"In this country people don’t vote for, they vote against.” -- Will Rogers
Happy New Year! As a good Oklahoman, I always feel it is appropriate to frame any conversation about elections and politics with a quote from the most famous Oklahoman, Will Rogers. Rogers, who was a newspaper columnist and social commentator as well as a cowboy, vaudeville performer and actor, had a deep respect for our democracy and a healthy skepticism for those that were elected to serve it. He also viewed the responsibility of voting as one of the most important rights granted to any citizen.
This year, you will have an opportunity to exercise this right on at least two occasions -- during your state's primary elections or caucus and on Election Day.
On Nov. 8, we, as a country, will elect a new president and vice president, 435 U.S. Representatives, 34 U.S. Senators, and 12 governors. In addition, the occupants of hundreds of state and local elected positions will be determined.
Unless you live a life free of communication with the outside world, you are probably well aware that the 2016 presidential election process is already well underway. There are 13 Republicans and three Democrats seeking their parties’ nominations. The two nominees will be determined through a series of primary elections and caucuses that begin on Feb. 1 with the Iowa caucuses.
While Iowa has the distinction of being the first in the nation, to vote, the state has an up-and-down record when it comes to picking the ultimate nominee so don’t rush out and buy your bumper stickers on Feb. 2.
And don’t tell Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina, but there are really two key dates on the primary calendar that don't involve those early voting states -- March 1 and March 15. March 1 is Super Tuesday, a date when 13 states hold their primary elections, the largest number of states on any single day in the election cycle. This year Super Tuesday’s importance is amplified because it includes Texas, a state that will have tremendous influence over the Republican nomination process.
March 15 is probably the most significant day because it features elections in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio. It is difficult to be elected president if you do not win Florida and Ohio. Those swing states represent 29 and 18 electoral votes, respectively.
A complete listing of the primary schedule is below for your reference.
Once the two parties have completed the primary process, they will convene for the nominating conventions. The Republican National Convention will be held July 18-21 in Cleveland, followed by the Democratic National Convention July 25-28 in Philadelphia. At the conclusion of the conventions, the real fun starts with the general election.
The general election is a 100-day sprint to the finish line featuring four debates, hundreds of millions in campaign advertisements, and more political commentary than any person should be asked to endure.
The presidential debates are always important opportunities to measure the candidates against each other, so I would encourage you to watch. To assist you with your scheduling or DVR programming, the debates will be Sept. 26, Oct. 9, and Oct. 19. The vice presidential debate will be Oct. 4.
While the AAFP and FamMedPAC do not participate in presidential politics, we do participate in House and Senate races. Our involvement in the election and re-election of members of Congress is an important component of our multi-faceted advocacy program. Advocacy takes three forms: grassroots advocacy, professional lobbying, and political advocacy. Seldom do I ask things of you in this blog, but I do encourage you to support FamMedPAC. Your support allows family medicine to be better represented and therefore more impactful in our political advocacy efforts.
FamMedPac is nonpartisan in its support. We look at where candidates stand on issues that affect family medicine rather than at party affiliations. We work to elect -- and re-elect -- legislators who are willing to work with the Academy on those issues.
2016 Primary Schedule
Meaningful Use Hardship Extended
On Dec. 18, the House and Senate approved the “Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act” (S. 2425). This legislation included a provision granting CMS the authority to expedite applications for hardship exemptions from meaningful use stage 2 requirements for the 2015 calendar year.
Under current law, physicians were required to attest that they met the requirements for MU stage 2 for 90 consecutive days or face financial penalties. However, CMS failed to publish the modifications rule for stage until October 16, which failed to provide adequate time for all physicians to comply with the modified attestation requirement.
CMS has previously stated that it will grant hardship exemptions for 2015 if eligible providers are unable to attest due to the lateness of the rule. However, under current law, CMS can only grant such exemptions on a case-by-case basis. This case-by-case requirement would essentially prevent hundreds of physicians from gaining the hardship exemption.
A provision of S. 2425 grants CMS the authority to process requests for hardship exemptions to physicians through a more streamlined process, alleviating burdensome administrative issues for both providers and the agency. Physicians seeking a hardship exemption must apply prior to March 15. The AAFP will be working closely with CMS on the hardship process and will distribute information as soon as it is available.
Stephanie Quinn, AAFP Senior Vice President of Advocacy, Practice Advancement and Policy. Read author bio »