Urologist elected to House, while docs’ numbers in Congress drop
The Doctors' Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives will include a newly elected Florida urologist when the 115th Congress convenes Jan. 3, 2017. Neal Dunn, MD, secured 67% of the vote in Florida's 2nd District to become the first urologist in modern memory to serve in the federal legislature.
Overall, the number of physicians serving in Congress will decline, from 18 to 14. Candidates supported by UROPAC - Urology's Advocate on Capitol Hill were overwhelmingly successful, achieving a 96% win rate.
Urologist elected to the House
Earlier this year, Dr. Dunn secured the Republican nomination for a seat in the U.S. Congress representing Florida's 2nd Congressional District (Tallahassee, Panama City). Dr. Dunn founded Panama City Urology Center, Bay Regional Cancer Center, and the Advanced Urology Institute, so he knows firsthand the health care issues that affect the urologic community.
In a recent interview, Dr. Dunn looked forward to his participation in the Doctors Caucus, finding that "…many members of Congress have come to respect the input of the [physician members of the House and Senate] relating to health care decisions far more than in the past. The House Republicans have offered a very new, very different approach. It is reasonable, it is achievable, and it is far more affordable. The Doc Caucus will be deeply involved in promulgating this legislation in 2017."
Some physician candidates fare poorly
At least two dozen other physicians came up short in 2016 general election campaigns, most of whom challenged incumbents. Of note, urologist Anil Kumar, MD (D), was outpolled by Rep. David Trott (R-MI-11) in a race to represent a district outside of Detroit. Two other Michigan physicians fell to incumbents on Nov. 8. Libertarian Erwin Haas, MD, lost to Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI-2) and emergency room physician Howard Klausner, MD, was defeated by Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI-14). In Nevada, another emergency room doctor who currently serves in the U.S. House, Rep. Joe Heck, DO (R-NV-3), lost to Democrat Catherin Cortez Masto to assume the seat left vacant by retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D).
Two other incumbent physicians in the House of Representatives fell in a "jungle primary" for the Louisiana Senate seat vacated by Sen. David Vitter (R). Rep. Charles Boustany, MD (R-LA-3), narrowly lost the chance to compete in a Dec. 3, 2016 runoff for that seat, while Rep. John Fleming, MD (R-LA-4), was bested by at least six other candidates.
These three losses are particularly impactful, since, along with the retirements of Rep. Dan Benishek, MD (R-MI-1), and Rep. Jim McDermott, MD (D-WA-7), they diminish the number of physicians serving in Congress to the lowest point in nearly 10 years.