TEXPAC: Making a Difference in Austin

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Commentary - July 2009

 

Tex Med. 2009;105(7):5-6.

Editor's Note: Wichita Falls pathologist Susan Strate, MD, chair of the Texas Medical Association Political Action Committee Board of Directors, delivered these remarks to the TMA House of Delegates during TexMed 2009 in Austin.

Greetings from your political action committee - TEXPAC.

TEXPAC is the political voice of medicine, on the campaign trail and at the capitol, working to fulfill TMA's mission "to improve the health of all Texans" - and extending our influence beyond the medical office.

Many think TEXPAC just raises money for contributions to political candidates. But it doesn't stop there. TEXPAC is a key component in solving the complex medical-political puzzle. Your TMA dues support TMA's public affairs efforts, but your TEXPAC dues lay a foundation for TMA's success by educating candidates and building rapport with medicine-friendly candidates. We must rely on the individual physician's investment in TEXPAC to ensure medicine's success.

Let me give you a quick example: In the 2007 legislative session, a legislator did not support our position on medical liability. But along the campaign trail last year, local physicians visited him to reemphasize our dismay of that position, educate him about the issue, and let him know that before we could support his reelection, we needed his assurance that he would help stop bad tort legislation. Because he needed our support and help for his heated reelection bid, he committed to supporting our position on medical liability. Recently, he had the opportunity to follow through on his promise and voted in our favor.

This is what TEXPAC does. It educates candidates on our positions and works to increase the number of medicine-friendly legislators. The care of our patients and the future of our profession depend upon the decisions made at the state capitol and in bureaucratic offices - in short, on what we are able to accomplish in the public arena.

 

Moving ahead

The TEXPAC board is the engine that propels our political effort forward, and we believe it's time to rev it up to a higher level.

Our goals for TEXPAC are to:

  • Recruit 25 percent of each county medical society's physician membership;
  • Strengthen TEXPAC's partnership with the TMA House of Delegates and county and specialty societies;
  • Increase our value and visibility among physicians and in the political arena; and
  • Work closely with the TMA Council on Legislation to bring together at the capitol better informed legislators and members of the physician community to solve the challenges of practicing medicine. We've done this during the 2008 election cycle and the current legislative session. We will continue our work educating candidates, building accountability, and establishing rapport with candidates along the 2010 campaign trail - and believe it or not, we've already started down that path.

What have we accomplished so far? Let's review our current highlight reel:

  • More than 93 percent of candidates supported by TEXPAC in 2008 won their elections.
  • And, yes , there is another doctor in the House: TEXPAC was pivotal in electing Mark Shelton, MD, of Fort Worth, to the Texas House of Representatives.
  • Physicians set the health care agenda for the 81st Texas Legislature prior to the session by taking copies of  Doctor's Orders , TMA's legislative outline, to their legislators across the state.
  • We increased our physician membership by 17 percent, and increased our dues revenue by 6 percent.

Talk about shaping the future of Texas medicine … this is what TEXPAC does.

But we can do better. For example, right now only 14 percent of TMA physician members are TEXPAC members; in fact, only 41 percent of the TMA House of Delegates are TEXPAC members. For TEXPAC to maintain its premiere position as the voice of the Texas physician community, we must do better.

Our success has been a direct result of involvement, your support, and your commitment. We can't afford to waver when the stakes are as high as they are now. We must commit ourselves, each year, to ensure that Texas physicians are well resourced to make a meaningful and indelible impact on the political process.

We must continue to educate candidates and legislators on TMA's key topics, including:

  • Insurance reform and our Patients' Right to Know agenda,
  • Maintaining physician clinical autonomy and keeping the patient-physician relationship free of corporate influence,
  • Protecting our tort reform gains,
  • Ensuring patient safety through appropriate scope-of-practice policies, and
  • Fully funded graduate medical education.

What can you do to help propel TEXPAC forward:

  • If you are not a TEXPAC member, join today! Or, if you are a TEXPAC member - thank you, but please consider upgrading your membership, and recruit one of your colleagues to match your investment.
  • Talk to your patients about our issues, volunteer for a campaign, vote promedicine.
  • Lastly, get to know your legislator. If you are friends with your legislator, make sure that TEXPAC knows to plug you into our key contact network.

In closing, I want to thank the current TEXPAC Board of Directors for agreeing to serve during the 2010 election cycle, and I especially wish to acknowledge the TMA Public Affairs and TEXPAC staff for their help, guidance, and support.

Chairing TEXPAC provides me a constant reminder that we are working on challenging issues and that physicians are the ones who practice medicine, and we are the ones who care for and advocate for our patients.

With your support, we will work collaboratively to propel TEXPAC forward. Thank you, on behalf of the TEXPAC Board of Directors and staff, for everything you do.

For more information on what else you can do to help TEXPAC, visit our  Web site  or call (800) 880-1300, ext. 1361, or (512) 370-1361.

 

Texas Medical Association Political Action Committee (TEXPAC) is a bipartisan political action committee of TMA and affiliated with the American Medical Association Political Action Committee (AMPAC) for congressional contribution purposes only. Its goal is to support and elect pro-medicine candidates on both the federal and state level. Voluntary contributions by individuals to TEXPAC should be written on personal checks. Funds attributed to individuals or professional association (PAs) that would exceed legal contribution limits will be placed in the TEXPAC administrative account to support political education activities. Contributions are not limited to the suggested amounts. TEXPAC will not favor or disadvantage anyone based on the amounts or failure to make contributions. Contributions are subject to the prohibitions and limitations of the Federal Election Campaign Act.

Contributions or gifts to TEXPAC or any CMS PAC are not deductible as charitable contributions or business expenses for Federal income tax purposes. Only contributions to the TMA Foundation, any CMS foundation, and the Physicians Benevolent Fund are deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes.

Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation, and name of employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year. Contributions from a practice business account must disclose the name of the practice and the allocation of contributions for each contributing owner. Should you have any questions, please call TEXPAC at (512) 370-1361.

 

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