WASHINGTON — Dr. Timothy McAvoy, an internist from Waukesha, Wisconsin, held his infant granddaughter Tuesday while standing in the Longworth House Office Building, waiting to talk to a congressional aide about increasing Medicare pay for doctors.
Facing a highly partisan Congress where Republicans have vowed to cut federal spending, McAvoy hoped his Midwestern charm, along with a dose of supporting data, would sway members to remember physicians’ cause.
“’Wisconsin nice’ is a real thing,” said McAvoy, who graduated from medical school in 1973. “Whether it will translate to the votes we need, we will have to see.”
McAvoy was one of about 350 physicians who came to Capitol Hill this week to lobby Congress on behalf of the American Medical Association. Although they left their white coats at home, they were still there as doctors. Their goal was to build support for the organization’s “Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians” — a wish list that includes a pay raise, relief from insurance company prior-authorization demands, and more federally funded residency slots to train more physicians.
The campaign motto packs a pat on the back for these medical professionals: “You took care of the nation. It’s time for the nation to take care of you.”
The AMA represents about 250,000 doctors, roughly a quarter of the U.S. physician workforce. And sending its members in droves to Washington to make their case is nothing new. But this was the first organized group effort in more than three years, because of the covid-19 pandemic.
In that time, many congressional offices have been claim …