ACEP Now Medical Editor in Chief Cedric Dark, MD, MPH, FACEP, conducted interviews with each emergency physician running for Congress in 2022. The abridged versions of the interviews were published in the September 2022 print issue.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 41 – No 10 – October 2022
Why did you decide to run for Congress in the first place?
Dr. McCormick: What originally got me in into this fight was going down to the state capitol with the Medical Association of Georgia, which is a bipartisan group of doctors that were just trying to solve a problem with surprise billing. I went down there and actually got mad at my own party. Some people that were blocking good legislation backed by patient advocacy groups and backed by a bipartisan group of doctors just trying to do the right thing for the patient. We realized that there was something to be done. And they asked if I’d be willing to run. And it kind of cascaded from there. Originally, I was asked to run for state senator, but that very quickly escalated. And it’s amazing to have a guy who literally had no background in politics—no connections, didn’t know one politician three years ago—to now be the nomination for one of the most hotly contested races in America.
How do you view ACEP’s policy on firearm safety and injury prevention, which includes universal background checks for all firearm transactions, including private sales and transfers.
Dr. McCormick: We can’t avoid the fact that this is a mental health issue. This is a parenting issue. This is a schooling issue. This is a cultural issue. Making a law is not going solve that.
We have a much deeper problem in America than our laws, but we have a real mental health crisis that we need to address because quite frankly, that’s where most of gun deaths come from: suicides.
How are you best suited to solve our nation’s problems in Congress?
Dr. McCormick: I can be best used and bring my very unique skill set of 20 years of military service. I’ve served with the Marines, the Army, and the Navy, and I’m from an Air Force family. I’m a third-generation military pilot. I bring a lot of experience when it comes to medicine. I’m married to an oncologist who is much smarter and more experienced than I am, but I’m also an ER doc, which is kind of the conduit to all of medicine.
If you look at the two biggest items of spending in the government, it’s the military and health care. I bring a unique skill set to Congress that I think will be applicable, especially somebody who’s literally practicing medicine. I get to witness failed policy regularly and see how we can address that. My wife has to deal with pre approvals and drug pricing, monopolistic practices and pharmaceutical and insurance problems all the time, so I get to hear about it in real time. Quite frankly, this is the one race that we really have almost certainly going to have a doctor coming into the doctor’s caucus. That’s going to be a unique opportunity for another physician to be added to the doctor’s caucus.
What are your thoughts on diversity and the Republican party?
Dr. McCormick: I went to Morehouse School of Medicine for four years, and I was student body President and Morehouse School of Medicine, so [it’s] Very near and dear to my heart. One of my main outreaches as a Republican is to bring back what I believe is our natural center, which is we have always been the party for minorities. We led the woman suffrage movement. We have been there for the little person. I think the we lost the message and we got to get it back.
You’re gonna see the future of the Republican Party is you’re going to find that we are the party of diversity. We’re the party of hope. We’re the party of empowerment of the people, not our government.
What is the most important pillar of what you’re running on this year?
Dr. McCormick: Empowering people. I believe in people over government. I I think if you look at the foundations of this nation, what’s made people successful, it is always a looking away from the government and realizing that governments usually corrupt themselves over time. We’ve proven that even in the United States that the bigger the government gets, the more powerful it gets. The more it plays favorites, the more it purchases votes and it becomes corrupt from within. I don’t believe that a government makes better choices than people or doctors, whether it be medicine, businesses, safety. I think the government has its place to protect the people,and their pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And I think if you you think that we throw money at everything, that’s a good cause, you’ll never run out of another pet project. You’ll never have enough money for everything because you’re never done giving away other people’s money.
How do you think your experience in the ED will contribute to your ability to make an impact in public office?
Dr. McCormick: Look at the way we handle this pandemic, I think we made some missteps. I think when you start to Lord over people and don’t allow them to have a conversation with their physician instead of just making blanket decisions with a bunch of lawyers up in DC, if you reinforce that trust that that relationship between a physician and patient, we would have a much better conversation. We have really divided people and galvanized people, even against some good medicine at times, because we made this political. I think it’s really important to depoliticize medicine.
I think we witness the horrors of society. We see the huge mental health crisis that we’re going through right now. I’d say anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of my patients every night are suffering from some sort of anxiety, depression, suicide, reality, drug addiction, alcohol problems. And that spills over into violence and drunk driving and everything else.
You’ve seen it with over 100,000 people dying of overdose deaths as last year. I had two in one week. A 36 year old and a 17 year old that came in basically too far gone to be resuscitated. We certainly need to control the input of drugs into a country. But I think bigger than that. We need to educate.
By use, we’re spending way too much time on politicizing our youth instead of just teaching them truisms about the dangers of drugs.