“There are large forces at work in American politics that are steering voters in one direction or the other, forces very different than those that drove voters a generation or two ago. “ —Charlie Cook, editor of The Cook Report
The Changing Political Environment
Political, social, and economic changes continue to have dramatic effects on the delivery of emergency medical care in the United States. The time when we could just “practice medicine” and ignore the politics is gone.
As chairman of the National Emergency Medicine Political Action Committee (NEMPAC), ACEP‘s political action committee, I am proud of the work that our Board has done to engage ACEP members in the political process. NEMPAC had one of the best fundraising years in history in 2017, despite the tumultuous political environment, raising nearly $1.25 million in contributions from ACEP members.
In my years as Chairman, I’ve seen the PAC grow in receipts and numbers of ACEP supporters. Our ACEP Board and NEMPAC Board continue to work hard to educate ACEP members about the importance of political and legislative advocacy. However, in this environment, it’s not easy.
Lately, I’ve heard a growing number of reasons from our members as to why they don’t or won’t get involved.
The choice is simple:
- Watch from the sidelines.
- Or stand up and make the collective voice of emergency medicine stronger to give us the opportunity to help shape legislation that is in the interests of our specialty and patients.
Why NEMPAC Should Matter to You
PACs have a significant role within the political discourse and continue to be the primary means by which organizations like ACEP can gain access to policy makers. When NEMPAC makes a contribution, it sends a strong, collective, and clear message from emergency physicians to a candidate.
As the PAC grows, that message resonates more definitively. NEMPAC is the only national PAC solely dedicated to representing our interests in the nation’s capital.
The PAC can help open political doors and provide access to policymakers. This access provides opportunities to express our well-reasoned viewpoints on the issues of the day (eg, physician payment reform, medical liability reform, solutions to the opioid crisis, protecting the prudent layperson standard, access to care, funding for research and graduate medical education, etc.). Relationships established through NEMPAC open a line of communication between the emergency medicine community and policymakers.
“I don’t like the candidates that NEMPAC supports. Actually, I don’t like politics, period.” —ACEP member
The NEMPAC Process in Today’s Political Climate
In an organization with more than 37,000 members, it’s virtually impossible that everyone would share the same political viewpoints. Please try to remember that politicians from both political parties and with vastly differing ideologies have been, and continue to be, supportive of issues that affect emergency medicine. NEMPAC must work with elected officials and political candidates to advance the interests of our specialty, regardless of personal preference or party affiliation.