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AMPAC Holds 2016 Candidate Workshop

On February 19-21, AMPAC began its third decade of political education for AMA members, holding the Candidate Workshop in Arlington, Va. Thirty participants (20 physicians, 4 students, 4 spouses/family members and 2 state society staff) came from 19 states (Az., Ca., Ct., DC., Fl., Ga., La., Md., Ma., Md., Ne., Nj., Ny., Ok., Pa., Tn., Tx., Va., Wa.).
The Candidate Workshop is AMPAC’s annual training program for AMA members and other friends of medicine who are considering a run for public office. A overview lecture on a campaign plan provides the foundation for intensive instruction in modern campaign functions—fundraising, social media and internet communications, polling, campaign message and strategy, public speaking, press relations—to name just a few. The keynote lecture was once again given by The Honorable Dan Morhaim, MD, elected member and Deputy Majority Leader of the Maryland House of Delegates, winner of the 2011 AMA Nathan Davis Award, and AMPAC Candidate Workshop/Campaign School alumnus. Dr. Morhaim talked about his experiences as a physician both on the campaign trail and in the state capital, reminding the participants of the vital impact physician legislators can have on health care policy on the state and local level.
The Workshop, along with the annual AMPAC Campaign School provide intensive political training to AMA members, spouses, and members of state society staff. AMPAC covers all expenses for AMA members, which is an extraordinary value for AMA membership. The value of the program also seemed evident for this year’s attendees, as they gave the Workshop a perfect score (4.0 on a 4-point scale). One attendee noted: “This was one of the best AMA programs I have attended. It was engaging and the knowledge I received was incredibly valuable.”
For more information on the Workshop or the upcoming April 13-17 Campaign School, please contact Jim Wilson of AMA Political Affairs.

AMPAC Co-Hosts Regional Campaign and Grassroots Seminar with MSSNY

On April 10, 35 physicians attended the latest Regional Campaign and Grassroots Seminar, co-hosted by the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) and AMPAC.  The Seminar was held in advance of MSSNY’s Annual Meeting in Tarrytown, NY.

The Seminar opened with a compelling keynote address from William Spencer, MD, a practicing otolaryngologist and current elected representative from the 18th Legislative District of Suffolk County, NY.  Dr. Spencer began the address by noting his own path to elected office, describing his realization that he was spending increasing amounts of time in his practice on administrative matters and less on patient care.  He decided to seek a seat on the Suffolk County Council and was elected for the first time in 2011 by a mere 267 votes.  As a county legislator, Dr. Spencer has found that his expertise and credibility as a physician is in great demand among his colleagues and state legislators as well, and he urged the attendees to become more involved in the political and policy process.  He described his role in shepherding a first-in-the-nation ban on the marketing of energy drinks to children through Suffolk County Medical, on to MSSNY and then through to the AMA House of Delegates.  Given the imprimatur of organized medicine, Dr. Spencer noted that it became significantly easier to pass such a ban on the county level.

Suffolk County Legislator William Spencer, MD

Dr. Spencer exhorted his Empire State colleagues to become more involved in the political process as grassroots advocates, campaign volunteers and fundraisers, but also as candidates for public office. He concluded with a rhetorical question: “Is politics for you?  Well, we already serve the public every day.  We are already public officials. We have no choice but to become more politically involved,” or else physicians will find themselves dictated to by those without sufficient expertise in health care.

AMPAC faculty member Stephanie Vance followed up Dr. Spencer’s talk with tips on how physicians can be more engaged in the policy process as grassroots activists.  She led attendees through an exercise in finding their legislators online and researching legislation that they have introduced.  Ms. Vance also had attendees break into teams and practice “lobbying” her on important MSSNY policy priorities.

Jim Wilson of AMPAC concluded the session by offering practical tips for attendees to help elect allies of medicine as campaign volunteers and fundraisers. Mr. Wilson also offered suggestions for properly engaging the patient population on policy matters through simple steps like leaving brochures and flyers in a waiting room, or wearing a button on a policy issue.

Initial reports indicate that the Seminar was well-received; AMPAC will share the evaluations once they are made available. The Seminar with MSSNY was the fifth of at least eight Seminars scheduled with state societies so far in 2014.  The next Seminar will be held with the Nevada State Medical Association on April 25 in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada.

AMPAC Co-Hosts Regional Campaign and Grassroots Seminar with OSMA

On April 4, 2014, over 80 physicians and friends of medicine attended a Regional Grassroots and Campaign Seminar in Columbus, Ohio, co-hosted by AMPAC and the Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA). The Seminar was held in advance of OSMA’s annual meeting and was part of OSMA’s 12th Annual Education Symposium.

The Seminar began with an update on ACA implementation from OSMA’s Senior Director of Government Relations Tim Maglione.  Next AMPAC faculty member Stephanie Vance gave participants concrete methods for increasing their effectiveness as grassroots activists. Attendees were urged to adopt “S.M.A.R.T” (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals for their advocacy efforts.  Ms. Vance also led the participants through several lobbying exercises using a 7-step message formula for advocacy success.  AMA Regional Political Director John Sweeney concluded the Seminar with real-world tips on how physicians can be more effective in the political arena as campaign volunteers and fundraisers.

Initial reports indicate that the Seminar was well-received: 63% of attendees strongly agreed (31% agreed) on the value of the session for them and 56% strongly agreed (41% agreed) that they would be able to apply what they learned in their advocacy careers. The Seminar with OSMA was the fourth of at least eight Seminars scheduled with state societies so far in 2014.  The next Seminar will be held with the Medical Society of the State of New York on April 10 in Tarrytown, New York.


NCMSPAC, AMPAC Co-Host Regional Seminar

On March 22, 40 physicians and friends of medicine attended the latest Regional Campaign and Grassroots Seminar, co-hosted by AMPAC and North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS).  The Seminar was held as NCMS seeks to engage its members and North Carolina legislators on proposed reforms to Medicaid that will enhance physician input into new models for care delivery for the Tarheel State’s Medicaid population. (more…)

KPAC, AMPAC Host 2nd 2014 Regional Seminar

On February 26, AMPAC conducted a Regional Campaign and Grassroots Seminar with Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) in Frankfort, KY.  Over 50 physicians, residents, students, spouses and state and county staff attended. The Seminar coincided with KMA’s Physicians’ Day at the Capitol in Frankfort.  After a morning of visits with state lawmakers on key issues like liability reform and smoke free workplaces and public spaces, KMA members returned for the Seminar. AMPAC faculty member Stephanie Vance provided attendees with a checklist for effective advocacy communication with lawmakers on the local, state or federal level.  Role-playing exercises also provided practical opportunities to reinforce the development of advocacy communication skills.  Jim Wilson of AMA staff reviewed resources for physician involvement in grassroots lobbying, including the upcoming March 5 Day of Action on SGR repeal.  Mr. Wilson also discussed discrete activities physicians can undertake on the campaign trail—as Get-Out-the-Vote specialists and fundraisers—to enhance medicine’s political influence.

The Seminar was very well-received by KMA members. The February Seminar is the second of at least six Seminars scheduled thus far in 2014.  96% of participants strongly agreed (83%)  or agreed (13%) that the session enabled them to utilize new communication techniques with legislators.  On January 25, AMPAC cohosted a Seminar with Oregon Medical Association in Portland, with over 40 physicians, spouses and friends of medicine attending.  Reviews for that program were also strong, with 93% rating it either excellent (60%) or good (33%). A report on that program can be found at http://www.ampaconline.org/ompac-ampac-co-host-regional-campaign-grassroots-seminar

Upcoming Seminars will be held on: March 22 with North Carolina Medical Society, April 4 with The Ohio State Medical Association, April 10 with the Medical Society of New York and April 25 with Nevada State Medical Association.  Discussions are also underway for Seminars withColorado Medical Society and the Medical Society of Virginia for Seminars later in 2014.

The AMPAC Regional Campaign and Grassroots Seminars are designed to provide training in political campaigns and grassroots lobbying, so that physicians and friends of medicine can help advance medicine’s agenda at all levels of government. AMPAC arranges for faculty and materials, and asks that a state medical society provide meeting space, meals and invite attendees. If your state society would like more information on co-hosting a Regional Seminar, please contact Jim Wilson, political education programs manager, at jim.wilson@ama-assn.org

OMPAC, AMPAC Co-host Regional Campaign & Grassroots Seminar

40 physicians and friends of medicine gathered at the headquarters of the Oregon Medical Association (OMA) on January 24th for “Learn to be Your Best Advocate,” the first of at least 6 Regional Campaign and Grassroots Seminars to be co-hosted by AMPAC and state medical societies in 2014. The 6 hour training featured practical tips for improving physicians’ legislative and political effectiveness in both Salem and Washington, DC.

State Senator Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward, MD, welcomes attendees to the OMA-AMPAC Leadership and Advocacy Training on January 24 in Portland. John Horvivk of DHM Research is at left.

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AMPAC Co-Hosts Campaign Seminar with CMS

On October 12th, 50 physicians and medical students attended a Regional Campaign and Grassroots Seminar in Denver, CO co-hosted by the Colorado Medical Society (CMS) and AMPAC.  AMA Immediate Past President Jeremy Lazarus, MD, himself a Denver resident, began the program with an update on AMA activities including proposals for Medicare payment reform. Stephanie Vance of Advocacy Associates provided attendees with techniques to develop more effective and productive relationships with legislators at the state and federal level.

(From left): Former Colorado Medical Society (CMS) President Lee Morgan, MD, current CMS President John Bender, MD, Colorado State Senator Irene Aguilar, MD, CMS Immediate Past President Jan Kief, MD and AMPAC Board member Vidya Kora, MD gather during the 12 Regional Campaign and Grassroots Seminar in Denver, CO.

Vidya Kora, MD of the AMPAC Board of Directors gave an update on AMPAC activity going into the 2014 elections and  Terri Folk of AMA staff demonstrated the grassroots resources available to physicians who want to influence Congress’ actions on health care policy: the Very Influential Physician (VIP) Network, the Physicians’ Grassroots Network (PGN) and the Patients’ Action Network (PAN).

A special guest for the luncheon was State Senator Irene Aguilar, MD of Denver, who reviewed Colorado’s progress in implementing the Affordable Care Act.  She also discussed the Federal waiver the state secured to redesign the state’s Medicaid system to increase access, quality and efficiency. Senator Aguilar also predicted continued stability for Colorado’s medical liability climate.  Jim Wilson of AMA staff concluded the Seminar by outlining specific ways physicians can get involved in political campaigns, as well as and the critical factors that physicians must account for when and if they decide to seek office themselves.

CMS member physicians discuss their assignment for an advocacy role-playing exercise at the AMPAC-CMS Regional Campaign Seminar on October 12, 2013 (from left, Richard Budensiek, DO, CMS President-Elect Tamaan Osbourne-Roberts, MD and Warren Johnson, MD).

The AMPAC Regional Campaign and Grassroots Seminars are designed to provide training in political campaigns and grassroots lobbying, so that physicians and friends of medicine can help advance medicine’s agenda at all levels of government.  AMPAC arranges for faculty and materials, and asks that a state medical society provide meeting space, meals and invite attendees.  The Kentucky Medical Association and the Nevada State Medical Association will co-host Seminars in 2014. If your state society would like more information on co-hosting a Regional Seminar, please contact Jim Wilson, Political Education Programs Manager, at jim.wilson@ama-assn.org

Special thanks for CMS staff for all their hard work to create a great event!

Another Successful AMPAC Federation Meeting

In concert with 53 guests from 25 states, AMPAC recently concluded the annual AMPAC Federation Meeting on September 19-20, 2013 in Washington, DC.

On September 19, AMPAC’s state guests along with the AMPAC Board of Directors made over 100 visits to Senators’ and Representatives’ offices to maintain pressure on Congress to finally repeal the outdated SGR formula.

The PAC portion of the program opened with a review of the AMPAC Campaign School from campaign strategist and longtime AMPAC faculty member Carlyle Gregory.  Next, Robert Blizzard of Public Opinion Strategies unveiled the latest edition of AMPAC’s Physicians as Candidates research project, which has sought to gauge public sentiment about physicians seeking public office.  The research, a summary of which can be found here, demonstrates that while physicians enjoy high esteem from the public as caring and problem-solving professionals, continued overwhelming concerns about jobs and the economy present a hurdle for physician candidates; voters are concerned that physicians may not have sufficient expertise to get the economy moving again.

The first day concluded with a review of the 2014 political environment by renowned political handicapper Stu Rothenberg.  September 20 featured breakout discussion on best practices for PAC fundraising tactics and strategies and concluded with a talk from fundraising expert Mike Dunn on how to best utilize policy issues in PAC fundraising pitches.

A preliminary review of the meeting evaluations indicates that the program was very well received by the state medical society attendees. Tentative dates for the 2014 AMPAC Federation Meeting should be available after the AMPAC Board meets during the AMA 2013 Interim Meeting.

AMPAC Holds Another Successful Campaign School!

AMPAC held the 2013 Campaign School April 17-21 in Arlington, Va.  26 participants included 17 physicians, 2 spouses, 3 medical students and 4 medical society staff. The School is AMPAC’s annual political “boot camp” for physicians and friends of medicine who want to become more effective campaigners for physician-friendly candidates.  As usual, the School featured a simulated campaign for public office, with each participant assigned to a team of 4-5 “staffers” who attended lectures each day and then honed their skills through exercises in vote targeting, holding a press conference, recording a radio ad, and giving a surrogate speech.

New exercises this year gave the team members practice at asking for campaign contributions and building a campaign Facebook page and Twitter feed.

The Campaign School was very well received by the 2013 attendees. When asked to rate the School, 92% of the attendees gave it a score of 9 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10.

The dates for the 2014 AMPAC Campaign School and Candidate Workshop have been announced: the Workshop will be held on Feb 14-16, and the School April 2-6.   Both programs will be held in Arlington, VA. Apply today!


AMPAC 2012 Election Wrap-up

2012 Elections
The 2012 election cycle presented some unique challenges for AMPAC and organized medicine. Congressional redistricting resulting from the 2010 Census created a number of incumbent vs. incumbent battles and new district dynamics for House races across the country. With the White House and U.S. Senate majority up for grabs, the partisan rancor intensified nationally and further contributed to one of the most contentious election seasons in history.

But despite these challenges, AMPAC played an important role for medicine in this election. Working together with state medical society PACs, AMPAC invested over $3.1 million in the 2012 cycle. This included more than $1.8 million to physician-friendly candidates for the U.S. House and Senate from both political parties.

A total of 353 AMPAC supported candidates won election/reelection and the cadre of physicians in Congress held steady at 20. AMPAC’s total win rate in the 2012 cycle was an impressive 94%.

United States Senate
Thirty-three U.S. Senate seats were up for election in 2012 – 10 were held by Republicans and 23 by Democrats. There were no special elections this cycle, but Republican Senator John Ensign resigned in 2011 and Republican Representative Dean Heller was appointed by the governor to fill the vacant seat. There were 11 open seats resulting from 10 retirements and the defeat of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar (IN) in his primary election. Ten races were considered “toss-ups” heading into Election Day. Democrats won a total of 23 seats, Republicans won eight, and Independents won two seats. Women increased their presence in the Senate to an unprecedented level of 20 members and bring with them two firsts for the upper chamber: the first Asian-American female Senator and the first openly gay Senator. The make-up of the Senate in the 113th Congress will include 45 Republicans, 53 Democrats, and two Independents. Both Independents will caucus with Democrats, resulting in a net gain of 2 seats for Democrats over the previous Congress.

House of Representatives
Republicans continue to control the U.S. House of Representatives despite failing to capture the White House or a majority in the U.S. Senate. This year’s cycle ushered in 80 new members of Congress, due in part to newly reapportioned congressional districts. The current make-up of the 113th Congress gives Republicans a majority with 234 seats to the Democrats 201.

Independent Expenditures
AMPAC executed four independent expenditure campaigns totaling over $1.1 million on behalf of Representative Nan Hayworth (R, NY-18), Representative Joe Heck (R, NV-3), Challenger Ami Bera (D, CA-7), and open seat candidate Sayed Taj (D, MI-11). All four of these candidates are physicians whose races were among the most tightly contested in the country. AMPAC conducted highly targeted activities in each race that yielded over 750,000 pieces of mail, close to 200,000 “Get Out The Vote” (GOTV) phone calls, and over 25 million views/impressions of geo-targeted online video and TV ads. These tactics were guided by polling done in advance in each district which helped identify key voting demographics where medicine’s message would carry greater impact, effectively micro-targeting AMPAC’s efforts. The strategy specifically focused on new media outlets online to communicate a positive, research-based message.

In the end, AMPAC’s hard work paid off. Heck and Bera both emerged victorious, while Hayworth and Taj mounted strong efforts but fell just short. In all four races, AMPAC activities played an important role, impacting critical voters at the margins in extremely contentious contests where literally every single vote was precious.

Partisan Communications
AMPAC sent more than 100,000 customized direct mail pieces in support of pro-medicine candidates (66 House candidates and 9 Senate candidates) in both parties. AMPAC worked closely with state medical societies to develop these campaigns, which inform AMA and state medical society members of the importance of participating in the political process.