As our National Emergency Medicine Political Action Committee (NEMPAC) Board examined our accomplishments in the 2020 election cycle and prepared for the 117th Congress, an act of violence took place at our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. This event and votes that day to certify the election results generated thoughtful, and sometimes emotional, communications from ACEP members to our Board and ACEP leaders.
Many suggested the day’s events should be integrated into NEMPAC’s giving criteria going forward and some members of Congress should be held accountable. For the past several months, our Board has been thoroughly evaluating our current criteria and considering the viewpoints of ACEP members who have called, emailed, and responded to a member-wide NEMPAC survey.
We pride ourselves on being a PAC that listens, and we are committed to keeping an open, transparent dialogue with our donors going forward. Only ACEP members can support NEMPAC, so it is incumbent upon us to be responsible stewards of your contributions.
We want you to know your voices are valued and we are taking action. We have made some changes to our criteria for the 2022 election cycle after reviewing the feedback of ACEP members and reflections of our PAC Board.
Evaluation criteria for the 2022 elections will continue to follow past NEMPAC practices of focusing on a candidate’s support of ACEP’s key legislative and regulatory initiatives, co-sponsorship of ACEP legislation, committee assignment, leadership position, relationship to state chapter and/or local ACEP members, and difficulty of the reelection race.
We have also now made it clear in our guidelines that candidates and incumbents who receive NEMPAC support are expected to exhibit behavior and actions consistent with the mission, vision, and values of ACEP and uphold the principles of our nation’s democratic process and orderly governance.
We believe NEMPAC-supported candidates should affirm science, evidence, and fact in their words and actions. We also intend to assess the integrity and character of the candidates on an ongoing basis and may consider ceasing contributions to a candidate or committee if credible, specific, and serious allegations about the candidate’s behavior arise. NEMPAC will also continue our commitment to inclusiveness and respect for diversity.
Please know that a decision to financially support a candidate for office is not an endorsement of every vote the candidate has or will cast in Congress. NEMPAC supports candidates based on their ability to influence emergency medicine–related issues affecting your practice environment and access to care for patients.
More than 40 years ago, a group of ACEP members started NEMPAC, and today, we continue to carry forth their mission to work in the best interest of emergency medicine.
Political action has become an integral part of the business culture found in nearly every sector of the economy. Grassroots activism and financial strength through a PAC can be a profession’s best tools to broaden relationships with influential members of Congress.
NEMPAC is a mobilizing force that we use to protect and advance ACEP’s mission of promoting the highest-quality emergency care and serving as the leading advocate for emergency physicians, your patients, and the public. It is the only national PAC solely dedicated to representing our shared, bipartisan interests in Washington, D.C.
The importance and relevance of our PAC continues to grow. Over the past year, NEMPAC played a crucial role in helping ACEP find success on issues like Medicare reimbursement cuts, surprise medical billing, and obtaining needed resources during the pandemic. Now, with issues on the table such as addressing emergency physician mental health, preventing additional Medicare cuts, alleviating workplace violence, and providing access to treatment for emergency department patients suffering from mental health and substance abuse disorders, we need a voice more than ever.
NEMPAC has never been partisan—we always have been strategic about whom we decide to support based on their support of us. During the 2020 election cycle, NEMPAC contributed nearly $1.7 million to federal candidates, party committees, and independent expenditures on both sides of the aisle. Of that, we allocated 55 percent to Democrats and 45 percent to Republicans. In the prior election cycle when Republicans held the House and Senate, our giving was reversed at 55 percent to Republicans and 45 percent to Democrats (see Figure 1). To further the breakdown, in 2020, 42 percent of all support went to diverse candidates, 24.2 percent of all support went to female candidates, and 23 physician candidates were supported.
We are proud of these accomplishments and thank the generous donors who made this possible, even amid being on the front lines during an ongoing global pandemic.
We understand that ACEP members are a diverse group, but all rise every day to take care of patients and their community with a unique, selfless dedication. While you take care of others, we want you to know you can rely on NEMPAC to protect your livelihood in the political arena. We have always made every effort to do what is best for emergency medicine, and we are not planning on changing that now.
If you have questions, comments, or concerns, we greatly welcome feedback. More information about our giving strategy can be found on the NEMPAC website.
The authors are on the Executive Committee of the NEMPAC Board of Trustees.