donor of the month
Alexandra Hunt, MD is FP-PAC’s October Donor of the Month. She received her medical degree from the University of Washington School of Medicine and completed her residency training at Sutter Health in Sacramento/Davis. Dr. Hunt became active in health advocacy issues as a medical student. Currently, as a practicing family physician and the parent of two very young children, she is much shorter on time and says “the least I can do is fund the people who can be my voice in Sacramento.”
Why do you contribute to FP-PAC? What would you say to someone who may be hesitant to contribute to a Political Action Committee?
I am in a rural town practicing full-spectrum family medicine at a federally designated critical access hospital. I have two and four year-olds at home and started this job with a two year-old and a newborn. While I would like to be beating my feet down to the Capitol in Sacramento, it just hasn’t materialized yet. Excuses aside, the least I can do is fund the people who can be my voice in Sacramento, CA. I donate every year, but sent in a larger amount when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was being looked at for repeal. Please don’t misunderstand, the ACA needs major reforms, but I couldn't just stand by and do nothing at such a pivotal historic moment. I wouldn't be able to live with myself knowing I just stood by and watched as our health care system was radically changed without my voice being represented.
What is one of the earliest advocacy/PAC activities you undertook in medicine?
In 2009, while in medical school, I went to the Washington State Capitol in Olympia with a student group from the University of Washington committed to health reform and political issues that affect the health of low-income and other underserved communities. Our group included students from the schools of dentistry, public health, nursing, social work, medicine and other health sciences departments. Legislators were trying to find ways to incentivize medical students to choose a career in primary care. It was incredible how eager the legislators were to learn what we knew about how and why medical students chose their specialty. It was remarkable how valued our knowledge was as mere second year medical students – knowledge that we took completely for granted. It was almost shaming to see how desperate our legislators were to understand our cloistered world. All of my complaints leveled at politicians flooded my mind and suddenly seemed so irresponsible. We had assumed the difficulties facing our medical system were obvious and easy to understand, so “why couldn’t those politicians just get it right already?” As medical students, we hadn’t even started to realize how specialized our training is. And how could we? We were immersed in our training and still feeling like minnows in a vast ocean of health care delivery. Why would a legislator care what we knew? Well, they did care. At the end of the day, one of our leaders said, “Well, you can see now that if you aren’t at the table, you’re on the menu.”
Less than five percent of family physicians contribute to FP-PAC. Why should more family physicians contribute?
Our PAC is small compared to all the other industrial and special interest PACs influencing health care policy. It is a crucial time for health care policy in our nation, no matter what your political leanings are. I think we all agree that our current health care system is far from the excellent, sustainable system we all dream of. Our current system is in the spotlight for major revision, reform or revocation. As family medicine physicians, we are already the underdog in the political arena in terms of clout, money and influence. We simply must send our PAC to the capitol to be our voice: We will either be at the table or we will be on the menu.
Are you involved politically with CAFP in any other activities (key contact, committee member, national PAC donor, etc.)?
When I graduated from medical school, one of my most beloved mentors, Dr. Ramoncita Maestas, looked into my eyes with one of those soul-penetrating looks that makes the universe stand still and said, “Always stay involved in your local AFP Chapter.” She knew I would understand what she meant: the deep importance of chapter involvement to community health and the future of family medicine. I am currently looking to get involved in my local Lassen-Plumas-Modoc Chapter and CAFP has said they’ll help me with anything I need!