Advancing the Legislative Priorities of Cardiothoracic Surgeons: The Society of Thoracic Surgeons Political Action Committee

Jess L. Thompson, Alan M. Speir, Douglas J. Mathisen, Keith S. Naunheim, Richard L. Prager, Stephen J. Lahey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In the late 1990s, several federal government health policy decisions threatened the viability of thoracic surgery as a specialty. To respond to such decisions, active participation in political processes was given extremely high priority by the Executive Committee of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS). Creation of the STS Political Action Committee (STS-PAC) in 1997 was a part of the platform of participation. The purpose of the STS-PAC is to enhance the Society's voice and stature in health care policymaking. Although the STS-PAC receives voluntary contributions from STS members, on average, only 10% of STS members contribute to the STS-PAC. For the 2015–2016 election cycle, there were 542 contributors to the STS-PAC totaling $273,000. An annual contribution of $100 from every STS member would put the STS-PAC into the top 10 for medical PACs (whereas currently it is ranked 22nd of 28 in the group of physician and dental association PACs). Despite the relatively small dollar amount the STS-PAC directs, its strategic disbursement of these dollars has yielded impressive results. For example, the STS-PAC was able to use its influence to effectively stop the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from implementing a potentially calamitous rule that would effectively end traditional global surgical payments. Other advocacy successes include providing guidance to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in developing the national coverage determination for transcatheter aortic valve replacement and structuring its complex reimbursement schedule, and ensuring that a provision was included in the bill that would give the STS National Database access to claims data. The STS-PAC is a principal component of the STS’ advocacy armamentarium. Despite the many successes of the STS-PAC, with even modest contributions by more STS members, the STS-PAC could become a leading medical PAC, and would give the STS an even stronger presence and voice in Washington, DC. Clearly, contributing to the STS-PAC provides STS members the opportunity to have a voice and an impact on health policy and the care of their patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)691-695
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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