Health care is not just a political issue for me. It's something I live every day of my life as an Emergency Department nurse. I have the honor of working alongside real-life heroes: police officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, nurses, doctors, and other professionals in our community. Many of them are volunteers who do what they do for the love of their fellow Virginians.
We have a lot to be thankful for in the 58th District. We've got three top-notch hospitals in this area, including a level-one trauma center with a university medical and research center that's one of the very best in the country. But we could be doing a lot better. Every single Virginian deserves access to affordable, quality healthcare. And while we've made strides in that direction over the past few years, we're not there yet.
I've seen insurance companies deny potentially life-saving oncologic procedures for a pediatric patient because they were classified as "special needs." I've seen people devastated by medical bankruptcies. And I've seen people who've had to pay ten times the going rate for a procedure for the sin of having marginally decent health insurance.
I have real differences with my opponent on this issue. He repeatedly voted against the Medicaid expansion, which would have provided affordable insurance coverage for 462,000 Virginians. He also voted against requiring insurance companies to cover conditions such as autism. Too often, when I hear politicians talk about "choice," all they really mean is the freedom to choose whatever special interest groups they happen to represent.
My guiding principle is to put patient-centered, evidence-based care at the heart of all our efforts. We need to listen to families and practitioners instead of insurance-company shareholders. Since I have no faith in the ability of the federal government to fix this problem right now, we're going to have to get to work on the state level. There are far too many Virginians without access to affordable, high-quality care in their own communities. And they deserve better.