When politics seem divisive, COMPAC connects physicians to make a difference for our profession and patients

by Emily Bishop, Colorado Medical Society Director of Government Affairs

I hardly need to tell you that the November election feels urgent. Every time we look at the news or consider the current state of the pandemic, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. The novel coronavirus has exposed and exacerbated myriad weak spots in our society. Politics have become more divisive and uglier than we thought possible. This year has felt like we’ve been walking on a knife-edge, with the 2020 election looming like a critical tipping point.

Under that weight it can be difficult to know where and how you can make a difference. Becoming involved in the Colorado Medical Political Action Committee (COMPAC) is a good place to begin. As a physician, this is where your voice is loudest and your influence greatest.

“In the past, physicians have often been a group who are reluctant to get involved in politics. Our priorities are to our patients and it can be difficult to see how much influence we can have in our communities,” said outgoing COMPAC Chair Christopher Unrein, DO. “I’m here to tell you that if you’ve been looking for a sign, this is it. Our profession and our patients are not exempt from political influence and, in these uncertain times, uniting our voices is critical.”

Through COMPAC, the Colorado Medical Society is the only organization in Colorado fighting for our profession and what physicians value. No one else is going to stand up for you.

Our presence at the Capitol on your behalf is critical as we face attacks on medical liability, unprecedented budget cuts, attempts to strip confidentiality from counseling services, and numerous other challenges.

With your support, we begin to build our legislative firewall early through a candidate interview process. Partnering with local physicians we thoroughly educate and vet candidates on key issues developed by staff, our lobby team, and with the input of partners and the COMPAC Board. The COMPAC Board then endorses pro-physician candidates based on three factors:

  • The candidate’s positions on COMPAC’s identified key issues;
  • The sentiment of physicians who reside and vote in the district; and
  • The demographics of the district and a candidate’s ability to win.

“COMPAC was one of the first lobbying groups to engage me as a candidate when I first ran for the Colorado House of Representatives in 2015-2016,” said Sen. Chris Hansen, D-Denver. “The group of doctors involved included me in a thoughtful dialogue on health care policy – helpful to me since I was originally drawn to public service to make a difference in energy and the environment. As a legislator you have to have a working knowledge on the many issues facing the state and this can seem impossible, but forming relationships with physicians early in my candidacy and throughout my term in office has been invaluable to my understanding of health care.”

Interviews during the 2020 election cycle have educated candidates on medical liability, including retroactive liability protections for physicians facing the challenges of practice during COVID-19; ensuring that parents seeking non-medical immunization exemptions for their school-age children are better educated about vaccinations; maintaining the telehealth coverage expansions mandated by Gov. Jared Polis’s executive order during the public health emergency even after it ends; the importance of quality care when considering cost-reducing measures; and much more.

“Fundraising is a necessary part of campaigning,” said Rep. Colin Larson, R-Littleton. “And because representatives in the state House of Representatives are elected to two-year terms, it is a nearly constant process. I was honored to receive COMPAC’s endorsement and support in my 2020 re-election, and more importantly, to have access to doctors and CMS representatives at the Capitol as expert resources when health care policy issues arise.”

The interview process, endorsements, contributions and – most important – relationships built between participating providers and candidates are unique to COMPAC and part of the reason that CMS is such a respected organization at the Capitol. If you are interested in participating in future candidate interviews with COMPAC, please contact me at emily_bishop@cms.org.

As we face down the ongoing pandemic, a social reckoning, political upheaval, and a world that is placing ever more demands on our time and attention, it is important to remember there is strength in community. COMPAC offers you an opportunity to unite with your peers to advocate for positive change in your profession and on behalf of your patients. The reputation of CMS at the Capitol as the trusted voice of physicians and COMPAC’s work to build strong legislative allies is only possible if you are an active member in our community. Volunteer for candidate interviews, attend events for legislators and candidates in your area, and perhaps most importantly of all, contribute to COMPAC by visiting cms.org/contribute. Your voice matters; ensure it is being heard.

5 reasons to donate to COMPAC

  1. We educate candidates on the key issues and secure commitments before there’s even a bill.
  2. Actively contribute to and participate in your community.
  3. Our endorsed legislators consider us the leading experts and turn to us first when it comes to health care issues at the Capitol.
  4. You have enough on your plate right now. Let us protect against liability attacks by building a legislative firewall.
  5. This work on behalf of your profession, practice and patients isn’t possible without your contribution. Visit cms.org/contribute.

5 reasons to donate to the small donor committee

  1. We only give money to candidates who commit to never raise the noneconomic damages cap.
  2. A little goes a long way: your $50/year contribution enables us to contribute big – $5,350 compared to COMPAC’s $400.
  3. It took a lot of work to establish Colorado’s stable liability climate. It takes just as much work to maintain it each year.
  4. Your medical malpractice insurance premium will increase unless we are able to block the trial lawyers.
  5. This work on behalf of your profession, practice and patients isn’t possible without your contribution. Visit cms.org/contribute.

Categories: Communications, Colorado Medicine, Cover Story, Legislative Updates, Resources, Initiatives, Advocacy