RADPAC's crystal anniversary marks 15 years of political engagement.
RADPAC, the American College of Radiology Association (ACRA) bipartisan political action committee (PAC), is celebrating its crystal anniversary this year.
It hardly seems that 15 years have passed since the formation of radiology’s PAC. Of course, RADPAC was not the first physician political action committee. More than 50 years ago, the AMA’s PAC (AMPAC) became the first non–labor union PAC. As Ardis D. Hoven, MD, then chair of the AMA Board of Trustees, pointed out in 2011, physicians have long been engaged in the American political process, beginning with the five physicians who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
PACs exist to promote and facilitate the education of policy-makers. Although RADPAC is not the largest medical PAC, it is close. Of the more than 120 registered health care PACs, RADPAC continues to rank in the top three for funds raised and contributed and recently ranked 12th out of the more than 4,300 PACs registered with the Federal Election Commission in funds raised. In each of the last three years, RADPAC raised more than $1.3 million in contributions from just over 3,000 individual radiologists. However, the number of contributors is just barely 10 percent of the entire ACRA membership.
RADPAC has been a pioneer in strategically using these contributions. In addition to direct contributions to campaigns to attend Washington, D.C. fundraising events for both democrats and republicans, RADPAC also helps sponsor and coordinate fundraisers throughout the country so that individual radiologists can be more engaged in political activity and directly participate in the education of federal politicians at a more personal and local level.
A more sophisticated way to support candidates is through so-called independent expenditures. While federal rules limit the amount of money a PAC can contribute directly to a candidate, the same rules allow PACs to spend an unlimited amount of money to purchase ads and other materials to support candidates as long as there is no coordination with the candidates, their offices, or their campaign staff. These expenditures allow PACs to make a bold statement on behalf of individual candidates. In the current election cycle, RADPAC is making a number of bipartisan independent expenditures for candidates with a strong connection to radiology.
Health care is a complex subject, and the need to educate members of Congress about health care issues continues. More than 40 percent of the current Congress is new since 2010, and more than 50 new members are expected after this November’s election. The next five to ten years in health care will likely be the most important in our lifetime, as the Affordable Care Act is implemented. For better or worse, Congress and politics will shape our future. Physicians and physician organizations need to make the politicians aware of our issues. The ACR’s government relations team does an outstanding job educating members of Congress about important issues on our behalf. For instance, 41 members of the U.S. Senate recently signed a letter urging Medicare to follow the lead of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and provide coverage for lung cancer screening using low-dose computed tomography.
The traditional gift on a 15th anniversary is crystal As an avid college football fan, when I think about crystal, all I see is the crystal football, which is awarded each year to college football’s national champions. Well, for the last 15 years, RADPAC has been radiology’s champion. It has been a privilege for me to serve as RADPAC’s chair for the last two years, and I thank you all for that opportunity. The ACRA’s RADPAC team is dedicated to our specialty, and these professionals have made RADPAC an important facet of the politics of health care reform. Additionally, I am grateful to the ACRA member volunteers who make up the RADPAC Board and the RADPAC Advisory Council. They are also working diligently on your behalf.
The importance of RADPAC is crystal clear. RADPAC’s first 15 years have been stellar. I am excited about the opportunities physicians will have over the next ten years to be involved in shaping their futures.I’m eager to know what RADPAC’s silver anniversary story will be. For more information, visit www.RADPAC.org.
By Bibb Allen Jr., MD, FACR