Female physicians are among the army of women sprinting to Washington this election cycle. They aim to place healing hands on a broken healthcare system. All eight are proponents of Medicare for all, for reducing the Medicare eligibility age to fifty-five, and focusing on reining in rising insurance, hospital, and pharmaceutical costs.
With women’s healthcare being served on a plate to men gathered secretly to decide issues, the misogyny of the administration seems to be a common theme driving these women to Washington. There are currently 15 male physicians serving in Congress, and to date, there has been only one female physician to serve. That was Donna Christian-Christensen, (D) USVI, who served in the US House of Representatives from 1997 to 2015.
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Dr. Ramsey Ellis, the chairman of RunDocRun, became involved with women’s politics through a Facebook group in July 2016 called, “Physician Women for Democratic Principles” or PWDP. By the time the November, 2016 election rolled around, the group had grown to eight thousand members, and was buzzing with discontent.
“We didn’t want to just sit around being upset,” said Ellis. “We took our sisterhood, and bred positive action.”
We are now collaborating with 314 Action to continue to develop women physicians as leaders through a new organization called Run Doc Run. It became clear that many women docs were stepping up, and we now have eight running in federal races, and three in state races.”
As far as Republicans go, there is one doctor running, Dr. Kelli Ward, for Jeff Flake’s seat in Arizona. Dr Ward, an osteopath, lost to John McCain in the 2016 Republican primary. If these women docs have their way, Congress will need to open wide for a check-up that could lead to drastic treatment changes, or emergency surgery.
Dr. Kathie Allen lost two weeks ago for Jason Chaffetz’s seat in Utah, but she made some great ground in a red area,” said Ellis. “In the state races, we have Dr. Beth Liston- Ohio 21, Dr. Kayser Enneking- Florida Senate 7, and Dr. Andy McGuire running for governor of Iowa.”
Dr. Kathie Allen is looking forward to meeting the group soon in San Francisco. “I’m not sure if I’ll run again. Who knows, I may move to a friendlier district, and run in 2018.”
If only one candidate makes it to Congress, that will be one more woman in Congress than there is now.
Kim Schrier is running for Dave Reichert’s vacant seat in Washington’s 8th district as he retires. She has recently received Emily’s list endorsement. “This is certainly a flippable seat,” said Ellis. “The DCCC is targeting that district, and it’s a closely watched race.”
In California’s 39th District, Dr. Mai Khanh Tran is also thought to have a good chance of winning. Emily’s list has endorsed Dr. Tran, and Dr. Schrier, but candidates must have eighty percent chance of winning before they will endorse them.
If there is a “blue wave,” like in Virginia, heavy lift districts like Dr Hiral Tipirneni in Arizona’s 8th District won’t be impossible to flip. “Hiral is a strong candidate, but she’s in a tough district with Trent Franks in Arizona,” said Ellis.
“The same thing could happen with Dr Horton in the NC 7th District. She’s got a great field program, and the fact that she’s a veteran’s doctor, she’s got a lot of things going in her favor, but also a heavy lift, said Ellis.
“Dr. Mitchell in Tennessee is obviously also a very heavy lift. Very red seat there.”
“Dr. Hashimi’s seat is going to be an open seat in the Maryland 6th, a seat that is historically Democrat. That’s all of our women docs sitting in a swing district that’s targeted by the DCCC.”
Sisterhood runs deep, and these women, though all Democrats, seem to be reading each other’s minds. One theme that weaves through is a need for support for women candidates, that many don’t feel they are getting.
Dr. Kyle Horton – “It’s extremely challenging running as a woman in the South. When it comes to national support, I’ve been encouraged that there are groups like Emily’s list providing training for women candidates. What we saw in Virginia with Danika Roem, where healthcare was the main issue on everyone’s minds, that could happen in NC too. I’m hopeful that in this moment, that the National groups, DCCC, Emilie’s list, and others, are going to step up and support physician women with funding.”
Dr. Kathryn Allen – “It was such a short amount of time to get a campaign with real viability together, and get your message out, it was just a very compressed time frame. I feel like I was out there, and the democratic party didn’t help me. We asked them for twenty-five thousand, and they turned us down. If you don’t have an obviously winnable race, people just turn their backs on you. Emily’s List, 9490, Democracy for American, Justice Democrats, Swing left, or Flippable – none of those organizations helped us. There were four or five who did help. I got help from 314 Action and by the Armenian National Committee, because I’m half Armenian, and by a couple of small labor organizations.
“The group of physician women prefer to run a truly strictly grass roots campaign, with no corporate funding, but they still would like to have funding from the DCCC and other groups.”
Representative Deb Butler (D) District 18, NC House of Representative, for Dr. Kyle Horton – “Kyle is running a strictly grass roots campaign, with funding from private donations. David Rouser accepted campaign funds from Dupont Chemours following dumping of GenX chemicals in the Cape Fear River. When you accept donations from big colluders that are fouling the very water and air that your constituents drink, I mean, you know, come on!”
Dr. Nadia Hashimi – “I want voters to pay attention to the financing in politics. I knew politics was run by money and that there was an inside game. I did not think it would be so blatant. When I told advisors that I wanted to run for Congress, I was informed that I needed to raise $100k from my friends and family within the first month. I was told I needed to raise $250k in the first quarter. I’ve been told I need to spend 5-9 hours a day asking for money (when I think it would be best to spend that time researching issues, devising policies and engaging with voters).”
They all agree that the misogyny in the White House has driven them to run for Congress, but that’s not all.
Dr. Christine Eady Mann – “I was very concerned with the President’s misogyny during his campaign, and was alarmed that he was chosen to be the nominee of the Republican party. After the election, male Congressmen were smiling in photos as they crafted legislation that took away women’s rights. In my district, I became leader of the local Indivisible Chapter, and we went to visit our Representative’s office to discuss issues. After one meeting, his staff refused to let us schedule additional meetings. That was outrageous, and I had to enter the race.”
Dr. Kim Schrier – “From my perspective, women all over are stepping up because of unprecedented attacks on women’s rights and misogyny from the highest levels of government.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the support and generosity of all the people who have contributed so far to our grass roots campaign. Launching a campaign in Arizona in July, just months after a bruising election cycle, is tough, but this community is coming together. In our first quarterly report with the Federal Election Commission, covering from July 19th through the end of the filing period on Sept. 30th, we raised $165,266 and reported $123,339 cash on hand. By comparison, our eight-term incumbent Rep. Trent Franks reported raising $119,326 in contributions since October 1, 2016. Franks has never reported raising more than $150,000 in a quarter since he ran in Arizona’s new 8th Congressional District and the last time he did was in the 3rd quarter of 2010.”
For universal healthcare, these anatomy buffs have plans:
Dr. Danielle Mitchell – “I see that people were literally falling off the edge of the cliff they were being financially wiped out by healthcare on a routine basis. I started seeing people struggling with every aspect of their lives, with not being able to make it pay check to pay check due to medical bills. Tennessee is first in the nation for filings of bankruptcy. I’m a family physician, and because I’m a small business owner, I’m insured by the ACA.
“I’ve been watching the current administration’s political jousting. Even with Obama, there was some political sabotaging going on. I started bearing the brunt of that, just like my patients did. I had lost one hundred pounds through proper nutrition and exercise, and finished 6 full iron mans. I ended up getting diagnosed with a very rare vascular disease, and because I’m insured on the ACA, I was able to save my life then. I started to see that last January this administration literally trying to take healthcare from me. Everyone is one walking preexisting condition. I grew up poor and uninsured. I had a younger brother who also suffered from epilepsy, so my parents were having to borrow money to get his life saving medicines.”
“I can remember one of the bills that they couldn’t pay was the bill to see the neurologist, and the doctor wouldn’t see my brother. It was about three weeks later that my brother died from a seizure in our house.”
Dr. Janet Everhard – “Physicians are entering Congressional races because we see a political assault on our patients’ rights. Whether it’s attempting to remove twenty-four million Americans from adequate access to healthcare or de-fund Planned Parenthood, the current Administration is prioritizing the interests of the wealthy and well-connected over the health of working families. I am laser-focused on crafting legislation on universal access to affordable, quality healthcare with private delivery, that is a good taxpayer investment. We need to negotiate with Healthcare deliverers to create a win-win solution. With a goal of Medicare for All, an incremental approach can be used to maintain health delivery market stabilization. The most important place at the table will belong to We the People.”
Dr. Mai Khanh Tran – “The morning after Congressman Royce joined most other Republican’s in the House to kick millions off their healthcare coverage, I was seeing a child cancer patient, who both his mother and I knew would be impacted by this vote. She cried in my arms, and I sobbed with her. It was then I decided to get out of my exam room and run for Congress. Congressmen Royce also opposes woman’s health rights. First, do no harm! I would not use healthcare to find money to give the wealthiest a tax break. We need to invest in shoring up hard to cover markets, protect patients with pre-existing conditions, and work constructively on a bi-partisan basis to find solutions.
Veterans care is a top priority for women physician candidates running for Congress, and several of them have experience with working with Veterans, and even drafting Veteran’s bills in Washington, DC.”
Dr. Kyle Horton – “For veteran’s care, we couldn’t achieve what we wanted to with regards to veteran suicide prevention, as it remains a public health crisis. Part of it was funding, and part of it was timing. The enormity of the problem would dictate to use more aggressive interventions in terms of resources, particularly to nonprofits who are working with the VA, and in concert with the VA. To hire more vets into the VA to serve in the peer support roles that have been effective would improve care. There are things like burn pit exposure, which could be the agent orange for younger vets, that a lot of people don’t know anything about. We don’t want to repeat the same mistakes we did with agent orange with burn pit exposure. That’s where having a physician who has cared for veterans as a primary career is something that could make a difference.
“When I was working on the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Bill, they were also working on the VA reform bill. That scandal was about delays in veteran care, and there was only about a ten percent increase in funding and resources in the wake of that horrible scandal. Even now, we see that female veteran suicide rates are astronomical. Here in NC, our suicide rates for our veterans is about 37 percent higher than the national average, and we’ve had some of the longest waits in the entire country in eastern NC for veteran’s care. We’re not alone. I want people to know that they have an opportunity to put a woman doctor in the house at a time when there are no women in congress – not just any woman doctor, but one whose really been fighting for our veterans, and fulfilling our sacred obligation to those who have bravely served this country.
Dr. Nadia Hashimi – Related to veteran’s health, expansion of access is a big deal. Where necessary, I would allow Veteran’s to seek timely care outside of VA facilities. Oversight of pharmaceutical pricing and increasing the number of physician residency training spots to address the physician shortage would be one plan. I’d also expand loan forgiveness for those who practice in underserved regions to increase access to care.”
Dr. Janet Everhard – “I have served the women and veterans of my district since 1989 and 2011, respectively. I am a retired physician who managed my own Gynecology surgery practice and achieved a work-life balance for my employees and myself. I lost the use of my hands due to overuse injury and became a volunteer Veterans Outreach Coordinator, Event Planner, instructor, and photographer for the Tri-State chapter of a national veteran’s organization called Team River Runner. TRR uses kayaking as a recreational therapy tool for healing veterans with PTSD, chronic homelessness, substance abuse, and severe disability. I’m committed to Veteran’s health in Congress.”
Dr. Hiral Tipirnini – “Healthcare is a moral obligation, but it is never “free.” Everyone eventually needs healthcare, so everyone should have health insurance. The bottom-line is that a solution must be developed that includes expanding the risk pool with healthy individuals. Fiscally responsible, efficient practices within our healthcare system which lead to healthier Americans must be our goal, not scoring political points We need a collaborative approach that addresses the twin pillars of expanded coverage and cost containment. Such a plan is only possible with ideas borrowed from both sides of the debate. I have seen firsthand the struggles of the uninsured as well as the direct, tangible benefits the ACA has brought to real peoples’ lives, and it’s too valuable to simply toss aside. Here are ways to strengthen and further improve the current state of our healthcare system.”
They all feel their healthcare as women is being threatened:
Dr. Christine Eady Mann – “I think a lot of female physicians have watched as our patients, especially women, have had access to care threatened. We advocate every day for patients in our careers, so it’s a natural step to want to advocate for people in a broader arena.”
Dr. Kim Schrier – “Another element is the blatant attacks on women’s reproductive rights. Politics suddenly got extremely personal for me as a pediatrician, a person of science, and a mom, after last year’s election. When I see tables full of men making decisions about our reproductive rights, I know that my voice – our voice – is missing. I decided to step up, as did many others with whom I share common cause and purpose. They have brutally attacked the rights of women.”
They are concerned for the environment, and deregulation of the EPA:
Deb Butler, NC House for Dr. Kyle Horton – “David Rouser took money from Dupont Chemours recently, a company that is responsible for contaminating the Cape Fear river with GenX and other Teflon-like hazardous chemicals. don’t know how you proport to care about clean water when you deregulate as fast as you can, and you embrace an EPA that doesn’t believe in climate change. And you accept donations from big colluders that are fouling the very water and air that his constituents drink, I mean, you know, come on!”
Dr. Kyle Horton – “There’s ninety-five in GDP and 1.4 million jobs in fishing and tourism on the Atlantic Coast. We should protect them from drilling, and protect a clean economy, instead of turning it into an industrial polluted and industrialized one. We pulled together a coalition of gulf leaders, arctic leaders, and we met with the White House administration at the tail end of the Obama administration, I got to deliver over two million oppositional comments to drilling to the White House, and Obama pulled the Atlantic then from any of the drilling plans. We have not able to get any meetings with the current administration that have been productive to oppose drilling at this point. One of our members was killed in the deep-water horizon explosion in the Gulf. They want offshore drilling in the Atlantic out our back door. The trump administration is green lighting drilling now.”
Dr. Janet Everhard – “I have several original ideas which would benefit the environment. The first is USA Works, a labeling system to inform consumers by QR code about the sustainability of products they purchase, and whether the products are made in the USA, and of USA-produced materials. The second is developing an Interstate Bikeway system, which would allow communities throughout the country to design, build, and maintain sections of a hike-bike trail linking them to their neighboring towns along unused railroad beds. This would encourage walking and cycling, local job development, historical and cultural expression, and good health of citizens. The third idea is the U.S. Food Forest System. Permaculture gardens and food forests on public lands and rights-of-way would provide emergency food security, and local employment, populate food deserts, and increase food quality and nutrition.
“They have a heart for all people, and desire to provide good paying jobs and excellent education for their communities.”
Deb Butler, NC House, for Dr. Kyle Horton – “David Rouser is a Jesse Helms protégé. That concerns me, because Jesse Helms was not the most compassionate person. He didn’t respect diversity of any kind, and I don’t get the feeling that David Rouser does either. Kyle is working very hard, it’s a big district that has been a historically Republican district, and I think she’s extremely brave to take it on. I’m extremely proud that she is willing to speak up for the middle class. David Rouser’s policies have hollowed out the middle class, and any prosperity that North Carolinians are feeling is felt at the very top. Kyle understands that, and is willing to work for bread-and-butter values that the Republicans have neglected.”
Dr. Nadia Hashimi – “My platform addresses disparity in the criminal justice system, and the unfortunate prison pipeline we’ve created. I’ve seen kids come through the emergency room in handcuffs with little to no social work involvement. We need to see how we can get them back on track, and avoid branding them as ‘criminals.’ This disproportionately affects minorities. I’d also focus on leveling the playing field for our youngest students by providing additional funding for under-resourced schools – again, this disproportionately affects minorities. I’m a first generation American. My family comes from Afghanistan, and the longstanding war and US military involvement in Afghanistan makes this relevant in my campaign. I can see myself providing insight into the Afghan dynamics that affect the US involvement there.”
Dr. Danielle Mitchell – “You can talk till the cows come home about jobs in Tennessee, but they are low paying jobs that keep people in poverty. We need to make sure that we have good paying, stable jobs. The environment is a major job producer in Tennessee. It’s time to highlight people who have shown through public and civil service, that they are going to represent the middle class and all Tennesseans.”
Dr. Mai Khahn Tran – “I will do so with a first-hand understanding of these communities, who I care for daily. To me, these are not just demographic categories. They are names, faces, and stories that I know personally. I came to this country as a refuge. My family and I struggled economically for many years, working as farmworkers picking strawberries for over a decade. I worked my way through Harvard as a janitor cleaning dorm rooms and bathrooms. I care deeply about honest families like mine, who are simply trying to live the same American Dream I am living. I will work my heart out every day to put working and middle-class families first.”
Dr. Kim Schrier – “I will work with immigrant communities all over my district and tech CEOs in the western part of my district. I will work with farmers and growers in the east, to make sure that immigration reform expands opportunity for everyone. We can’t cut short the American Dream for the next generation.
“Building a strong educational system for constituents is important to women doc candidates.”
Dr. Kyle Horton – “In NC, we’ve had substantial problems with desegregation in our schools. And the funding for public education has been a tremendous problem at a time when about a quarter of our kids here grow up in poverty. This is about a robust social faith in that protects our kids and our families, and funding education is about opportunity for someone’s life. I would like to see policies that renew that commitment to funding public education, and ensuring that higher education is affordable and accessible to everyone, so that they can achieve and meet the need to get 21st century jobs.”
Dr. Danielle Mitchell – “We must have job skills training programs, as well as having affordable education for all.”
Dr. Kim Schrier – “We will be strengthening our highs schools, so students graduate with the skills they need in this economy, whether their next step is college, career, tech school or apprenticeships.”
And the next step for Congress, might be welcoming these eight strong women doctors to their ranks.