Browsing Scholarly Projects 2016 by Subjects
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The Characteristics of Physicians Elected and Serving in State Legislatures and the United States CongressPhysician participation in United States governance has a long and honorable history, dating to the nation’s inception. At a time of unprecedented change in health policy ‐ to control the growth of health care costs, to cover the uninsured through Affordable Care Act (ACA) provisions, to improve quality, to meet the demand for health services as the population grows and ages ‐ the need for physician leadership to guide policy interventions has never been greater. Yet physician‐legislator participation has declined. There is little data about physicians involved in shaping health policy in state or federal legislative branches. This study examines the characteristics of physician‐legislators at the federal and state levels, and compares them to U.S. physicians in general. Using rosters fixed on March 13, 2014, the study reviewed biographic and demographic information on physician‐legislators. The study’s four hypotheses were that physician‐legislators were more likely to be (1) men than women, (2) members of the Republican Party than the Democratic Party, (3) a non‐primary care physician than a primary care physician, and (4) elected in the states where they completed graduate medical education than where they attended college. Ninety‐five physician‐legislators were identified in 51 legislative bodies in 2014. Physician‐legislators were more likely to be male than female, to be Republican than Democrat, and to be practicing in a non‐primary care than in a primary care specialty. Physician‐legislators were less likely to be elected in the state where they completed graduate medical education training than where they attended college. No personal factor was identified that linked the majority of physician‐legislators to the state in which they were elected.