragmatic approach to solving problems. Currently, however, only 16 of the 535 members of the House and Senate are doctors, just 3% of the total.

That number will almost certainly be higher after the 2010 elections in November, as this time around 47 doctors are running for House and Senate seats. That’s up almost 57% from the 30 doctors who ran in the 2008 elections and more than double the 22 who ran in 2006.

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The candidates are predominantly Republican, but the number also includes six Democrats. An increase in the number of doctor in Congress could color future actions on debates on government health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, say political observers, as well as on health insurance and pharmaceutical company issues.

The current crop of doctor-candidates aren’t shy about letting the electorate know what they do for living, with most of them picturing their profession as being a plus in their prospective role as a Congressmen. Perhaps they’re right. According to a recent Gallup poll, 77% of Americans believe doctors would do “the right thing” on health care. In contrast, only 32% trust Republicans and just 49% expect President Obama to come up with the right solutions on health care reform.