Universal Coverage for Healthcare
I believe that healthcare is a human right. In my first year of medical school, I learned countless lessons, but perhaps the most important was that healthcare is a human right. Working in the student run Equal Access clinic, a place where I provided care for people without insurance, was one of the most formative experiences of my career. Unfortunately, my ability to provide the best care for my patients is not entirely up to me. Many times, my plans are blocked by a for-profit insurance company denying payment for my patient’s treatment plan. The Center for Economic and Policy Research estimates America wastes over $100 Billion each year on private insurance overhead costs, more than 12 times of what Medicare spends on operating costs. The bottom line is this: insurance companies are motivated to maximize profits and bonuses for their executives, not improve our health. Our system must be improved. I think a long term aspirational goal would be a “Medicare for All” approach, but this is likely not achievable in the short term. Working to improve the ACA, ranging from stabilization of the markets to a public option to a “Medicare for All” approach, must do more than just insure all Americans, it should tackle the unsustainable rising costs of prescription medications and healthcare, and even more importantly, make us healthier and more secure. Greater access to care and a focus on prevention and finding cures of dreaded diseases, would reduce long term costs and increase our productivity and longevity. America does great things, like leaving our world and setting foot on our moon, why can’t we do great things for something as fundamental as our healthcare? If a doctor continues to use the same failing treatments over and over, a patient should find another doctor. Our leaders in Washington are elected to lead, and if they refuse to do so on healthcare, we should elect leaders who will.
I’m a proud product of public schools and my kids attend public schools. Public education is the key to our future. As a Congressman, one of my most important jobs will be to advocate for the students of this district and the teachers and schools that they learn in. It starts with providing universal pre-Kindergarten. Studies show early education sets the foundation for a lifetime of learning. Beyond early education, we have to make sure our schools have the resources and support they need to effectively teach our kids.
There’s no question that college is too expensive. As the father of three kids, I know the rapidly rising expense of college can be a barrier for many families. The average college student who graduated last year had over $25,000 in student debt, and many students have far more. The outstanding student loan debt is $1.2 trillion, held by 70 percent of college graduates. We need to increase the size of Pell Grants and the number of grants awarded to students in need so that they aren’t mortgaging their future just to graduate college. And we should make it easier for those who have already graduated with debt to refinance their student loans at more favorable rates.
As a doctor who has devoted my career to finding cures to cancer, I know just how important it is to fund critical research programs. Programs like those run by the National Institutes for Health. I work every day to find cures for my patients who are fighting cancer. Funding research is not only how we create cures and save lives, but how we can create jobs and make America a world leader in science. In Congress, I will fight hard to increase funding for research and development so we can continue to have the resources we need to save lives and boost our economy.
Our Statue of Liberty invites “your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”. We are a nation of immigrants, and we must continue to protect our people by carefully screening refugees, as we do now. Denying legal immigration hurts us today with less hardworking people and tomorrow with less people seeing America as great because America is good.
The great Texan LBJ said “the vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised”. I agree, and believe we need to expand and strengthen voting rights. The United States should have automatic voter registration, similar to Oregon’s Motor Voter system. We should also have increased early voting including nights and weekends, and make election day a national holiday. If we want to ensure our voices are heard, we should make it easier to vote.
We must enforce our laws that guarantee equal protection for all Americans, based on the 14th Amendment including the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act. As a father of two strong daughters, we must ensure that opportunities and pay are based upon merit, and not gender, race, or orientation. The Bible tells us to “love thy neighbor as thyself”, period.
“Love is love is love”. I agree with the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision that affirmed a fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry who they love, regardless of gender. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees equal protection of the law to all Americans, says “Y’all means all”.
Texas has the worst maternal death rate in the developed world, due to lack of healthcare access. This includes Texas’ refusal to expand Medicaid resulting in the highest uninsured rate in the nation, and state laws targeting women’s healthcare providers. I stand with Planned Parenthood and believe that we must stop treating it like a political football, and instead as a provider of life saving services. Fact: the only service that the government pays for Planned Parenthood is preventative care, meaning less cancer, less maternal deaths, and less teen pregnancies. I believe that a woman’s healthcare decisions should be between her and her doctor, period.
Climate Change and the Environment
The facts are clear: Climate change is real and is having real effects on America now. We must keep public pressure on the Trump administration, but we must also elect leaders who recognize that policies that keep us healthy are a priority. The Paris Accord and Clean Power Plan are based on facts and science – something sorely missing in Washington. As a scientist, I’d fight to protect our environment from partisan games.
The Second Amendment is a part of our Constitution, but that does not mean we can’t have common sense gun safety laws. We must have child access prevention laws and background checks, and allow research to be conducted to use facts when crafting any law to ensure gun safety. The Dickey Amendment, introduced in 1996, prohibits any federal funds from being used to study gun related violence. We lose more than 30,000 Americans each year from gun related deaths – and our government prohibits any research to be done. That is like the government prohibiting me from conducting research to find new cures for cancer. It makes no sense – and we need restore sanity and take a common sense approach to gun safety.
In the United States, the middle class lifestyle exists today because of the hard work and sacrifices made by labor unions. Unions are a critical part of fighting for skilled labor of all types, and I support their efforts. In America, we value hard work and should reward it. We should increase support for skills training, apprenticeships, and workers rights.
We know that America works best when it works for everyone, not just the ultra-rich. The same goes for our tax code. The plan proposed by Donald Trump and his enablers in Congress would cut taxes for their donors, leaving you footing the bill. The detail-light plan released so far would increase our debt by at least $2 trillion over the next ten years – saddling my kids and yours with this debt. We can do better.