December 1999 Bulletin

Orthopaedists eye Congress

Plan to push health care reform

Some might say it's a tough call for any dedicated orthopaedist to give up his or her practice and enter the political arena.

But for 36-year old Paul E. Perry, MD, that's what he'll do if he wins.

Dr. Perry is running for Congress in Indiana's 8th Congressional District. Winning the May 2, 2000 primary and eventually the congressional race would mean that he'd have a chance to make "meaningful change."

"Health care is the most important issue that is going to be discussed next year," Dr. Perry says. "And as a physician, I certainly understand the health care issues."

Some of his issues include supporting legislation to hold HMOs accountable for making medical decisions, protecting the rights of all patients to choose his/her own doctor, reforming Medicare and simplifying HCFA regulations so everyone can understand and comply with them. Dr. Perry also supports collective bargaining for physicians to "level the playing field between massive insurance companies and small groups of physicians."

So far, fundraising efforts for Dr. Perry are going strong; he has a budget of $1.5 million to win the seat. "I've got the best team helping me get elected such as consultants and other grassroots supporters inside the congressional district," he says.

Losing the Democratic primary in 1998 has not deterred Jeffrey C. Thomas, MD, from campaigning again in the Sept. 12, 2000 Democratic primary to win the lst Congressional District of Wisconsin.

"It's as tough a battle as it was before and it doesn't deter me that I lost," says the 59-year old Dr. Thomas, who is running against two other Democratic contenders-a former state legislator and a city council member. "I'm going to campaign hard and talk about my issues-health care reform, education, Social Security, Medicare and the Patients' Bill of Rights."

Perhaps one of the most challenging bids for a primary race is the U.S. Senate seat in New York. And it's one that Mark S. McMahon, MD, 38, believes he's got a chance at winning.

He remains undaunted by possible stiff competition from Hillary Rodham Clinton and New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, both of whom, as of this writing, have not officially entered the race. "In spite of what the Democratic party bosses want, I'm running for the U.S. Senate seat," says Dr. McMahon. "The process is not closed off as some would like you to believe."

Dr. McMahon says his issues will be focused on improving health and safety. "I'm for patients' rights, saving Medicare, universal health care insurance and gun control," he says. "My issues aren't something I'm just reading off opinion papers, polling groups, but living it on a day-to-day basis. I deal with patients who can't get MRIs and have to leave the hospital early. I bring the families of the gunshot victims to the morgue. So, for me, these issues are not some abstraction-it's something I really do."

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