Governor Rick Perry Speaks at PAC Luncheon

By: Elizabeth Fassbender

On Wednesday, March 2, 2016, former governor Rick Perry spoke to supporters of the Orthopaedic Political Action Committee (PAC) during the annual PAC luncheon at the 2016 AAOS Annual Meeting. Mr. Perry, who served as the 47th governor of Texas from 2000 to 2015, was a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He also served as chairman of the Republican Governors Association and had been outspoken on issues related to health care and tort reform. In addition to discussing issues like federalism, Mr. Perry reminded PAC supporters of the importance of being involved in the political process and that their engagement in the PAC is integrally important to the future of the practice of medicine.

“I promise you [that if you are not engaged in the process], the powers that are out there on the other side are going to raise the money,” Mr. Perry stated. “And when it comes time to make decisions that are going to affect your practice of medicine, you’re not going to be at the table.”

Before starting in public service, Mr. Perry was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force where he was assigned as a C-130 pilot. He explained how his background led him to work in politics and contributed to his particular interest in medical liability reform, sharing that his father-in-law was a physician and his wife is a nurse. “I have had a lifelong relationship with medicine,” Mr. Perry commented, adding that the practice of medicine has changed drastically in the last 45 years. But most important, he said, was “access to care.”

In introducing the former governor, current PAC chairman John T. Gill, MD, stressed the work that Mr. Perry did on tort reform, which Dr. Gill said “continues to work quite well and should be the model for all the states in the nation.” Dr. Gill also commented on the work the PAC has done over the past year, highlighting its goal for 2016 and the importance of getting residents involved at an early point in their career. In 2015–2016, the PAC saw a nearly 200 percent increase in resident activity.

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Former Gov. Rick Perry

Like Mr. Perry, Dr. Gill urged AAOS members to get to know their members of Congress. He highlighted the PAC’s ambitious goal and overviewed the different receipts and disbursements. AAOS President David D. Teuscher, MD, praised the recent accomplishments and thanked members for their support in all the advocacy efforts. As the only PAC dedicated solely to representing orthopaedic surgeons before Congress, Dr. Teuscher stated he is proud and excited about the direction of the PAC, adding that the work could not be done without individual AAOS members.

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Super Tuesday results
As a past presidential candidate, Mr. Perry provided PAC supporters with insight into the presidential election. Despite joking that voters don’t seem interested in a lot of experience, Mr. Perry insisted the future of America is brighter than it’s ever been. Still, he said, “we have to do the hard work of making sure that our philosophy and our values are indeed guarded.” According to Mr. Perry, we are still a ways away from knowing who the nominees will be.

The talk came just one day after the March 1 “Super Tuesday” results, which represent the biggest delegate contest of the 2016 nominating contest. Donald Trump increased his lead by seven states while Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) added three—his home state of Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska, leaving some political commentators suggesting that he may be the only candidate positioned to beat Mr. Trump. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) carried Minnesota’s caucuses. Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) is pushing forward, and recent reports indicate Ben Carson, MD, plans to end his presidential bid.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton decidedly captured seven states while Bernie Sanders took four, giving Ms. Clinton a stronger lead than the one Barack Obama had over her at this point in the 2008 presidential election. It has been noted she is beginning to run a general election campaign, indicating her confidence in securing the Democratic nomination. Still, Mr. Sanders pledged to remain in the race into June, stating that with 35 states left to vote, he will take the fight “to every one of those states.”                         

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