Healthcare is very important to my family. Two years ago, my husband, Joel, was diagnosed with brain cancer. We quickly learned how difficult it is to navigate the healthcare system, even when you have a wonderful medical team and employer-provided insurance. There were many anxious nights praying not only for Joel’s health but for guidance on how to move forward. At the moment, Joel is healthy and I am committed to helping other families while they face health crises.
- Continued access to quality healthcare. We need to make sure that our neighbors aren’t denied healthcare because of pre-existing conditions.Besides illnesses that occur naturally as we age, children are born with conditions that they have no control over. While we look for a non-partisan amendment or replacement to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we must continue enrollment in the ACA and Medicaid must be expanded holistically and not through block grants.
- Expanding healthcare facilities in rural areas. Healthcare providers and facilities need incentives or additional funding to maintain quality healthcare for rural Tennesseans and Americans.
- Expand dental and vision coverage under Medicare. The elderly deserve to continue eating and seeing.
- Expand the coverage of insurance policies. Not only should birth control be covered, but also durable medical devices like hearing aids which can cost thousands of dollars and impact an individual’s ability to find employment.
- Move toward a separation of healthcare from employers. In the current system if you change jobs or lose your job, you lose your health insurance. When you are unable to work because of a health crisis, losing your health insurance at the same time can create a financial crisis.
Healthcare in America is so unaffordable that medical problems contribute to 66.5% of all bankruptcies.
- No higher premiums for pre-existing conditions. Your health should not be for profit. Government should protect you, the consumer.
- Affordable option to ACA. Non-profit government-regulated health providers should give Tennesseans and Americans an affordable option through or in place of Medicaid
- Prescription Medication should be affordable. No one should go without life-saving medication. We need to ensure the availability of generics and the federal government should fund breakthroughs of new life-saving drugs to bring them to market quickly and cheaply. Medicare should be able to negotiate for lower prices for medication and birth control should be affordable for all, no matter what your income level.
Mental Health and Addiction
As a teacher, I see the impact of untreated and undertreated mental health issues. Deaths by suicide have been increasing over the last 10 years – now outpacing all other non-disease related deaths in Tennessee and across the country. Some of our rural counties have suicide rates up to 2.8 times the national average – this is a true crisis. During the same ten-year period, opioid overdoses have tripled in Tennessee. Mental Health and addiction are crises in our communities – especially our rural communities. We have to address this epidemic head on.
- Affordable, accessible mental health and addiction services. Insurance should cover affordable mental health services and pathways to recovery.
- Schools need to provide mental health and additional services. Schools need help to identify and assist students in a crisis who may exhibit suicidal thoughts or behaviors, respond appropriately when a suicide has happened in a community to prevent copy-cat behavior, and promote student mental health as part of a comprehensive approach to wellness. Students need to be taught what mental health is and given the skills to achieve it. As a teacher, I am witnessing an increase in anxiety among our youth that crosses the racial, economic, and academic achievement spectrum. Left unaddressed, this will lead to further mental health issues as our children mature into adulthood.
- Decreasing maternal mortality. The CDC reported an increase in the maternal mortality ratio in the United States from 18.8 deaths per 100,000 births to 23.8 deaths per 100,000 births between 2000 and 2014, a 26.6% increase; A study of maternal mortality in Tennessee showed that 85 percent of Tennessee maternal deaths were preventable in 2017. Rural Tennessee women need more access to quality prenatal care and quality healthcare providers. This could be overcome by expanding healthcare facilities to more rural areas.
- Affordable, accessible birth control. All studies show that abortion rates are significantly lower in areas with affordable and accessible birth control. Adequate access to birth control can eliminate abortion as a means of birth control.
- Medical marijuana should be legalized. Medical marijuana has been shown to reduce chronic pain, reduce nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy and reduce spasticity from MS. Although many states have approved marijuana for medical purposes as prescribed by a doctor, federal laws continue to make this system difficult. Medical marijuana should be further tested and made legal on a federal level.
Having an elderly mother and father that struggle daily with issues such as Parkinson’s, chronic pain from arthritis and several other incurable ailments, this would offer them much relief both physically and emotionally.