"Everyone realizes that when you talk about presidential campaigns, you are talking about massive amounts of funding for each candidate to compete," Weinstein says. "We feel we can have a greater impact on issues affecting our patients in our profession by building relationships with members of Congress. We always consider that question for each election cycle: What do we want to do for our members? Our philosophy is that we're a bipartisan PAC. We support both Democrats and Republicans, and we are most supportive of candidates who understand what we want—appropriate access for specialty care."
Mueller, of the American Society of Anesthesiologists agrees. "Congressional races offer our members the best opportunities to fully participate in campaigns," he says. "The large scale of a presidential campaign simply doesn't offer the same meaningful experience. For the time being, we think our resources are best used where our anesthesiologists can more fully engage with the candidates."
Whether it's dealing with the "record number of drug shortages or making progress on fixing payment issues, there are members on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress who understand these issues and how they relate to our specialty," Mueller says.
At this point, the healthcare PACs are "looking for a target audience," says Dowling of the Heritage Foundation. "In this case, it's Congress. It's paying for influence."