Doctor William Cotton named Co-Chair of PAC

On Thursday, August 16, the Columbus Medical Association’s Public Policy and Political Action Committee (PAC) appointed Dr. William Cotton as the group’s new Co-Chair. Dr. Cotton has spent more than 30 years as an advocate for Ohio’s medical communities.

“I got involved with public policy shortly after I arrived in Columbus in 1987,” Dr. Cotton said. “My first really big project was representing pediatric interests when the Ohio EMS / Trauma laws were written in the early 90s.”

Through this process, Dr. Cotton says he learned the value of “developing relationships and compromising.”

  Dr. William Cotton facilitates discussion during an August 2018 Public Policy and Political Action Committee (PAC) meeting

Dr. William Cotton facilitates discussion during an August 2018 Public Policy and Political Action Committee (PAC) meeting

The inherent challenges of implementing science with politics have left many physicians feeling underrepresented in today’s political environment, where personal belief systems and ideologies are political barriers to implementing evidence based medical policies. Dr. Cotton echoes these concerns, stating that politicians, in general, are “under-informed” about medical issues.

Even though the process can be “daunting,” Dr. Cotton encourages physicians to get involved with public policy.

“Physicians interacting with their legislators can be a valuable source of reliable, scientific based medical information that legislators can use to make informed decisions,” Dr. Cotton said.

  Dr. William Cotton stands in front of the Ohio Statehouse building

Dr. William Cotton stands in front of the Ohio Statehouse building

Dr. Cotton recounted his experience with Ohio’s Youth Concussion Law.

“I was present for the initial meetings for the writing of the bill through the final form that exists today,” Dr. Cotton said.

As different stakeholder groups weighed in to the political process, he explained that chiropractors felt “left out” of the initial bill. Unsatisfied with this decision, many of them took action to reverse this condition.

“In less than a year the chiropractors used their influence to be included in a new rendition of the bill,” Dr. Cotton said. Much work needed to be done to keep legislation's focus on appropriate neurological evaluation and treatment, and not allow "turf" to become a basis for legislative decision-making.

These and other experiences have led Dr. Cotton to his position at the Columbus Medical Association. Dr. Cotton served as President of the CMA from 2012 to 2013. He has held a number of other leadership roles in central Ohio, including Medical Director of the Primary Care Centers at Nationwide Children's Hospital and Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

Dr. Cotton currently serves as co-chair for the advocacy committee at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Ohio chapter, and intends to use this experience to help lead the CMA’s Political Action Committee.

To learn more about getting involved with public policy, click here.