Having started my professional education in the early 1980’s, I have always faced difficult challenges – the undergraduate pre-med curriculum at UVA, struggling to fund my education that my widowed mother couldn’t pay for, and entering dental school when only 11% of the class was women in an environment that was unwelcoming to us. Over and over throughout the years, I was asked, “why do you want to be a dentist?!?” (with the yuck sound in their voice).
The reason? I wanted to help people and make a difference in their lives. Dentistry was where I could use my artistic manual skills to immediately relieve patients of pain, suffering, discomfort, and embarrassment. Little did I know at the start of this journey that my role would be way more just that, it would also become that of confidant, advisor, medical care resource, activist, and advocate for my patients. Many times I would have a patient disclose to me they had a health issue they didn’t know how they could afford to treat, they weren’t taking their prescriptions because they lost their insurance, or a mother was near tears talking about their young adult child suffering from mental illness with no idea what they could do to help them.
These problems affect families and individuals all over the Commonwealth and the USA. and over the years got worse until many finally got coverage through the ACA. Since the passage of the EMTALA Act by the Reagan administration, and our non-profit health insurers turning into publicly traded profit centers, medical costs and premiums have skyrocketed not only for individuals but also businesses and state and local governments. Our state budget is driven by this and the rising costs of Medicaid, 72% of which goes to pay for the long term care of our most vulnerable elderly and disabled Virginians.
Unlike the Republican lawyers in Richmond, I have given weeks of my time treating, comforting, and caring for Virginians who have no other access to care. I have sweated through Mission of Mercy clinics, late nights at local Free Clinics after long days at my private practice, soothed screaming kids with 20 abscessed, bombed-out teeth, and cared for hundred of HIV patients others in the community would not touch out of fear and ignorance. I have treated Medicaid patients at a reimbursement rate that didn’t even cover ½ of my overhead costs.
The Republican “healthcare” plan is to do nothing except create junk association policies that deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, won’t cover basic women’s health care like pregnancy and “hormone pills” (aka, birth control pills), have no guarantee of payment or requirement of plan solvency, and leave those purchasing these junk plans thousand of dollars in debt when the bills aren’t paid. This was a very common occurrence prior to the ACA. Republicans have forced unpaid care on doctors and hospitals for decades while the profit centers of the insurance and drug industries beef up their campaign funds.
How do docs and hospitals make up this lost money? By raising their costs to everyone else. It is a dysfunctional model that has turned our healthcare system into a huge profit center for the private insurance industry that scores a profit when they refuse to cover your claims. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a patient say, “my insurance won’t cover that”, I would be on a nice beach in the Caribbean right now!
But, that is why I’m running for the 58th District House of Delegates seat against incumbent Del. Rob Bell (R). Since having to give up clinical practice recently due to arthritis in my hands, I am determined to use my knowledge and experience to help people through making the right decisions in Richmond. Bell has marched lockstep in support of removing protections for pre-existing conditions and women’s health coverage by supporting those junk plans. We need real protections and reform for healthcare in this country, but starting here in Virginia can happen if you help get me to Richmond.
Please join my campaign and help me get my message out to others.