Dr. Heck’s congressional priorities are simple: create jobs and revamp health care reform legislation. “We need to enact meaningful legislation that will actually allow the private sector to create jobs,” he said.
Explore This IssueACEP News: Vol 30 – No 01 – January 2011
As for health care reform legislation, “I think it fundamentally changes the way we provide health care in our country – and not necessarily for the better,” Dr. Heck said. “Certainly, there are things in the bill that have merit and should be preserved or tweaked to make them more effective, but I do believe there’s a better way to provide increased access to quality health care for more Americans.”
Dr. Heck and his congressional peers have a long road ahead, but for now, Dr. Heck would like to extend his thanks to those who helped pave the way for his election: namely NEMPAC, the political action committee of the American College of Emergency Physicians. NEMPAC solicits and accepts voluntary personal contributions from ACEP members that are used to fund the campaigns of candidates running for federal office.
“NEMPAC was a direct campaign contributor and helped mobilize individual emergency medicine physicians around the country to become involved in the campaign through contributions,” Dr. Heck said.
“I have no doubt that these actions on my behalf were critically important in helping to push us over the edge to victory on Nov. 2,” Dr. Heck continued. “And I’d like to add that Jeanne Slade, ACEP’s director of NEMPAC and grassroots advocacy, and her government affairs staff are by far one of the best staffs I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.”
Dr. Heck does have some advice for fellow emergency physicians who feel the pull of political aspirations but are hesitant to enter such a public arena. “Don’t be intimidated,” he said, noting a personal observation that physician involvement tends to be somewhat cyclical. When the issue at hand affects them, they’ll become involved, becoming complacent once that issue is addressed.
“My take-home point is that we’ve got to be engaged and involved all the time – not just when there’s an issue specific to us,” Dr. Heck said. “I would encourage anyone in the health care profession, especially physicians, to become involved in the political process.” That could mean getting involved in a local grassroots program or getting to know local representatives.
“Look at running for state office, because much of what impacts us as physicians is decided at the state house, not federally,” he said. “I was in state office first, and that allowed me to stay in an emergency medicine position. There are plenty of resources out there to help you through the process. If you’re interested and motivated to make a change, then do it!”