Dr. Megan Srinivas, an infectious disease expert who made a mark nationally in 2020, was a busy woman even before she became the representative for Iowa House District 30, which covers southwest Des Moines.
She contracts with various medical facilities and medical research organizations including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization through her small medical consulting business. She conducts healthcare- and health-equity-related speaking engagements and workshops across the country. Srivinas also hosts the “Stories of Care” health-themed podcast in conjunction with the CDC and American Medical Association.
With all of that going on, why would the 35-year-old Fort Dodge product add politics to the mix?
“The patients, very simple,” Srinivas said. “When I see my patients, it’s not the medical side that’s holding them back; it’s the fact that they often can’t afford their medications or it’s too expensive to be in the office and so they delayed coming in until it was so late in their disease.”
Other concerns she hears from her patients are finding reliable transportation to and from work, how they will afford food to feed their families, where they will sleep that night, or how they will pay rent that month.
“Those are all things that determine whether somebody’s leading a healthy life and those are things I can’t control with my prescription pad,” Srinivas said. “The only way I could fix those things is by fixing the systems in the real world and the only way to fix those systems is to be in office and change the policy.”
Srinivas, who won her November general election race with 63% of the vote, first ran for the Iowa House in her hometown of Fort Dodge in 2018. She narrowly lost that race and figured that was the end of her political career.
“I didn’t think I was going to run again at the time, I was just focused on doing what I needed to because the pandemic popped up and I got very busy with that,” Srinivas said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have as many [infectious disease] specialists in this state as we really truly need.”
She relocated from Fort Dodge to Des Moines during the pandemic after a local medical facility requested her help because the facility lacked an infectious disease specialist.
“It opened up the doors to me going back to some of my original work and research and, in the midst of all that, I happened to be living in a place where the representative was retiring and several people urged me to consider running at that point to kind of enact many of the things I had been talking over the last several years,” Srinivas said.
Through her legislative position, Srinivas wants to advocate for patients and use her professional expertise to help her colleagues on both sides of the aisle create and enact thoughtful legislation that benefits people.
“It’s still early—I’ve got so much to learn—but every single day, it’s a new experience of learning and growing while trying to bring in what I do know from the outside world into the Capitol,” she said.
At A Glance:
Name: Dr. Megan Srinivas
Position: Iowa Representative for District 30
Committee Assignments: Agriculture, Commerce, Judiciary, and State Government; subcommittees: House Administration and Regulation Budget (ranking member).
Residence: Des Moines
Education: Graduated from Fort Dodge High School in 2005; earned a bachelor’s degree in human evolutionary biology and three minors from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2009; earned a master’s degree in public health from Harvard in 2014; earned a doctorate of medicine from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City in 2014.
Political Experience: Ran for Iowa House in 2018; chaired President Joe Biden’s Iowa COVID Response Council.
Family: Has a partner; dog, Chuty Srivinvas
Interests: Traveling and exploring new places through food, yoga (especially hot yoga), playing volleyball and tennis, and baking when she has time.
by Ty Rushing
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