MANN, A FAMILY PHYSICIAN AND FORMER STATE REPRESENTATIVE, IS RUNNING FOR A SEAT IN THE MINNESOTA SENATE.
This article originally appeared in the summer 2022 edition of Minnesota Family Physician magazine.
Alice Mann, MD, MPH, is a family physician, a former state representative, an emergency room doctor at Northfield Hospital and the Primary Care Medical Services Director for Wayside Recovery Center, where she provides mental health and addiction treatment services for women, children and families.
Mann is also an immigrant and advocate. She is passionate about providing medical care to underserved populations, both locally and around the world.
Her time in the Minnesota House from 2019 to 2020 was spurred on by her desire to make things better for her patients and address rising, unaffordable health care costs. While there, she was chief author of laws working to improve access to health care (including but not limited to the following) that:
- Decreased health care costs for families with kids with disabilities.
- Secured funding for statewide tobacco cessation services.
- Increased reimbursement rates for doula services to improve maternal health outcomes and help address maternal health disparities.
- Decreased the cost of prescription drugs by regulating pharmacy benefit managers.
Mann said that, in 2018, she ran for the Minnesota House because she “felt called to act.” She’s been called back and is running for a seat in the Minnesota Senate in District 50, representing Bloomington and Edina.
We asked Mann more about her time in the Minnesota House, why she’s now campaigning for the Minnesota Senate and why she believes it’s more important than ever for practicing physicians to get involved in politics and advocacy.
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST TAKEAWAY FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MINNESOTA HOUSE?
I had several takeaways from my first time getting involved in politics. One is the amount of time it takes to be an effective legislator. It takes a tremendous amount of time to fully understand the bills you are signing, to talk to the community, to engage stakeholders to make meaningful change, to write new bills and to disseminate appropriate, fact-based information to the masses. It truly isn’t a part-time job.
I was also disappointed at how much misinformation guides policy. Misinformation is rampant in the age of social media, and we have people who believe in things that are not based on facts or data. This is one of the many reasons why physicians and scientists need to be more involved in politics.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO NOT SEEK RE-ELECTION IN THE HOUSE?
I left the Minnesota House in 2020 because I was having a difficult time coming from the emergency room, where I would see multiple deaths in one shift (which is not normal and very traumatic), and then going back to the Capitol where there were people saying that COVID-19 wasn’t real.
I had to focus on one thing. At that time, I felt that I was most needed at the hospital. I could not increase the burden of my medical colleagues, who were all undergoing something we had never experienced in our lifetimes. Therefore, I did not seek re-election.
WHY ARE YOU CAMPAIGNING FOR THE MINNESOTA SENATE?
I had no plans to run for office again. However, the death of Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, gave me a wakeup call and compelled me to get involved again to try to make a difference and make meaningful change. I chose the Senate because there was an open Senate seat in my district.
There is a lot of work that still needs to be done. We still have people in Minnesota who cannot get care because of health care costs. We have people struggling with substance use disorders who can’t get proven treatment. We have a mental health crisis in this country without appropriate or sufficient resources.
I worked in 2019 to decrease health care costs, and I hope to continue doing that work. We have a unique perspective as physicians, having heard stories of people struggling to get care from a first-hand perspective and seeing what occurs when people do not get the care they need.
This is also the reason why physicians need to get engaged. Physicians need to meet their representatives, donate and volunteer with candidates who will protect medicine and protect the physician-patient relationship, which is the basis of good patient care and is being slowly degraded.
We have politicians who are making medical decisions for our patients, and we need to make sure that the medical decisions are left to medical providers and patients.
WHAT ARE SOME PRACTICAL WAYS FOR PRACTICING DOCS
TO GET INVOLVED IN LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY?
Physicians can volunteer with their local candidates. Local politics is more important than ever. You can donate your time and/or money.
You can make sure that your friends and families all have plans to vote. You can help arrange voting caravans and provide rides for friends and family to get to the polls and help register people to vote.
You can also talk about politics with your neighbors and friends. Your opinions matter and people listen when you share your thoughts on candidates and policies.
Run for office! School boards, city councils, state legislatures and beyond can use the experience and viewpoint of physicians.
I really believe that sitting back and not getting involved is no longer an option if we hope to preserve the art of medicine and the science of effective patient care.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
Reach out and meet your state representative and state senator and ask how you can help. You will be glad you did!
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Post author: Emie Buege, communications