LACPAC SERIES: PART II
A Conversation with LACMA’s Political Action Committee (LACPAC) Chair, Dr. George Fouras
Q: Why is LACPAC so important? What do members need to know about current priorities? With the introduction of term limits several years ago, the churn of legislators has significantly increased. That means that we must perpetually seek candidates to support and form relationships to continue the mission of LACMA/ LACPAC advocacy efforts. Every year, legislation is introduced that impacts the practice of medicine and the lives of our patients. We endeavor to support incumbents and to have new legislators elected who support our mission.
As the legislative environment changes, our priorities also must adapt. More broadly we support the improvement of public health and advocate for good health policy. In addition, we are strong supporters of tort reform/ MICRA and do not support efforts of expansion of scope practices.
Q: What is the process for endorsing and supporting candidates?
LACPAC never endorses candidates. That is the purview of LACMA, and they have procedures in place for when and how to endorse a candidate. LACPAC will, however, make recommendations to the LACMA BOD regarding endorsements.
Regarding supporting candidates, there are a variety of ways this may happen. We work closely with CALPAC and coordinate our donations to campaigns with them. Our primary focus are members of the LA County Board of Supervisors and candidates/ legislators of state offices. For legislators that we have previously supported and are incumbents, we will routinely donate to their campaigns on a yearly basis. In most cases, this will allow us to attend one or more fundraisers with the legislator. For other local races, this will be discussed on a case-by-case basis with the LACPAC Board. It is common for us to host or co-host a fundraiser for a candidate that we might not normally be able to support directly. In other cases, where a seat has no incumbent and the race is contested, we will host a candidate night where interested LACPAC Board members will meet to interview candidates and then decide as to who to support and at what level. CALPAC will also seek our recommendation as to who to support in these races. Furthermore, we will almost always support any physician running for office, regardless of where in the state they are running.
Q: Are candidates typically state representatives? Are there city council, county supervisor, school board, congressional candidates LACPAC would support? What is policy relative to level of support?
Every PAC must be registered with the FPPC. As such, we are not allowed to support those running for Federal office: only local and state. In practice, this means those running for the state California Assembly, and Senate with districts in LA county along with the Board of Supervisors. We generally stay out of other local races such as city councils, school boards etc. unless there is a compelling reason for us to do so, which rarely happens. The recent Mayoral race and our support for Ms. K Bass is a notable exception.
The level of support is more variable. It will be based on how much we value the relationship. For example, does the individual sit on an important committee such as Health or Business and Professions? Are they the Chair of a committee? Every recommendation for support must be voted on and approved by the LACPAC Board. Our Director of Government Affairs, Henry Rogers, is the lead in identifying people we should support.
Q: What are any new initiatives you’re leading to motivate members to donate?
We do not have any specific initiative that we are looking at in general but do pay attention to prior authorization reform and scope of practice issues. We can never predict what is going to become a major focus of attention. Therefore, it behooves us to be proactive and to elect legislators who believe in our mission and will support our strategic goals. Ongoing support from our members is critical for us to achieve our advocacy goals. If members wait until an issue, they care about arises, it is often too late to make any meaningful impact in the voting of the legislature.
Q: What is the process for members donating?
There are several ways to donate. Perhaps the simplest would be the yearly dues statement. Second would be for them to visit our webpage at https://www.ladocs.org/get-involved/lacpac.aspx and donate there. We are hoping to have a “set it and forget it” option in the future where an individual may make monthly donations automatically.
Q: How much are you trying to raise via this current campaign drive?
Our annual budget, that comes from an allocation of LACMA dues, is roughly $35,000. Our goal is to at least raise this to $60,000. Ultimately, it would be ideal if we could reach an annual budget of $100,000.