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Monday Jul 03, 2017

FamMedPAC to Congress: What Have You Done for Us Lately?

In my travels to AAFP constituent chapter meetings around the country, one question members frequently ask me is, "How does FamMedPAC decide which political candidates to support?" It's a good question, and the answer isn't quite as simple as it used to be.

As, hopefully, all our members now know, FamMedPAC is the AAFP's federal political action committee and is the only PAC focused on family medicine. FamMedPAC makes contributions to candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate with the goal of electing -- and re-electing -- candidates who will work with the Academy on issues important to our specialty.

In the 2016 election cycle, FamMedPAC contributions topped more than $1 million for the first time. Those contributions were distributed in a nonpartisan way, supporting 56 Democrats and 44 Republicans. Thanks to your generous support, the PAC supported more first-time candidates than ever before.

Factors considered when deciding whether to support a specific candidate included the candidate's positions, policies and voting records as they relate to family medicine. The PAC also considered incumbent candidates' roles on committees that have the potential to affect health care legislation.

All those factors are still in play, but for the 2018 election cycle, we are taking an even closer look at who we support, being more strategic and asking, "What have you done for us lately?" This is an important pivot for the PAC as it matures, particularly in the current legislative environment.

When FamMedPAC was a fledgling program, our contributions raised awareness on Capitol Hill and got us a seat at the table. Now, we have one of the 10 largest health care PACs in the nation and our impact can be clearly felt.

Candidates who may have received a check in past election cycles but haven't received one to date in the current cycle will get the message that we want to see progress in areas that matter to family medicine. And, in fact, we're seeing that this is already happening. More and more, candidates seem to recognize that where they stand on key issues -- such as physician payment, health care coverage, administrative simplification, graduate medical education and more -- is likely to determine whether they receive our support.

Can FamMedPAC really make a difference? Consider this: In 2016, 89 percent of candidates supported by the PAC were elected (or re-elected).

The 2018 election cycle has the potential to have far-reaching effects on Congress. There will be 33 Senate seats up for grabs (23 Democrat incumbents, 8 Republicans and 2 Independents) along with all 435 House seats.  

Clearly, much is at stake. I give to the PAC because I believe it is important for our specialty. If you have not given to FamMedPAC in the past, I urge you to do so now. If you have donated in the past, I ask for your continued support.

Michael Munger, M.D., is president-elect of the AAFP.

Posted at 12:00PM Jul 03, 2017 by Michael Munger, M.D.

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