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OMA Winter 2015 Magazine

Bend Physician Rejects Partisan Politics for a More Practical Approach SIT DOWN FOR A FEW MINUTES with newly elected State Representative, Knute Buehler, MD, and the conversation quickly turns to what’s wrong with politics. Rep. Buehler doesn’t believe the nation’s Founding Fathers envisioned so much partisan politics dominating the political discourse. “President James Madison had a quote that if we’re not careful, partisan politics would poison the fountain of liberty; he said that over 200 years ago, and I think we’re at risk of that occurring right now,” said Rep. Buehler. A Moderate Appeal Rep. Buehler ran as a moderate republican in a democratic majority district. He ran on a pro-choice and pro-marriage equality platform on one hand, while also vowing to fight to keep taxes and regulations low and limited. The Bend orthopedic surgeon says that winning by a nearly 20 percent margin in a democratic district proves his aversion to political labeling resonates with voters. “We tried to run the campaign with a very inclusive message—really staying away from those narrow political labels that have come to define our politics today. I don’t think those labels fit me, nor do they fit most of us,” added Rep. Buehler. Rep. Buehler’s interest in politics precedes his time as a physician. While attending medical school at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, he observed firsthand how the Crack and AIDS epidemics, poverty, and desperation were laying siege to that city in the mid-1980s. At the same time, he was acutely aware that health care reform was going to be a major political issue. He realized, then, he needed a broader education to help him succeed in medicine and politics. “I think medicine is that unique place where societal problems cross with real effects on individual people, and as physicians we should see how those bigger societal issues directly impact our patients' health and well-being.” Mental Health Access As a practicing physician in Oregon, Rep. Buehler says he’s seen the devastating effects of the lack of adequate mental health care in the state. He says it’s often the root cause of drug abuse, child abuse, crime, and homelessness. Rep. Buehler is concerned the Department of Justice has repeatedly called out Oregon for its inadequate mental health care system, and he supports Governor’s John Kitzhaber’s early proposals to allocate more resources to the issue. Rep. Buehler is especially concerned about the lack of pediatric mental health beds outside of the Portland area. “Say you have a middle class family here in Bend whose teenager has a mental health crisis that requires inpatient treatment; they’re placed in a facility in the Portlandmetro area and have to pay for that care out of pocket. So you not only have the stress of that kind of circumstance, but now on top of that the added stress of not having financial coverage. That’s a problem that really needs to be fixed,” said Rep. Buehler. By Ken Cole, Oregon Medical Association I think medicine is that unique place where societal problems cross with real effects on individual people, and as physicians we should see how those bigger societal issues directly impact our patients’ health and well-being.  Rep. Knute Buehler, MD, R-Bend, is vice chairman of the House Consumer Protection and Government Effectiveness Committee. He also sits on the Health Care and the Human Services and Housing committees. For more information, please contact: Rep. Knute Buehler, MD 900 Court St. NE, H-389, Salem, Oregon 97301 (503) 986-1454 [email protected] state.or.us  w ww.theOMA.org Winter 2015 13


OMA Winter 2015 Magazine
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