donor of the month
Arthur Ohannessian, MD, is the Family Physicians Political Action Committee (FP-PAC) April Donor of the Month! Dr. Ohannessian is a legislative Key Contact and has served on CAFP’s Los Angeles Chapter Executive Committee for the past five years. He recently was elected to the CAFP Board of Directors to represent District IV. He also serves on the Executive Committee of the AAFP Commission on Education, chairs the AAFP National Conference for Students and Residents and donates to both the state and the national PAC.
Why do you contribute to FP-PAC?
I contribute because it is an integral advocacy tool. As much as I make efforts to meet with my legislators, participate in legislative campaigns or engage in professional organizations, they all have a finite impact. FP-PAC places the Capitol behind my efforts and can create a voice that is many orders of magnitude greater than my own. In addition, corporate interests spend vast amounts on PACs that represent their shareholder's bottom line, while FP-PAC represents a constituency of health professionals and the communities they serve. FP-PAC needs our support to compete against these larger interests.
What would you say to someone who may be hesitant to contribute to a Political Action Committee?
Until we have significant campaign finance reform and public financing of elections, a PAC is the most effective way of grabbing the attention of legislators and securing a seat at the decision-making table when issues arise that directly affect your profession and the community you serve.
Less than five percent of family physicians contribute to FP-PAC. Why should more family physicians contribute?
If they want legislation that supports the tenants of family medicine and supports their profession, they need to contribute. The pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies contribute more to lobbying efforts than any other industry and you do not have to be a policy wonk to know that they receive preferential treatment by both political parties.
Have you ever attended an FP-PAC event or represented FP-PAC at a fundraiser? If so, what did you learn by attending the event?
Yes, I have attended multiple FP-PAC events in Sacramento and Los Angeles. At these mixers, I was able to communicate directly with legislators regarding the concerns of my patients and community. I found most of the legislators to be very relatable and receptive to my input as the issues raised directly affects their constituents.
What was one of the earliest advocacy or PAC activities you undertook in medicine? What was meaningful to you about that experience?
The earliest advocacy/PAC activity that I undertook was advocating for the Affordable Care Act as a resident physician. Although I felt the legislation had some flaws and was not perfect, it was a compromise bill that created an historic expansion of health services to some of the most vulnerable members of our communities and country as a whole.