Congressional representatives in central North Carolina are selected from Districts 4, 6, 8, 9 and 13. Map courtesy: GovTrack.us

Are you a health care worker? We’d love to hear from you. Email editor at northcarolinahealthnews.org

By Jacob Rosenberg, Mark Tosczak, Thomas Goldsmith, Yen Duong

Health care is a central issue in this year’s midterm Congressional elections.

In a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 71 percent of Americans said health care was a top issue; 30 percent said it was the single “most important” issue–a plurality. “It’s official: the 2018 midterms are about health care,” said the Wesleyan Media Project which tracks political ads nationally, announcing that nearly half of advertisements in federal races have mentioned health.

In eastern North Carolina, towns will need federal money for repairs after Hurricane’s Michael and Florence,the central area’s nearly one million Medicaid recipients will be watching the future of the Affordable Care Act (including the potential of a work requirement), and rural voters are concerned about drug overdoses.

North Carolina Health News’ Voter Guide, through a series of eight identical questions sent to each candidate (either by phone or email or in person), will help give a clear picture of each candidate’s ideas and record on health.

The questions speak to not only the economics of insurance and Medicaid, but the many ways a candidate’s health policies will affect your life: strength of rural hospitals, food stamps, suicides, drug costs, drinking water, opioid use.

For ease of access, we’ve organized the responses into sections of the state: Eastern (NC 1, NC 2, NC 3, NC 7), Western (NC 11, NC 5, NC 10, NC 12), Central (NC 4, NC 6, NC 8, NC 9, NC 13); within those sections we’ve divided answers by district. Geographic designations are imperfect: District 1, for example, spreads from Durham to the Atlantic Ocean; we’ve included it in our Eastern section. To compare an issue across the state, each question is hyperlinked to a PDF. This document will include all answers to that question—across the entire state, across every district.

Despite multiple attempts (by phone, by email, by calling district offices, by going to offices in person), many candidates did not respond to multiple requests for a response. We’ve attempted to, through campaign materials and previous votes, cull together an idea of the policies of those on your ballot. If any candidate responds after this is published, we will add their answers.

 

However, NC Health News was not alone in having difficulty getting answers from candidates; it may be a countrywide phenomenon. Doug Hardy, a local newspaper reporter from Connecticut, told us 49 of 407 candidates filled out a survey. “Some candidates appear to be avoiding reporters entirely,” he said. “Of those I have looked at — as far as I can tell — our 12 % response rate is one of the best.”

Jiquanda Johnson, editor of the Flint, Mi. publication Flint Beat, said she was seeing the same thing for state and federal candidates.

“Last year, we had better results with local elections both mayoral candidates and city council saw the value in it,” she wrote. “We may not be able to go to print this year.”

Closer to home, Matt Leclercq, from the Fayetteville Observer, said “99 percent” of candidates responded to their voter guide, but many of those were local and county candidates.

 

North Carolina District 4

NC-4

David Price (Democrat, incumbent)

David Price (Democrat, incumbent)
Photo courtesy: U.S. Congress

David Price is the longtime congressperson from Chapel Hill. He supported the Affordable Care Act, supported continuing the Seniors Health Insurance Information Program, got money for a study of a blood disorder for Chapel Hill, and has discussed how birth control is part of health care.

Price, like all Democrats from North Carolina in the House, voted against the 2017 ACA replacement supported by Congress’ Republican leadership. He’s complained about the lack of expanding Medicaid in North Carolina and said, recently: “It’s a war on health care.”

Question 1: What changes should Congress make to ensure the continuing financial viability of the Medicare and Social Security programs, especially now as many Baby Boomers are starting to retire and require services?

I am a strong supporter of Social Security, Medicare, and other social safety net programs that have helped strengthen the middle class and ensure a secure retirement for senior citizens. Under the Trump Administration and Republican-controlled Congress, I am more concerned than ever about proposals to privatize Social Security or convert Medicare into a voucher program under the guise of deficit reduction.  While balancing the federal budget is important to our nation’s economic future, spending reductions should not be made at the expense of economically disadvantaged seniors. That’s why I strongly oppose these efforts and any proposals that undermine Social Security and Medicare or otherwise threaten their long-term solvency.

That said, I believe there are various reforms we can make to both programs that would help preserve their viability without undermining their basic promise.  Raising or eliminating the taxable earnings cap for Social Security would be an obvious first step. I am also a proponent of allowing individuals aged 55 to 64 to buy into Medicare at-cost, which would strengthen both Medicare and the private insurance market by reallocating risk.

Question 2: What do you see as the future of the Affordable Care Act? What should Congress do to ensure people have access to affordable health insurance that covers all their medical needs?

  1. Studies show that getting people the dental, vision and hearing care they need helps to prevent chronic illness and can reduce future health care costs. Is this on your agenda?

The Affordable Care Act was one of the best votes I’ve ever cast, and I have fought to protect it against Republican attacks.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, over twenty million Americans have secured health coverage for the first time, and quality of care continues to improve for everyone who is insured, regardless of their insurer. We must now build on the success of the ACA by allowing it to work as intended, expanding Medicaid in states like North Carolina and providing cost-sharing reductions to insurers. I will also continue to work with my colleagues in a bipartisan manner to make more common-sense reforms to our health care system.

Ensuring all Americans have access to dental, vision, and hearing services remains a public health imperative. As a co-founder of the Congressional Vision Caucus and a member of the Congressional Hearing Caucus, I am dedicated to funding and strengthening policy on vision and hearing-related programs. It is also crucial for the federal government to provide funding for research, prevention, and public health priorities, including access to treatment and rehabilitation. Additionally, I have cosponsored the Action for Dental Health Act, which would establish federal grant programs to bring dental care to people who need it.

Question 3: What needs to happen to ensure people living in rural areas have access to adequate health care, physicians and hospital services?

  1.      Rural hospitals, as they’ve existed since the end of WWII, might not  always the best way to provide rural health care anymore, but what comes in their place and what are you doing to make that happen?
  2.     What federal policies could be created to enhance the role of telemedicine?

I agree that Congress needs to address the issue of an inadequate access to rural health care. As a Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have supported increased funding for various loan forgiveness programs for future health care professionals, including doctors, dentists, and nurses. I also believe that Congress needs to provide robust funding for federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), which can fill in the gaps between rural hospitals.

The Veterans Health Administration has done well incorporating telemedicine models into their health system, and I believe that it is something that private insurers should be working towards as well.

Question 4: How do you think the country’s food stamps system is working? Any changes you’d push for?

I believe that we should provide the resources needed to meet the growing demand for nutrition assistance by children and low-to-moderate income families, particularly in the midst of our nation’s current economic challenges.  More than ever, I recognize the importance of providing vulnerable populations with access to nutritious meals and support for their health and well-being, which is why I have advocated for robust funding for programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). SNAP is the cornerstone of federal nutrition programs and provides an important safety net for more than 47 million low-income individuals, nearly half of whom are children. Unfortunately, House Republicans included changes to SNAP in their version of the 2018 Farm Bill that would have significantly reduced benefits for Americans all over the country and instead redirect that money to untested, state-implemented work programs. Because of this, I voted against the Farm Bill and have advocated for changes in the Farm Bill that will preserve the integrity of the program and the benefits they provide to American families.

As we seek to combat food insecurity more comprehensively, there are other promising approaches that could complement SNAP and other family-based benefits programs.  I am a strong supporter, for example, of efforts to make school breakfast and lunch universally available at no cost and to remove the stigma associated with reduced-price school meals.

Question 5:  Drug costs for regular Americans just keep rising. Do you have ideas for specific legislation to bring prices under control and/ or make pharmaceuticals more affordable for consumers? If so, what will it call for?

I believe we must ensure that every American family has access to affordable medications to support their health needs.  The rising cost of prescription drugs and therapies, as well as the actions of some pharmaceutical manufacturers to dramatically and unfairly increase drug prices, requires a concerted response from Congress and the Administration.  No American should ever have to break the bank for lifesaving care. Despite his promises to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, President Trump’s administration has done nothing to hold drug companies accountable or to negotiate lower prices for consumers. In fact, since President Trump took office, 16 of the 20 best-selling prescription drugs in the United States have increased in price, 14 of those have increased by double digit percentages, and 11 have increased by more than 15 percent!  These increases in drug prices have cost the federal government billions of dollars in Medicare Part D spending.

It is my belief that the Department of Health and Human Services should utilize the purchasing power of the Medicare program to negotiate volume discounts on pharmaceuticals for seniors. The failure to provide this authority was one of the major flaws of the legislation which created the Part D benefit, and I’ve been working to correct it ever since.  Currently, there are several efforts in Congress to address this concern, including the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (H.R. 1480) and the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act (H.R. 242).

Question 6: What should the federal government do to protect drinking water North Carolinians rely on from contamination by unregulated chemicals, in these and other locations? Is it time to re-examine the Clean Water Act, which is more than four decades old?

I believe in the wise stewardship of our natural resources and am a strong supporter of efforts to protect the environment and public health.  We must continue to build on our important environmental laws – like the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Clean Air Act (CAA) – to ensure a cleaner and healthier environment for future generations. The Clean Water Act was enacted in 1972 in response to heavy contamination brought on by an increase in pollution from industrial manufacturers. Waterways and public health alike were suffering from industrial waste, with the Cuyahoga River notably erupting in flames in 1969.

Despite decades of progress, President Trump has unfortunately rescinded important provisions of this law, specifically the Stream Protection Rule, which was implemented to protect surface and groundwater from coal mining pollution. Additionally, Republicans have attempted time and time again, often through Appropriations riders, to withdraw the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule, which protected the waterways such as intermittent, headwater, and ephemeral streams, sources that provide drinking water to millions of Americans. I have opposed these attempts and believe that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should be empowered to administer the CWA and CAA to best protect Americans.  I am also the author of legislation that would promote the installation of cleaner waste management technologies on hog farms, which pose a threat to water quality.

Question 7: What measures would you support to reduce gun deaths, both accidental, intentional and those from suicide?

With each deadly shooting that occurs, the need for common-sense reforms to our nation’s gun laws grows more urgent—and Congress’s failure to reform them grows more shameful.  It has now been more than five years since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut—five years in which Charleston, San Bernardino, Orlando, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Parkland, Santa Fe, and others have joined the growing list of communities victimized by mass shootings, as well as the much longer list of communities that experience gun violence as a daily epidemic.

As a Vice Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force of the House Democratic Caucus, I have helped lead the fight in Congress to respond to the gun violence epidemic facing our country.  I am a cosponsor of legislation to reinstate the ban on military-style assault weapons (H.R. 5087), to establish truly universal background checks (H.R. 4240), to ban the use of so-called “bump stocks” (H.R. 3947), to expand the use of gun violence restraining orders (H.R. 2598), and to establish a Select Committee on Gun Violence Prevention (H. Res. 367), among other initiatives.  Unfortunately, the Republican majority has refused to bring any of these bills—or any other meaningful gun violence prevention measure—to the floor for a vote.

I have also used my position as North Carolina’s only member of the Appropriations Committee to advance gun violence reforms through the annual appropriations process.  For years, the spending bill that funds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has prevented the agency from conducting research into the causes and consequences of gun violence, and for years I have led an annual effort to advocate for the repeal of this prohibition, which is known as the “Dickey Amendment.”  I’m pleased to report that the fiscal year (FY) 2018 spending legislation finally allows CDC to conduct this potentially life-saving research.

Most recently, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment I offered to clarify that states and localities may use federal funds to implement and administer Extreme Risk Protection Order laws, which create a mechanism for law enforcement officials to temporarily remove an individual’s firearms in the face of credible concerns that they could use them to do harm.  Currently, eight states have implemented such laws, and several more, including North Carolina, are considering them.

I am hopeful that these modest breakthroughs are a sign of the tide finally turning in the wake of the Parkland tragedy and the subsequent advocacy of its survivors, which has brought a renewed sense of urgency and purpose to this debate.  I will continue fighting as hard as I know how to demand action against gun violence, in solidarity with the many victims and families who have been touched by this issue over the years, and with the students around the country who have raised their voices to proclaim, “never again!”

Question 8: What should the federal government’s response to the opioid overdose crisis Include? What could Congress do to reduce the amount of fentanyl coming through the mail from places like China?

Opioid overdose is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, with the CDC estimating that, on average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.  Deaths from prescription drugs or illicit opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and more Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do from motor vehicle accidents.  This issue has been particularly important in the state of North Carolina, with some studies suggesting that Wilmington is one of the leading cities in America for opioid abuse.

I have worked with my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to allocate substantial funding for research and rehabilitation services to diminish the severity of the opioid epidemic.  Last Congress, I was in strong support of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act that President Obama signed into law. CARA is a sweeping package that improves access to naloxone, expands access to medication-assistant treatment for those in recovery, improves treatment for pregnant and postpartum women, and establishes several grant programs to allow states to address the crisis in a unique way.

Congress recently passed H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, with my support.  This bipartisan package of opioid-related provisions included a number of priorities that will expand access to treatment and make long-term progress in addressing the opioid epidemic.  It included a provision that strengthens the ability of the FDA to take action against illicit controlled substances coming in through International Mail Facilities, as well as a provision that requires the United States Postal Service to collect electronic information on merchandise arriving in our country, allowing customs officers to screen parcels for fentanyl and other opioids.  I’m also proud of the leadership Governor Roy Cooper has displayed to address this crisis, including serving on the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, and will continue to support his efforts to tackle this challenge.

 

Barbara Howe (Libertarian)

Barbara Howe (Libertarian)
Photo Courtesy: BarbaraHowe.net

Barbara Howe has worked with the Libertarian party in North Carolina for many years, running for U.S. Senate in 1998; Governor in 2000, 2004, and 2012; NC House District 32 in 2010; and NC Senate District 20 in 2016.

Her website does not mention health care.

Question 1: What changes should Congress make to ensure the continuing financial viability of the Medicare and Social Security programs, especially now as many Baby Boomers are starting to retire and require services?

Medicare and Social Security were flawed ideas from the start. The only possible solution is to gradually wean ourselves off the programs and allow individuals to retake charge of their retirement and their health care. The transition may be painful, but it is necessary. We should do all we can to honor the commitments to those who have been paying into the programs, but we need to start as soon as possible to end the program for current young taxpayers.

Question 2: What do you see as the future of the Affordable Care Act? What should Congress do to ensure people have access to affordable health insurance that covers all their medical needs?

The Affordable Care Act was a colossal mistake. Federal government meddling in the health care industry has caused health care costs to rise astronomically. We must do everything we can do to get healthcare decisions back into the hands of individuals and their medical providers and out of the hands of insurance companies and politicians. To that end, individuals should be able to buy insurance policies that are designed for their needs, not c overages mandated by government. The medical field should be less regulated, so that individuals can get simple medical needs through a multitude of healthcare providers such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants and leave doctors to the big problems.

I agree that preventive care is a great way to keep down healthcare costs, but that is the responsibility of individuals, not government.

Question 3: What needs to happen to ensure people living in rural areas have access to adequate health care, physicians and hospital services?

It is not the government’s role to ensure that everyone have access to healthcare, but if the government would get out of the way, a truly free market heathcare system could offer much greater opportunity for most people to have access to adequate healthcare. As you mention in your question, telemedicine will be a greater part of our future healthcare system. The best thing government can do is to get out of the way and let the market blossom.

Question 4: How do you think the country’s food stamps system is working? Any changes you’d push for?

The food stamps system is working to keep people dependent on government. I would work to scale back the food stamp program to offer temporary assistance in only the direst of situations. I would much rather see private churches and charities provide this kind of aid. They are more efficient and their work is voluntary.

Question 5:  Drug costs for regular Americans just keep rising. Do you have ideas for specific legislation to bring prices under control and/ or make pharmaceuticals more affordable for consumers? If so, what will it call for?

Once again, it’s government meddling that has exacerbated the costs of drugs. My first step would be to work to end the Food and Drug Administration. See Dr. Mary Ruwart’s Death By Regulation to learn more about my stance on this policy.

Question 6: What should the federal government do to protect drinking water North Carolinians rely on from contamination by unregulated chemicals, in these and other locations? Is it time to re-examine the Clean Water Act, which is more than four decades old?

Protecting the environment is one of the trickiest problems we face as a society. We all want and need clean water and air. Restructuring the law is an absolute must. The Libertarian solution to these issues has always been advocating for strong protections of property rights and holding polluters responsible for the damage they do.

Question 7: What measures would you support to reduce gun deaths, both accidental, intentional and those from suicide?

If you are asking do I support greater efforts at gun control, the answer is no. I believe unapologetically in every individual’s right to self defense and the right to own the tools needful to exercise that right. Gun deaths are, indeed, sad, but there is no law that we can enact that will prevent them.

Question 8: What should the federal government’s response to the opioid overdose crisis Include? What could Congress do to reduce the amount of fentanyl coming through the mail from places like China?

I’ll sound like a broken record. It’s government involvement in the use of prescription drugs that has exacerbated the problems we are currently facing. Doctors and patients should be making healthcare decisions, not politicians and bureaucrats. I have read where France has taken a less regulatory approach to pain meds and they have dramatically decreased opioid deaths. The US should do the same.

 

Steve A. Von Loor (Republican)

Steve A. Von Loor (Republican)
Photo Courtesy: Steve A. Von Loor / Twitter page

Steve Von Loor hasn’t made health care a priority on his website. However, Von Loor has made mental health for veterans a priority (and tweeted a bit about it).

He’s anti-abortion (see here) and has discussed de-funding Planned Parenthood.

The GOP no longer backs Von Loor after allegations of abuse were made by his ex-wife.

Question 1: What changes should Congress make to ensure the continuing financial viability of the Medicare and Social Security programs, especially now as many Baby Boomers are starting to retire and require services?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 2: What do you see as the future of the Affordable Care Act? What should Congress do to ensure people have access to affordable health insurance that covers all their medical needs?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 3: What needs to happen to ensure people living in rural areas have access to adequate health care, physicians and hospital services?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 4: How do you think the country’s food stamps system is working? Any changes you’d push for?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 5:  Drug costs for regular Americans just keep rising. Do you have ideas for specific legislation to bring prices under control and/ or make pharmaceuticals more affordable for consumers? If so, what will it call for?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 6: What should the federal government do to protect drinking water North Carolinians rely on from contamination by unregulated chemicals, in these and other locations? Is it time to re-examine the Clean Water Act, which is more than four decades old?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 7: What measures would you support to reduce gun deaths, both accidental, intentional and those from suicide?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 8: What should the federal government’s response to the opioid overdose crisis Include? What could Congress do to reduce the amount of fentanyl coming through the mail from places like China?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

 

North Carolina District 6

NC-6

Mark Walker (Republican, incumbent)

Mark Walker (Republican, incumbent)
Photo courtesy: Walker4NC.com

Mark Walker sits on the powerful Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits, and Administrative Rules. He’s actively spoken on the opioid crisis, recently launching a video series focusing on opioids which include stories of recovery and his ideas for responding to the crisis. He has supported legislation to increase access to treatment which was signed into law in October.

Walker’s record is rife with statements on health care: he has come out against universal health care, for the 2017 House bill replacing Affordable Care Act, against the ACA. He’s well known for approving of the Trump health care bill after the administration added block grants, anti-abortion measures, and a work requirement for Medicaid.

Question 1: What changes should Congress make to ensure the continuing financial viability of the Medicare and Social Security programs, especially now as many Baby Boomers are starting to retire and require services?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 2: What do you see as the future of the Affordable Care Act? What should Congress do to ensure people have access to affordable health insurance that covers all their medical needs?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 3: What needs to happen to ensure people living in rural areas have access to adequate health care, physicians and hospital services?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 4: How do you think the country’s food stamps system is working? Any changes you’d push for?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 5:  Drug costs for regular Americans just keep rising. Do you have ideas for specific legislation to bring prices under control and/ or make pharmaceuticals more affordable for consumers? If so, what will it call for?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 6: What should the federal government do to protect drinking water North Carolinians rely on from contamination by unregulated chemicals, in these and other locations? Is it time to re-examine the Clean Water Act, which is more than four decades old?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 7: What measures would you support to reduce gun deaths, both accidental, intentional and those from suicide?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 8: What should the federal government’s response to the opioid overdose crisis Include? What could Congress do to reduce the amount of fentanyl coming through the mail from places like China?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

 

Ryan Watts (Democrat)

Ryan Watts (Democrat)
Photo courtesy: Ryan Watts (@Watts4Congress) twitter page

Ryan Watts is a 27-year-old from Burlington and consultant (Deloitte, previously IBM).

He’s been endorsed by Prescription Justice and wants to bring down high drug prices. He’s tweeted frequently about health care. His website’s health care section is sparse, but in the single paragraph on the page, he says he supports offering Medicare as a public option.

Question 1: What changes should Congress make to ensure the continuing financial viability of the Medicare and Social Security programs, especially now as many Baby Boomers are starting to retire and require services?

We should lift the cap on contributions into both these programs, above the $127,000 limit. Wealthy and high income Americans should pay their fair share into these programs to ensure viability for decades to come.

Question 2: What do you see as the future of the Affordable Care Act? What should Congress do to ensure people have access to affordable health insurance that covers all their medical needs?

We should strengthen the ACA, guarantee protections for pre-existing conditions and offer Medicare as a public option within the ACA exchange in order to challenge our for profit insurers to offer better plans at better rates, while creating competition in the health insurance market.

Question 3: What needs to happen to ensure people living in rural areas have access to adequate health care, physicians and hospital services?

We must stop taking funding away from community healthcare providers, and re-evaluate how we reimburse providers. Currently, there is little incentive to work in rural areas because the reimbursement rates are so much higher in urban areas. We should ensure adequate reimbursement rates in rural areas to encourage more practitioners to work in rural areas. Many doctors come from rural areas and would love to work where they came from. Unfortunately, many move away because of the lucrative money to be made in more urban places. Let’s change that.

Question 4: How do you think the country’s food stamps system is working? Any changes you’d push for?

SNAP is a very successful program. Most families that take SNAP benefits end up never needing them again. It’s the leg up people need. Is there abuse in the system? Sure. But the proposals of the Republican party and of my opponent would harm struggling families and prevent very little abuse of the system – which is low to begin with. There are things we can do to reduce abuse, without harming families who are struggling to make ends meet. We must also lead with empathy.

Question 5:  Drug costs for regular Americans just keep rising. Do you have ideas for specific legislation to bring prices under control and/ or make pharmaceuticals more affordable for consumers? If so, what will it call for?

Let’s start by taking steps toward eliminating the ability of corporate special interests to influence our politicians. My opponent takes thousands from the pharmaceutical industry, and therefore has taken less than zero steps towards reducing drug prices. I’m for competition in this space. I also support allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. I’m proud to be endorsed by Prescription Justice.

Question 6: What should the federal government do to protect drinking water North Carolinians rely on from contamination by unregulated chemicals, in these and other locations? Is it time to re-examine the Clean Water Act, which is more than four decades old?

We should ensure that the EPA is well funded and has the resources to monitor drinking water and ground water throughout the country. Coal ash ponds have flooded and are polluting our drinking water throughout the state. Companies like Duke Energy must be held accountable for their pollution. We must also modernize the Clean Water & Clean AIr Act, and invest in green energy that can bring about a new era of economic revolution that would spur job growth in the green economy of the future.

Question 7: What measures would you support to reduce gun deaths, both accidental, intentional and those from suicide?

We should re-evaluate the age to purchase a weapon, require universal background checks that connect to the FBI Terror Watch List, and ban high capacity magazines, bump stocks, and military grade silencers. The Republicans in the mid-90’s supported banning assault weapons, and I think it’s time we agree that we should move in that direction again. Finally, we should empower law enforcement to confiscate all firearms from households in crisis (e.g., suicide threat, domestic abuse, etc.)

Question 8: What should the federal government’s response to the opioid overdose crisis Include? What could Congress do to reduce the amount of fentanyl coming through the mail from places like China?

It must heavily invest in treatment and prevention, starting with our school system. But we should also evaluate medicinal cannabis as an alternative to the highly addictive opioids that pharmaceutical companies have flooded our streets with.

 

North Carolina District 8

NC-8

Richard Hudson (Republican, incumbent)

Richard Hudson (Republican, incumbent)
Photo courtesy: U.S. Congress

Richard Hudson sits on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and, proudly says on the website he’s used the position “to fight to replace Obamacare with a healthcare system that puts patients first.”

From that committee position, Hudson has been involved in multiple votes and debates on health issues including: the opioid crisis, veterans’ health, rates for health insurance.

He was the sponsor of H.R. 304, which made it possible for emergency personnel to administer drugs such as narcotics and anti-seizure medications. You can see all his bills here.

Question 1: What changes should Congress make to ensure the continuing financial viability of the Medicare and Social Security programs, especially now as many Baby Boomers are starting to retire and require services?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 2: What do you see as the future of the Affordable Care Act? What should Congress do to ensure people have access to affordable health insurance that covers all their medical needs?

Hudson, from website on Oct. 25

As a leader on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health — the epicenter of health care reform — I have worked with my colleagues to provide patients with the best possible health care system, encourage medical innovation and advanced research, support our medical practitioners, and create better pathways for new cures to find their way to patients.

Last Congress, an Energy and Commerce led health initiative called the 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law. This innovative and bipartisan package of health care legislation advances the discovery, development, and delivery of life-saving treatments and cures.

I believe that patients receive the best health care when their providers can counsel them on their health care choices and together the patient and provider decide on the best treatment plan, not when a government bureaucrat in Washington sets care standards. For this reason, I strongly support efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

Question 3: What needs to happen to ensure people living in rural areas have access to adequate health care, physicians and hospital services?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 4: How do you think the country’s food stamps system is working? Any changes you’d push for?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 5:  Drug costs for regular Americans just keep rising. Do you have ideas for specific legislation to bring prices under control and/ or make pharmaceuticals more affordable for consumers? If so, what will it call for?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 6: What should the federal government do to protect drinking water North Carolinians rely on from contamination by unregulated chemicals, in these and other locations? Is it time to re-examine the Clean Water Act, which is more than four decades old?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 7: What measures would you support to reduce gun deaths, both accidental, intentional and those from suicide?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 8: What should the federal government’s response to the opioid overdose crisis Include? What could Congress do to reduce the amount of fentanyl coming through the mail from places like China?

Hudson press release, Sept. 28, after passage of bills he sponsored,

Securing Opioids and Unused Narcotics with Deliberate (SOUND) Disposal and Packaging Act (H.R. 5687), the Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act (H.R. 5041), and the Education for Disposal of Unused (EDU) Opioids Act (H.R. 5714), part of H.R. 6, a package of legislation to combat the opioid crisis:

“I’ve met and spoken with countless people who became addicted to pain pills they took from the family medicine cabinet. In fact, the majority of people who have misused prescription pain relievers first got them from their own medicine cabinets or from their friend’s or relative’s medicine cabinets. This is the front line in our all-hands-on-deck fight to end the opioid crisis.”

 

Frank McNeill (Democrat)

Frank McNeill (Democrat)
Photo Courtesy: McNeill4Congres.com

One-time mayor of Aberdeen and owner of a small oil business, Frank McNeill supports, “more affordable healthcare.” His specific point is “ending the law that keeps our government from negotiating with drug companies on Medicare prices.”

McNeill says he wants to support Medicaid by ending tax cuts to the rich. “I haven’t seen any proposals to really try to rein in the cost of health care,” McNeill told the N&O of Congress’s lack of action around many issues.

“Health care has gotten more expensive and coverage is not as good,” he said.

Question 1: What changes should Congress make to ensure the continuing financial viability of the Medicare and Social Security programs, especially now as many Baby Boomers are starting to retire and require services?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 2: What do you see as the future of the Affordable Care Act? What should Congress do to ensure people have access to affordable health insurance that covers all their medical needs?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 3: What needs to happen to ensure people living in rural areas have access to adequate health care, physicians and hospital services?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 4: How do you think the country’s food stamps system is working? Any changes you’d push for?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 5: Drug costs for regular Americans just keep rising. Do you have ideas for specific legislation to bring prices under control and/ or make pharmaceuticals more affordable for consumers? If so, what will it call for?

McNeill didn’t answer our repeated calls and emails. But his campaign site included this statement: The cost of healthcare remains sky high. Prescription costs continue to climb, hurting seniors and those most in need. It’s a sad day when I see a simple Epi-Pen that a child needs cost $600 while the executives of that company make millions off of the very medication that could save a child’s life. I am fighting to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, by ending the law that keeps our government from negotiating with drug companies on Medicare prices.

Question 6: What should the federal government do to protect drinking water North Carolinians rely on from contamination by unregulated chemicals, in these and other locations? Is it time to re-examine the Clean Water Act, which is more than four decades old?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 7: What measures would you support to reduce gun deaths, both accidental, intentional and those from suicide?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 8: What should the federal government’s response to the opioid overdose crisis Include? What could Congress do to reduce the amount of fentanyl coming through the mail from places like China?

McNeill didn’t answer our repeated calls and emails. But he tweeted Oct. 22, in response to news that Stanly County ranked first in the state for opioid overdoses:

1/ With so much to be proud of in this district, this is not one of them. I have pledged from day 1 to work w/ groups on the ground to stomp out this epidemic. I will never accept money  from drug manufacturers; in fact one of my top priorities will be prosecuting big Pharma companies

2/ for lying about the addictive qualities of their drugs. We can solve this problem, but it’s going to take all hands on deck working very hard.

 

North Carolina District 9

NC-9

Mark Harris (Republican)

Mark Harris (Republican)
Photo courtesy: Mark Harris (MarkHarrisNC9) Twitter page

Mark Harris’s health care plan, according to his website, is to repeal Obamare.. “We need reform that is market based and patient driven that would foster competition and empower individuals,” his website states.

In 2013, he wondered if it was a “healthy choice” for women to have careers and he was active in the 2012 campaign to amend the North Carolina constitution to define marriage as “between one man and one woman.”

This year, in the primary, he knocked off the incumbent Republican, Robert Pittenger, who had held the position for three terms.

Question 1: What changes should Congress make to ensure the continuing financial viability of the Medicare and Social Security programs, especially now as many Baby Boomers are starting to retire and require services?

The first thing we’ve got to state upfront is that we cannot and will not cut benefits for our seniors for Social Security and Medicare. [For] anyone that is receiving it [or] nearing retirement, we’ve got to make sure that the plan is solid. I do believe that there’s going to be an overhaul [for] a graduated type of system for those that are much younger, that will probably be put in place to make sure that it’s solvent.  As I understand, left untouched, [Social Security] goes broke in 2032. Medicare much sooner than that, maybe 2028, it would go broke.

[For] everybody who’s paid into this system, it is their money [and] we’ve got to make sure that it’s cared for and that they can receive it back. We will need to look at the future of it in terms of options that those in their 20s and early 30s now would have about their participation, to really keep it solvent. We’ve got to make sure  our first commitment is that we protect our seniors now, without any cuts to Social Security or Medicare.

Question 2: What do you see as the future of the Affordable Care Act? What should Congress do to ensure people have access to affordable health insurance that covers all their medical needs?

I think we are seeing the Affordable Care Act implode on its own, there’s already been some changes that have been pretty dramatic, that I think certainly limit the future of it. One being the repeal of the individual mandate.

I hope the future for healthcare […is] based much more on the free market, [and] that it would be a system where it is affordable and individuals can get access to it. There’s three things that we thought were key: one was to allow folks to be able to purchase their health care plans across state lines, which would open it up to more competition among the insurance companies. Second, there would be a cap placed on medical malpractice suits that continue to drive up the cost of healthcare. And then third, there would be a plan whereby health savings accounts would be the centerpiece, with tax credits for those that are setting aside health savings accounts and for employers that are able to provide money into health savings accounts for their employees. I think that is going to be the future of healthcare to make it accessible to everybody.

Do you think at all about where dental vision and hearing care fits into this?

[Dental, vision, and hearing care] will probably continue to be add-ons and an option that people will be able to get. Having the insurance companies compete with their policies for that coverage certainly can continue to bring down the cost. I don’t think those will be a part of the comprehensive medical insurance plan in the near future.

Question 3: What needs to happen to ensure people living in rural areas have access to adequate health care, physicians and hospital services?

We are seeing more and more of that take place, as satellite hospitals are being built by companies that are going out to those areas and opening up emergency rooms and emergency care, as well as [doing] some simple procedures. Novant has done that as well as Atrium. I think that those businesses are certainly seeing the need to do that and to get access to those individuals. And that’s certainly something that we would want to continue to encourage and help these companies as they seek to do that.

Question 4: How do you think the country’s food stamps system is working? Any changes you’d push for?

There’s a proposal that has been on the table with the farm bill that would require individuals that are physically able to either be getting a job, in school, or in job training in order to continue to receive food stamps. I think that was a great proposal, [but I’m] not sure that it’s going to actually pass. I think the Democrats have somewhat held that up over that one issue. I’m not quite sure what the future of that holds.

I think the goal is for people that are on food stamps to not be reliant on them and to get off of them eventually. That should be the goal of any of our programs, for folks that are physically able to work. I think that is probably something that will come in the future, and I certainly would be in favor of.

Question 5:  Drug costs for regular Americans just keep rising. Do you have ideas for specific legislation to bring prices under control and/ or make pharmaceuticals more affordable for consumers? If so, what will it call for?

I think that we [need to] break up the pharmaceutical industry that’s had somewhat of a monopoly on the pricing of so many of these drugs. There’s a backlog of medications that, if I understand it, get out there, but it takes forever to get approval for them. The more that we have out there that can be prescribed […and] the more competition, the more the price comes down.

I personally have always, when at all possible, [bought] the generic. If there’s a generic brand for the drug to that been prescribed, that’s always an option that I personally try to use.

Drug prices have continued to skyrocket, and average Americans have a hard time getting those. I think that would be one of the ways to begin to bring some of the pricing down: a quicker process of approval.

Question 6: What should the federal government do to protect drinking water North Carolinians rely on from contamination by unregulated chemicals, in these and other locations? Is it time to re-examine the Clean Water Act, which is more than four decades old?

We need to educate all of our people, not only North Carolina, but throughout the nation, on these issues of our environment, and making sure that we’re all being good stewards.

I’m not a fan of more regulations. I recycle and my family recycles, not because we’re told to by any regulation or law but because we choose to.  We want to be good stewards of our environment, this creation that God has created and given us. I think the answer [is] to educate and make sure that everybody knows and understands what’s happening in terms of our drinking water and has the facts. That’s the most important aspect of it.

So is there anything you’d say we should do about like DuPont and Chemours, chemical contamination of air and drinking water in the Cape Fear River, or, you know, Guilford County Schools where you have lead in their water.

I believe when there are situations that show up like that, those local governments and our state government needs to look at those and put things in place. I believe that you need to set laws and set enforcements and govern the closest to home as you possibly can. And I think empowering state and local to do those things is perfectly fine.

I’m not a fan of Washington setting laws, oftentimes that have unintended consequences to other parts and other regions.

Question 7: What measures would you support to reduce gun deaths, both accidental, intentional and those from suicide?

My position has always been that we don’t need more gun laws, per se, in order to prevent injury and prevent the kind of things that that we see happening in so many of these mass shootings. I just don’t believe gun laws would solve that problem. Some of the cities in our nation that have some of the strictest gun laws have some of the greatest gun violence, and I think there’s a connection there.

I do believe in education, I believe that it’s important for people to know how to handle a firearm, and when they know how to handle it, and they’re certified to handle it, then obviously, they are far less likely to harm themselves or accidentally harm someone else. It needs to be far more a process of education of individuals in order to protect themselves and protect those right around them. But I do really believe that gun laws we have in place are more than adequate to prevent the misuse of firearms

Question 8: What should the federal government’s response to the opioid overdose crisis Include? What could Congress do to reduce the amount of fentanyl coming through the mail from places like China?

There has been a bill that was passed recently that put a large sum of money toward the opioid crisis primarily in making sure that we go after these individuals that are perpetrating this massive problem [by] over prescribing, and folks are overusing them. It’s a very difficult balance, because unfortunately, the actions of people who have abused the system now has caused a bit of a reaction that is causing individuals who are in serious pain […] to find it far more difficult to get the treatment and the help that they need. I do think that there’s a balancing act that needs to be done.

But I think we need to come back to educating people and do a better job of educating young people on the risks. Not only young people, but all people: educating them in how the use of opioids for a simple surgery recovery gets out of hand if they’re not careful. I’ve met plenty of people on the campaign trail, and frankly, plenty of people throughout 30 years as a pastor who have fallen into the trap. It’s very sad, very sad, when that happens. I think we do need to do a better job of educating people on the dangers of use and abuse of opioids.

Dan McCready (Democrat)

Dan McCready (Democrat)
Photo courtesy: DanMcCready.com

Dan McCready is a 34-year-old solar energy businessman who wants to change Obamacare but not to a single-payer system.

“Obamacare is broken, costs are rising astronomically in North Carolina, but I do not think the right approach is to move to a government-run system,” he told the Charlotte Observer in a profile.

McCready’s website says: “Dan knows we have to fix our broken and unaffordable healthcare system…[t]hat means standing up to big drug companies to lower prescription costs, strengthening Medicare, and fighting to stop insurance companies from raising premiums year after year and kicking people off their coverage.”

Question 1: What changes should Congress make to ensure the continuing financial viability of the Medicare and Social Security programs, especially now as many Baby Boomers are starting to retire and require services?

Our seniors have paid into Social Security and Medicare over decades, and we must keep those promises. The recent tax legislation, when fully implemented, gives 83% of the benefits to the wealthy and ultra-wealthy and adds $1.9 trillion to the deficit. We should repeal the portion of the bill that helps the top 1% and use that money to shore up Social Security and Medicare and to cut taxes more for the middle class

Question 2: What do you see as the future of the Affordable Care Act? What should Congress do to ensure people have access to affordable health insurance that covers all their medical needs?

Healthcare premiums are too high for too many North Carolinians, and our healthcare system is broken. We need to ensure that we keep the best parts of the ACA, including pre-existing conditions protections and essential health benefits, while fixing the parts that don’t work. That means having the courage to take on special interests to lower costs.

Question 3: What needs to happen to ensure people living in rural areas have access to adequate health care, physicians and hospital services?

Folks in rural North Carolina deserve better access to quality, affordable healthcare. We need to expand Medicaid, provide incentives for newly trained doctors and nurses to work in more rural areas, and have reasonable tort reform.

Question 4: How do you think the country’s food stamps system is working? Any changes you’d push for?

Thankfully, we’re seeing lower enrollment in food stamps as the economy has begun to recover. In Washington, I will work to help anyone who is looking for work be able to do so.

Question 5:  Drug costs for regular Americans just keep rising. Do you have ideas for specific legislation to bring prices under control and/ or make pharmaceuticals more affordable for consumers? If so, what will it call for?

Rising drug prices are crushing North Carolina families. We should ensure that Medicare can negotiate directly with big drug companies so that we can lower drug prices for our seniors. We should also hold drug companies accountable for reckless price increases.

Question 6: What should the federal government do to protect drinking water North Carolinians rely on from contamination by unregulated chemicals, in these and other locations? Is it time to re-examine the Clean Water Act, which is more than four decades old?

I support the Clean Water Act because no North Carolina family should have unsafe drinking water. At the same time, we need to ensure that the Act is working. In Congress, I will be open to amending the legislation to ensure it’s serving its purpose, but we must keep its vital protections.

Question 7: What measures would you support to reduce gun deaths, both accidental, intentional and those from suicide?

I approach gun violence prevention as a Marine who carried an M-16 in Iraq and as a supporter of the Second Amendment, but also as a father of four young kids. Too many parents today are left wondering whether their children are safe in their own schools and churches. That should never happen in America.
The problem in Washington right now is not that politicians are doing the wrong thing to prevent gun violence, it’s that they’re barely doing anything at all. That has to change. I will fight for common-sense and bipartisan gun violence prevention, comprehensive background checks, and closing the gun show and online loopholes that allow guns to fall into the hands of domestic terrorists, domestic abusers, and the mentally ill.

Question 8: What should the federal government’s response to the opioid overdose crisis Include? What could Congress do to reduce the amount of fentanyl coming through the mail from places like China?

No family in North Carolina is immune from the opioid crisis. We need leaders to work in a comprehensive manner on prevention, treatment and recovery, and enforcement. The Chinese are doing too little to stop the exportation of fentanyl, and we’re paying the price. I support the President’s desire to hold China accountable and make them pay a real price if they keep allowing the exportation of these dangerous drugs.

 

Jeff Scott (Libertarian)

Jeff Scott (Libertarian)
Photo courtesy: lpmeck.org

Jeff Scott is new to the North Carolina, having moved from the Bay Area in California. He’s been a financial technology consultant.

His website includes an article about the the VA system being more focused on veterans, “not administrators,” and he posted the answers below on his website.

His slogan: “Peace, Prosperity, Privacy.”

Question 1: What changes should Congress make to ensure the continuing financial viability of the Medicare and Social Security programs, especially now as many Baby Boomers are starting to retire and require services?

Social Security is not financially viable. It requires structural changes to meet basic standards of soundness and fairness. It must be modified by raising contributions from taxpayers, borrowing money, or lowering benefits. I oppose higher taxes, further indebtedness and undue burdens on young workers. As a financial professional, I have a duty to protect the elderly against false promises and poorly designed retirement plans. Working in Congress, I recognize that the benefit formula must reflect the reality that we are living and working longer.

Medicare is unviable in a different way. The Medicare4All movement made famous by Senator Sanders thinks the program can be scaled up to provide a nationwide single-payer plan. Medicare’s administration costs are low because the program has failed to effectively monitor waste, fraud and abuse. The Federal government’s inadequate management will continue to promote runaway costs and jeopardize the provision of decent, basic care for seniors at the right price.

Question 2: What do you see as the future of the Affordable Care Act? What should Congress do to ensure people have access to affordable health insurance that covers all their medical needs?

Insurance should cover unpredictable health care expenses. Third-party payer systems that “cover all medical needs” are flawed since they mix the routine, predictable expenditures with the emergencies. Consumers of medical care under ACA have no recourse other than to stop paying high premiums or risk medical and financial catastrophe. To make matters worse, consumers then pay exorbitant prices at the point of sale in a doctor’s office. The reason to scrap ACA is that costs will continue to spiral out of control until customers can get to the real price of healthcare as opposed to the fake and inflated prices that appear on medical bills. In Congress, I will work to return to a system where consumers and their representatives demand accurate prices and quality of care information.

Question 3: What needs to happen to ensure people living in rural areas have access to adequate health care, physicians and hospital services?

I advocate a consumer-driven health care system, a model that applies across the board to both rural and urban constituencies. There is no substitute for allowing broad personal and business choices to determine how the health care industry operates. Physicians choose where they can best ply their trade, hospital interests choose real estate services to find the best locations and customers choose services that they hope are at least “adequate” to meet their needs. I have no opinion on whether telemedicine is good or bad. The federal government should have very little control over how people choose to interact with their doctor. The industry itself can prescribe standards and best practices, but there is no reason for the law to limit consumer choice. Other forms of protectionism built into the health care industry also raise costs, such as the artificial limits on doctors. American doctors overall earn twice as much as their European counterparts but there is not a significant difference in health outcomes. I advocate liberalizing the market for talent, among other reforms, to constantly raise productivity and reduce costs.

Question 4: How do you think the country’s food stamps system is working? Any changes you’d push for?

As the anti-corruption candidate, I am far more concerned about corporate welfare and private-public partnerships designed to milk the savings tax dollars from working Americans. Large scale consumer welfare programs don’t work very well for recipients or taxpayers, but they do work well for administrators and other corporate benefactors. Around 42 million Americans participated in the food stamp program last year. Many people in emergency situations utilize benefits honorably, and people who suffer from difficult conditions through no fault of their own require a safety net. Food stamp programs should be limited to genuine and transitory misfortune and should not be promoted by administrators as a first option. We know also that states and localities are better suited to provide this form of relief.

Extended answer on the separation of state and food:

Government intrusion into the American diet and food supply has had poor results. The American diet is too high in sugars and simple carbs. The scares over dietary fat and other mistaken nutritional guidelines show that politicized science and Federal power over food is dangerous to health. The food industry is complex and consumer choice and experimentation can best adapt to changing needs and popular trends. When food stamps are used for sugary junk food, that is a grave disservice to those in need and those who want to conscientiously help them. Taxpayer generosity should not extend to paying the bill for lifestyle choices related to poor diet and lack of basic food education. In Congress, my focus will be on stopping corporate welfare, and not consumer welfare. My target is well-funded agencies tied to business interest where administrators are enriched while customers are ignored. I will support efforts to offer genuine relief to people who suffer conditions that exhaust privately and locally available remedies.

Question 5:  Drug costs for regular Americans just keep rising. Do you have ideas for specific legislation to bring prices under control and/ or make pharmaceuticals more affordable for consumers? If so, what will it call for?

The benefits of the patent system have been oversold. There are high costs associated with producing prescription drugs. Patents protect the producer during development and guarantees profits to payback the investors. Ultimately, the prices charged in the market reflect that high innovation cost. Consumers pay vastly higher prices. This is puzzling to most people, since innovation is supposed to lower costs and extend health benefits. Yet no one knows what the rate of innovation would be if there were no patents protecting investors. We do know that the costs are high partly due to regulatory risk aversion at the FDA.

As a Congressman, I would discourage attempts to control prices directly. I disagree with patent proponents who claim protections offered by our legal system are the only way to induce large, time-sensitive capital outlays for pharmaceutical research. That development model is not the only one available. For example, secrecy in research has costs that can be defrayed by more open source development models. Milton Friedman suggested decades ago that the FDA become a peer-review organization to make the best data widely available, and this is a good option. In sum, I would work toward reducing the patent term, requiring earlier licensing of patents, and push for a progressive approval process at the FDA. The consumer is sovereign and their right to try should not be artificially restricted.

Question 6: What should the federal government do to protect drinking water North Carolinians rely on from contamination by unregulated chemicals, in these and other locations? Is it time to re-examine the Clean Water Act, which is more than four decades old?

The Federal Clean Water Rule is under review. The Supreme court has opined on the contentious issue of the scope of the EPA’s power over the waters of the US. I favor limits on the agency’s power to expand its own role, for the same reason I oppose mission creep by other agencies. Congress must deliberate in the open over standards before it can authorize powers over navigable waters. The most straightforward case is one where the actions of the polluter are clearly related to specific harms. Beyond that, the standards for pollution control are contentious, and Congress must to design laws around the forecasts of potential harm. Industry cannot promise that its processes won’t have side effects and waste or that it can predict accurately the long-term harms.

There are two important examples for North Carolina. One is the possible negligence of hog farms where lack of preparation for a foreseeable event, such as a storm, can lead to animal waste in our rivers. Another is the degradation of the solar panel installations, which are also abundant in the state. Solar energy is an economic experiment built on subsidies for broad adoption. Panels will be decommissioned within 20 years. If the state wants to ward off future contaminations, then the industry itself and the beneficiaries of the subsidies must be held accountable. In the long run, much of that land will need to be reclaimed. North Carolina citizens can demand higher standards of precaution, such as monitoring animal waste facilities and industrial chemical contamination, the cost of which can be paid from the general fund.

Question 7: What measures would you support to reduce gun deaths, both accidental, intentional and those from suicide?

I would not treat violence as a public health issue. Violent behavior should be addressed by law enforcement, the courts and the penal system. Suicide is the ultimate form of self-harm and can only be addressed by strong families, communities and institutions. We must all cooperate to fight despair, isolation and mental health issues. I see a role for the Federal Government in improving its treatment of Veterans by restructuring the VA for greater accountability to the Vets themselves (see my proposal on lpmeck.org).

Regarding the issue of violence in schools, we have options. Teachers can opt for better training. Schools can opt for better security measures. Parents can opt for better monitoring of troubled children. Doctors can opt for better treatment regimens for mentally ill youth. Police can opt for tracking real threats. Banning weapons is a losing strategy.

Question 8: What should the federal government’s response to the opioid overdose crisis Include? What could Congress do to reduce the amount of fentanyl coming through the mail from places like China?

Opioids are a legitimate pain-management tool and prescriptions must not be prohibited. Mismanaged pain due to bureaucratic meddling causes needless suffering. Pain patients are pushed into the black market for heroin and fentanyl, which creates even more human costs. Congress can reduce the death and suffering by respecting the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship. Communities equipped with resources to treat addiction are far more likely to result in positive outcomes for addicts than jail.

The Federal Government’s response to any crisis should be to understand the facts. They must be realistic about what they can achieve under the limitations of federal power. Congress is keenly aware of the consequences of the infantile strategy of prohibition. To declare war on a substance, whether it’s cannabis or opioids, is to launch a costly and constant attack on our legal institutions. The drug wars are the major contributor to mass incarceration, expanded sentences, asset forfeiture, and violent raids.

 

North Carolina District 13

NC-13

Ted Budd (Republican, incumbent)

Tedd Budd (Republican, incumbent)
Photo courtesy: TedBudd.com

Budd supported the American Health Care Act, the Congressional replacement plan to the Affordable Care Act.

He doesn’t have a health care section on his campaign website, but does have a page devoted to his efforts to combat opioid overdoses, including his support of the RESTORE Act which allows the Drug Enforcement Agency to penalize pharmaceutical companies “that fulfill suspect shipments for opioid[s].”

In June 2018, he introduced H.R. 6261, the “Improving Choices in Health Care Coverage Act,” which promotes increased access short-term insurance products.

Question 1: What changes should Congress make to ensure the continuing financial viability of the Medicare and Social Security programs, especially now as many Baby Boomers are starting to retire and require services?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 2: What do you see as the future of the Affordable Care Act? What should Congress do to ensure people have access to affordable health insurance that covers all their medical needs?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 3: What needs to happen to ensure people living in rural areas have access to adequate health care, physicians and hospital services?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 4: How do you think the country’s food stamps system is working? Any changes you’d push for?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 5:  Drug costs for regular Americans just keep rising. Do you have ideas for specific legislation to bring prices under control and/ or make pharmaceuticals more affordable for consumers? If so, what will it call for?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 6: What should the federal government do to protect drinking water North Carolinians rely on from contamination by unregulated chemicals, in these and other locations? Is it time to re-examine the Clean Water Act, which is more than four decades old?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 7: What measures would you support to reduce gun deaths, both accidental, intentional and those from suicide?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 8: What should the federal government’s response to the opioid overdose crisis Include? What could Congress do to reduce the amount of fentanyl coming through the mail from places like China?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

 

Kathy Manning (Democrat)

Kathy Manning (Democrat)
Photo courtesy: KathyManning2018.com

Manning, born in Detroit, relocated to Greensboro 30 years ago, is running on healthcare.

One of her campaign ads features the story of her daughter’s expensive pain medications. “When Congress started fighting to take health insurance away from so many millions of people, I was just so angry that they were focusing on the wrong issue,” she told the N&O.

Manning is an immigration lawyer who has promised to not take money from insurance or drug companies; she wants to examine the role of drug benefit managers; she advocates reducing reliance on emergency rooms.

Question 1: What changes should Congress make to ensure the continuing financial viability of the Medicare and Social Security programs, especially now as many Baby Boomers are starting to retire and require services?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 2: What do you see as the future of the Affordable Care Act? What should Congress do to ensure people have access to affordable health insurance that covers all their medical needs?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 3: What needs to happen to ensure people living in rural areas have access to adequate health care, physicians and hospital services?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 4: How do you think the country’s food stamps system is working? Any changes you’d push for?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 5:  Drug costs for regular Americans just keep rising. Do you have ideas for specific legislation to bring prices under control and/ or make pharmaceuticals more affordable for consumers? If so, what will it call for?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 6: What should the federal government do to protect drinking water North Carolinians rely on from contamination by unregulated chemicals, in these and other locations? Is it time to re-examine the Clean Water Act, which is more than four decades old?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 7: What measures would you support to reduce gun deaths, both accidental, intentional and those from suicide?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 8: What should the federal government’s response to the opioid overdose crisis Include? What could Congress do to reduce the amount of fentanyl coming through the mail from places like China?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

 

Tom Bailey (Libertarian)

Tom Bailey (Libertarian)
Image courtesy: Ballotopedia

Bailey has three policy positions: end the wars, reform taxes, unrig the elections. He’s been active in the Libertarian party of North Carolina. The only health care-related segment on his website is a graph showing that the population of the U.S. prison system increased with the initiation of the “war on drugs” in 1971.

Question 1: What changes should Congress make to ensure the continuing financial viability of the Medicare and Social Security programs, especially now as many Baby Boomers are starting to retire and require services?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 2: What do you see as the future of the Affordable Care Act? What should Congress do to ensure people have access to affordable health insurance that covers all their medical needs?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 3: What needs to happen to ensure people living in rural areas have access to adequate health care, physicians and hospital services?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 4: How do you think the country’s food stamps system is working? Any changes you’d push for?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 5:  Drug costs for regular Americans just keep rising. Do you have ideas for specific legislation to bring prices under control and/ or make pharmaceuticals more affordable for consumers? If so, what will it call for?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 6: What should the federal government do to protect drinking water North Carolinians rely on from contamination by unregulated chemicals, in these and other locations? Is it time to re-examine the Clean Water Act, which is more than four decades old?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 7: What measures would you support to reduce gun deaths, both accidental, intentional and those from suicide?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

Question 8: What should the federal government’s response to the opioid overdose crisis Include? What could Congress do to reduce the amount of fentanyl coming through the mail from places like China?

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for answers.

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North Carolina Health News is an independent, not-for-profit, statewide news organization dedicated to covering health care in North Carolina employing the highest journalistic standards of fairness, accuracy...