Kevin Baumlin, former Perelman School of Medicine professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Pennsylvania Hospital, is one of two Penn affiliates running to fill Pennsylvania's open seat in the United States Senate.
Following Senator Pat Toomey's (R-Pa.) announcement in 2020 that he would not be running for re-election this year, Baumlin officially launched his campaign for Senate in April 2021. He stepped down as chair of the Emergency Medicine department, left his position in the medical school, and paused his clinical practice at the end of June 2021. The primary election will take place on May 17.
Penn students who worked with Baumlin in the classroom and on the campaign trail commended his campaign platform.
2016 College and 2021 Perelman graduate Joia Brosco said that she met Baumlin while working in the emergency department at Penn Hospital as a medical student. Brosco mentioned that during their shifts, Baumlin often talked about the importance of social determinants of health when analyzing people’s fear of going to the emergency room — an aspect of health care that is a key focus of his campaign.
“Having to make decisions with a lot of stress of responsibility is definitely something that an ER physician is doing on the daily. I think it definitely correlates with the responsibility a politician has to feel when they’re making decisions on behalf of so many,” Brosco said.
Baumlin told The Daily Pennsylvanian that his beliefs about health care became clearer during the COVID-19 pandemic and spurred his decision to leave his post and run for Senate.
“During [the pandemic], elective surgeries were canceled, and health care systems lost billions of dollars. The [current] drivers in health care are to make money and to sustain a revenue generating proposition,” Baumlin said.
He designed a three-point plan that would make health care “universal, simple, and accessible” to shift the focus in the health care industry away from monetary incentives.
College junior Celia Kreth, a former DP reporter who serves as communications coordinator for Baumlin’s campaign team, said that Baumlin's Senate campaign promotes moderate and practical solutions within his areas of focus.
“The bridge between health care and small business and economic development is very related in [Baumlin’s] mind, in the sense that promoting good jobs will come with good health care,” Kreth said.
Baumlin said that he became engaged with policy in the past through his nonprofit foundation Oak Street Initiative, a think tank that hosts panels and conversations to discuss topics such as education, health care, and minimum wage.
While Baumlin's campaign is focused around health care, which he describes as “the most important issue of our time,” he said that job creation and education are also key components of his platform that he hopes to address, if elected.
He added that a change in the health care system would drive new jobs for working-class individuals and improve the conditions of small business owners.
“The key driver for [businesses] wanting to hire new workers is the cost of health care," Baumlin said. "It’s too high. It’s too expensive, and it’s a barrier to business growth."
Conor Lamb, a former student who graduated from the College in 2006 and Penn Law School in 2009, is also running for the Senate spot.