As scientists, physicians expect medical policy development to be evidence based. However in the political process, where policies are translated into laws that can have a huge impact on quality and access to medical care, there are numerous perspectives and levels of understanding about the “evidence” that are under consideration in a public policy debate. This makes physician involvement in the political process essential to ensure that sound health care policy is enacted. This is accomplished in the following ways:
There’s nothing more persuasive than a physician communicating directly with elected officials about how proposed public policy affects patient care. State and local elected officials may have limited knowledge about the health care issue under consideration and may be getting erroneous or incomplete information from the other interested parties. For these reasons, it is critical that physicians engage our elected officials to advise them on the ramifications of how proposed policies will impact our profession and the patients we care for. ACCMA members can help to accomplish this by becoming more involved in political advocacy as a legislative “key contact.”
The most effective way to ensure that elected officials promote legislative positions supported by the medical profession is to help elect candidates who share our profession’s perspective. Based on recommendations from local medical societies, CALPAC at the State and Federal level, and ACCPAC at the local level, make monetary contributions to support candidates whose views are most consistent with ACCMA and CMA policy positions. These political action committees are nonpartisan; support is based on candidates’ views and receptiveness to physicians' concerns.