Alice Yau, Marina A. Lentskevich, Irene Yau, Iulianna Taritsa, Kaleem S. Ahmed, Teeba Marlowe, Arun K. Gosain

“A Fifty-Year Review of Congressional Membership by Healthcare Professionals: Is Surgical Representation Adequate for Informed Legislation?”

  • Surgery

Summary: Whereas 100% of Congressional legislators vote on healthcare policy, only a minority have a background in healthcare. A review of the participation of healthcare professionals (HCPs) in Congress, highlighting participation by surgeons, is critical to the future policy-making endeavors in healthcare. This article seeks to better understand the characteristics of HCPs that engage in advocacy and describe the trends in their representation in Congress, with commentary on participation by surgeons and its impact on current health advocacy efforts. A search of and the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress was performed to identify professional healthcare history for each Congressperson, followed by review of official campaign websites for health advocacy work. Statistical analysis was performed using IBM® SPSS® Statistics Software for changes in representation of healthcare professionals, physicians, and surgeons in Congress over time. While there has been increasing representation of HCPs in Congress in the last 25 years, surgeons have the lowest increase in Congressional membership. For healthcare reform to optimally address high costs, variable insurance coverage and reimbursement rates, and equal access to care, more physicians must make healthcare advocacy efforts an integral part of their careers. Incorporation of education in areas of healthcare advocacy and/or reform into undergraduate and graduate medical education curricula may help address deficiencies in knowledge of current healthcare-related events to further encourage involvement in healthcare legislation.

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