John McGoff, MD, is an emergency physician from Indiana who has spent his career running a community emergency department, serving in the Air Force National Guard, and serving in a variety of civic leadership posts. In 2008, McGoff – frustrated by the poor leadership in his district – attempted the Herculean task of unseating a 13-term congressman from his own republican party.  He lost, but not before garnering an impressive 45% of the vote. Now McGoff is back, and this time the seat is open for the taking, putting McGoff in solid position to become the second emergency physician in the House of Representatives.  

EPM: Tell us about your personal history and how that history shaped your desire to run for Congress.
Dr. John Mcgoff: My primary focus has always been medicine. I never planned for politics to be a large part of my life. Then in 1996 the coroner’s office in Indianapolis was always on the front page of the newspaper because of mismanagement and I was asked by local leaders to run for that office. I was elected and served two-terms (8 years.) During that time I was able to merge different offices that created more efficiencies and saved the taxpayers money. In 2007, I watched as our government took a surplus and turned it into a $1.5 trillion deficit. The Republicans controlled both the Executive and Legislative branches of government. Our party claims to be the party of conservative fiscal management, but during that time we had record spending and record earmarks. Locally, we had a Congressman that was missing important meetings and votes to play in celebrity golf tournaments, and that’s when I said, “Enough!”

I have a young daughter and for the first time in our country’s history we can’t promise the next generation – her generation –  a bright future. They will be saddled with incredible debt, a fragile economy, a partisan government that keeps pushing problems down the road, and a world that is more dangerous than it’s ever been.

Where do you practice medicine?
I have been practicing emergency medicine in Community Hospitals network since 1987.

What are the top issues that you feel will face the nation in the coming years?
Creating and maintaining a strong economy and returning jobs to able and willing Americans. Behind that is the healthcare crisis and its reform. The other major issue that is always in the background is security around the world. Many Americans don’t realize it, but today – more than ever – devastating events in the world can send our economy spiraling out of control and have damaging effects on every American family.

How has your experience as an emergency physician prepared you to represent your constituents and the nation at large on these issues?
As physicians we are trained to “listen” to our patients in order to heal them. Today’s elected officials must listen to their constituents’ concerns. The American people have lost confidence in their elected representative in Washington. To restore confidence in Washington – in our government – listening is a mandatory skill for future U.S. representatives. I will bring that work ethic and skill I learned as a physician to Washington.  

Given that the nation has become soured to some degree on “political insiders,” what is your political experience in getting things done?
As the Coroner for Indianapolis for eight years I learned to work within a political system to be able to merge different offices within the crime division to create more efficiencies and save taxpayer money. I know how to work with elected officials from both parties to create solutions that everyone can support.

How can emergency physicians support your candidacy if they so desire?
There are three ways that emergency physicians can support my candidacy. The first way is financially. It costs a lot to run for Congress and to get your message out. Contributions to my campaign can be made on my website The other two ways are by volunteering to make phone calls to voters, and go door-to-door in our Congressional precincts. Since time is valuable and a commodity for most physicians, making a generous contribution is the easiest. By the way, the maximum contribution allowed by law for an individual is only $2,500.

Given the continued economic pressures on the country, what healthcare reforms would you propose as a member of Congress?
Four things can be done to begin to reform our healthcare system.
1. Tort Reform. Today, it is necessary for all physicians, especially emergency physicians to practice “defensive medicine” for fear of litigation.
2. Move from employer based healthcare to individually purchased healthcare.
3. Allow health insurance to be purchased across state lines.
4. Make the patient record keeping system more effective.

What role do you see for government to improve the overall healthcare of patients seen in the emergency department?
Our government can “promote” proper healthcare and wellness programs, but it should not create regulations that mandate it. Mandates begin to infringe on personal freedoms. There can be more incentives offered by insurance plans, but the government needs to stay out of that area.

How do you believe you can be effective as an individual Member of Congress given the partisanship that we see in Washington?
There is no question that you are just ONE out of 435 members of Congress. Your effectiveness depends on how prepared you are to take on the job on Day One. I believe that as a small business owner I am prepared to address issues of the economy and jobs. As a physician I am prepared to address issues on healthcare reform. As a Brigadier General in the Air National Guard, I am prepared to address issues of national security and national defense. In addition, I am accustomed to constituent services from my eight years as the Marion County (Indianapolis) coroner.

Why do you believe you can win your election in your district in 2012?
This is my third run at Indiana’s 5th Congressional District seat. In the previous two primaries I faced a 30 year incumbent that was very entrenched in the job. In the first primary I won 45% of the vote. Recently, Congressman Burton announced he would not seek re-election and today it is an open seat. My campaign has the strongest name ID and a well established grassroots network. I am not a career politician, a recycled lobbyist or a party insider – three things voters DON’T want in their next Congressman.

Next Month: Q&A with Dr. Randy Jotte



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