Congressional representatives in western North Carolina are selected from Districts 5, 10, 11 and 12. 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, Yen Duong, Sarah Ovaska-Few, Taylor Knopf

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 Florence,the western area’s about 600,000 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 5

NC-5

Virginia Foxx (Republican, incumbent)

Virginia Foxx (Republican, incumbent)
Photo courtesy: U.S. Congress

Virginia Foxx was elected to the U.S. Congress in 2012. She does not support the Affordable Care Act; she voted for the 2017 House replacement. She recently pushed a bill “that would allow employers to acquire genetic information about their employees and their families in order to reduce workers’ health insurance premiums.” And she’s a co-sponsor of a bill that addresses the opioid crisis.

She has been consistently anti-abortion.

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.

 

DD Adams (Democrat)

DD Adams (Democrat)
Photo courtesy: DDAdamsForCongress.com

“Health care is a right, not a privilege,” said DD Adams when asked her top priority by the Winston-Salem Journal. “Ultimately, we need to move to a single-payer system.”

She  says wants to improve the Affordable Care Act by expanding Medicaid and “transition to Medicare for all.”

According to the health section on her website, Adams supports access to abortion; wants to address opioid abuse; supports community health workers; and is open to using telemedicine.

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?

These two programs have made a significant contribution to the quality of life for older Americans and by bolstering their economic and health security and helping to lift millions out of poverty.

The 2018 report of Medicare’s trustees finds that Medicare’s Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund will remain solvent — that is, able to pay 100 percent of the costs of the hospital insurance coverage that Medicare provides — through 2026. However, the 2017 tax law reduces income taxes on Social Security benefits, part of which go to the HI trust fund. Repealing the tax penalty for failing to get health insurance (also part of the tax law) will increase the number of uninsured and increase Medicare payments for uncompensated care. The solutions are difficult.

For Medicare:

  • the eligibility age should be raised to from 65 to 67 to match the age eligible for Social Security benefits
  • reinstating the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which was projected to help slow Medicare’s cost growth
  • the Affordable Care Act (ACA), along with other factors, has significantly improved Medicare’s financial outlook, boosting revenues and making the program more efficient so the ACA should be reinstated until such time as we adopt a single payer system.

I agree with the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities when they conclude that “Policymakers and the American public should not be driven into adopting such proposals by misleading claims that Medicare is on the verge of “bankruptcy” or is “unsustainable.”  Instead, we should pursue a balanced deficit-reduction approach that puts all parts of the budget on the table, including revenues.”

For Social Security:

  • increasing the tax cap from $117,000 to $200,000 would reduce Social Security’s funding shortfall by 29 percent

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?

A careful look at the data shows that cost went down went all people were required to participate in health insurance. Ultimately, we need single-payer insurance. The U.S. is the only developed nation using the patchwork of public and private payments. Single payer national health insurance would resolve virtually all of the major problems facing America’s health care system today. Under a single-payer system, no one would be without health insurance, and cost savings might be achieved through a reduction in administrative expenses coupled with an emphasis on preventive medicine and the universal adoption of electronic medical records. Whether we move to Medicare for all or some other approach, it is time to make the move to single payer.

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

Of specific concern in the 5th District is access to healthcare. All but two of the counties within the District are rural and are challenged by closing hospitals and the lack of providers. I support:

  • Promoting the use of community health workers to provide education, referral and follow-up, case management, and home visitation
  • Increasing funds for non-profit healthcare organizations
  • Providing higher education financial incentives for those serving underserved areas;
  • Facilitating the delivery of consultative, diagnostic, and treatment services using telemedicine for patients who live in areas with limited access to care
  • Promote competition in the healthcare industry by allowing more kinds of medical professionals to provide care (e.g. nurse practitioners, PAs, etc.) through an overhaul of medical licensure and “scope of practice” laws
  • Allow the U.S. government to negotiate drug prices

Question 4: How do you think the country’s food stamps system is working? Are there any changes you would push for?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, is one of the most successful means-tested programs run by the USDA. I am particularly pleased with the ability of users to make purchases at Farmers Markets.

The proposed Farm Bill: this year’s Farm Bill guts strips $23.3 billion from the SNAP program, which would leave an estimated one million households with little to no food assistance.

SNAP works, and it works for those who need it the most. It has been incredibly successful in alleviating hunger, lifting people out of poverty, and supporting our economy and we to protect this invaluable program.

One particular policy change that concerns me involves young adults —including youth aging out of foster care, young adults experiencing homelessness, low-income college students, and young adults who were formerly incarcerated—also face a number of other challenges, any policy changes that could reduce their access to food assistance should be based firmly in the evidence of what works for this age group.

Question 5: Drug costs for regular Americans continue to rise. 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 fastest and most practical solution is to allow the U.S. government to negotiate drug prices. Drug prices are high because there is little competition and, with few exceptions, we have allowed pharmaceutical companies to set prices with no relationship to the cost of producing or marketing.

Remember Vimovo, a drug for arthritis pain, or the Epi-Pen which increased in price nearly six-fold in 2014 or $600, up from a little more than $100.

I would also encourage patent reform. The 21-year time period for a patent is somewhat arbitrary. Ideally, a patent should cover a long enough period of time for the inventor to earn a good return, but not so long that it allows the inventor to charge a monopoly price permanently. This change would provide the opportunity for new business to provide competition.

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? Should the law be restructured? What are your ideas, if any, for updating these environmental statutes?

The current administration is busy repealing protections to our water (air and soil, too) at a time when we need to be even more rigorous in protecting our natural resources. It is time to re-examine the Clean Water Act as we know much more about the dangers of pollution and how to protect our water.  I agree with Clean Water Action:

  • We need better tools to find more of these chemicals in water and to know what drinking water sources, private drinking water wells, and other water is contaminated
  • We need to know where these chemicals are made and used and in what products. We also need to identify how they are getting into the environment and to stop that contamination
  • We need better information on effects on our health, on wildlife, and on overall environmental quality
  • Costs of clean up should not be paid by taxpayers, but by those responsible for the contamination
  • Producers of these chemicals need to be accountable for contamination, and for continuing to make and use these chemicals while withholding evidence of health risks
  • Address the issue of unregulated chemicals, such as GenX. Approximately 180,000 chemicals are currently untested. States should be held responsible for allowing chemical discharges

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

Until we have workable national regulations, we will be unable to address gun violence, because local regulations are inadequate. As a gun owner, I support the Second Amendment, but it is not an absolute right for anyone to own a gun. I support:

  • Requiring a 24-hour waiting period to purchase a handgun
  • Eliminating the gun show loophole
  • Requiring owners to be licensed and insured
  • Requiring owners to be safety certified and certifications to be renewed on a regular basis

The growing suicide rate reveals the much bigger effect of widespread firearm availability in the United States — and claims thousands more lives.

According to the Washington Post, “Research shows that the longer it takes someone to obtain a weapon — such as if they have to go out and buy one or if the state has a mandatory waiting period — the more likely they are to decide against killing themselves or choose an alternative, less lethal method.”

In 2017, the CDC released Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policy, Programs, and Practices which provided a wide range of strategies. Those that I think deserve governmental support include:

  • Gatekeeper training: is designed to train teachers, coaches, clergy, emergency responders, primary and urgent care providers, and others in the community to identify people who may be at risk of suicide
  • Crisis intervention: these approaches provide support and referral services, typically by connecting a person in crisis (or a friend or family member of someone at risk) to trained volunteers or professional staff via telephone hotline, online chat, text messaging, or in-person.
  • Treatment for people at risk of suicide: can include various forms of psychotherapy delivered by licensed providers to help individuals with mental health problems and other suicide risk factors with problem-solving and emotional regulation
  • Treatment to prevent re-attempts: these approaches typically include follow-up contact and use diverse techniques (e.g., home visits, mail, telephone, e-mail) to engage recent suicide attempt survivors in continued treatment to prevent re-attempts

Question 8: What should the federal government’s response to the opioid overdose crisis include?

Lacking a coherent federal plan, many states (9 in 2017) have developed their own responses. The most common elements include: Limiting first fills for opioid naïve patients to five days; regulating pain management clinics; and, enacting Good Samaritan laws to encourage bystanders to call 911 in the event of a potential overdose.

The first role of the federal government should be that of prosecutor. The DOJ, in conjunction with the FDA, should aggressively pursue doctors who over prescribe, pain management clinics that are just fronts for opioid distribution, and manufacturers who have flooded the country.  The second role for all levels of government is increasing access to treatment, reducing unmet treatment need, and reducing opioid overdose related deaths through the provision of the full range of prevention, treatment and recovery services for opioid use disorder. While this administration talks about opioids, it is slashing funding sources that help people access treatment for opioid addiction.

North Carolina District 10

NC-10

Patrick McHenry (Republican, incumbent)

Patrick McHenry (Republican, incumbent)
Photo courtesy: U.S. Congress

Patrick McHenry supported the 2017 House plan to replace the Affordable Care Act and, generally, says on his website “a government-rationed healthcare system is not the answer.” Instead, McHenry supports Association Health Plans.

McHenry says he wants to reform malpractice lawsuits—putting limits on jury awards. “The Senate blew up what I thought was a reform plan,” McHenry told a town hall of the GOP’s inability to change health care. He said at the town hall that states should be allowed to develop their own systems for health hcare.

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.

 

David Wilson Brown (Democrat)

David Wilson Brown (Democrat)
Photo courtesy: DWB4Congress.com

David Wilson Brown believes healthcare is a right. On his website, he has criticized McHenry for potentially “draconian cuts to Medicaid” and for “the disastrous repeal and replace legislation that would have put over 20,000,000 off their health insurance.” Brown supports a transition to single-payer.

He said he decided to run after seeing a video of a protestor of the 2017 House Affordable Care Act replacement plan kicked out of McHenry’s Gastonia office.

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?

Increase the cap for social security. I think there’s no reason why we even have a cap on Social Security to collect and make a huge differential in its viability going forward. Right now there’s a cap. It’s too low for sure and there really should not be one in place because that has a major impact on how much money is coming into the system. Especially with how much longer we’re living. I think it’s a necessary fix.

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’re going to have to move to single payer. I think that the ACA was set up be a way to keep the system we have but strengthen it [and] make it accessible to more [people]. But with the use of lobbies to continually weaken the provisions that helped make it financially viable, it’s become apparent that we have a middleman industry that takes profits solely off of denying care. We’re paying a significant portion, I think 500 billion, to the private industry.

If we cut that out, then the savings to the American people can […] cover the gaps where it’s necessary and provide that same level of coverage that so many seniors will swear to as being superior to what they had […] throughout their life to everyone, and we deserve that.

If we could not get there, one option would be Chris Murphy’s Choose Medicare Act as a means to prove that the Medicare system can hold more, [and] to restore the public option that was stripped away from the ACA. I still think that the only viable option to save the country money and to get actual health care for everyone is to move to a single payer system.

We need to be more proactive in wellness care for people and not just dealing with symptoms or chronic diseases or conditions. If we had more proactive care, people could go to a doctor and understand what would be necessary to keep them healthier. [We should] give options for that as opposed to just responding to symptoms after they’ve occurred.

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

I think single payer will make a big difference on that. I think a big reason why so many of our rural community hospitals have been closing is there’s not a strong financial motive—many of the people in those areas can’t afford private insurance. If everyone was insured, that would give a more level playing field. Those in the rural communities could have access to hospital care that would be financially viable to those private institutions. If it comes to it, the government needs to subsidize to make those [hospitals] available.

I think there are probably some good potentials with [telemedicine]. I’m an IT guy. I’ve already talked about using video conferencing to help keep in better touch with my constituents, but I certainly think that that is an option to explore to free some doctors up to reach some areas that are under serviced.

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

I know that it’s successful in bridging the gap for a lot of families. I’m a big proponent of moving to requiring companies that operate in the US to pay people living wage. I would hope that a big benefit of that would be not needing social safety net programs as much.

Essentially, we’re paying the bill to cover the gaps for companies that are making record profits but are not paying their people. […] I think that it shouldn’t be made more restrictive, but I hope that we can put some policies in place that make it less necessary if possible.

I think those putting more restrictions in place are doing it because the Right seems to want to punish people for ending up in poverty, whether it be by personal actions or via circumstances of birth. As much as they talk about people pulling themselves up by their boot straps, they certainly want to own every piece of leather that someone could potentially build a boot out of.

Kids are often born into situations where their parents have less and it’s not their fault. It’s our job as society to help bridge those gaps so that they can succeed and they can get past that and do the bootstrap-pulling that we want people to be able to do.

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?

Single payer Health Care. If we got to single payer Health Care, we would have the buying power of the nation to get drug prices under control. And we would be able to save the nation a tremendous amount while still allowing for innovation and R&D.

I think that we should consider going back to a model where drug companies are not allowed to advertise. I think that we also have to look at what companies are selling their drugs for in other countries versus what they’re selling them in the US and ask how they can justify a different price for US customers. I think single payer is the key to taking a little control back.

We’ve seen the Right cut science programs and the CDC and all these programs that help brands cover R&D. If a company is seeking to make profits, R&D has got to be part of their equation. They’re talking out of both sides of their mouth. They’re saying that they have to charge us to have enough money for R&D, and yet they’re making record profits [and] spending time on advertising.

And I understand the way that works is there’s 50 medications that they research and only one comes through [as a…] product. I think the government should have a stronger role in grants for R&D for good science. And I think that that could make up some of the differential and not pass that speculative cost on to the consumers.

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 revisit that. When regulation is put into place, and it sits there for as long as it does, and advancements in science have occurred[…], we absolutely need to have a review of that legislation to bring it up to modern standards. […] We should hold these corporations accountable for the spills and for the damages that they do. If they can’t produce energy or [their] products [with] a plan for their waste, then they need to not be pursuing those areas.

I would like to have a much stronger EPA that’s not hobbled by lobbies. We have to recognize how much the regulations that protect our environment have added to our better health. So much of the cost in managing this health crisis could be dealt with by better handling of the environment ahead of time, before they become health crises. Look at what’s going on in Flint [and] the costs that [families] have to deal with from the health results of their bad water decisions.

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

Absolutely. The CDC was restricted from researching—that’s certainly something we need to address.

I think it goes back to mental health care. With a great power comes great responsibility; we have to figure out a way to make sure those who have guns understand what their responsibilities are to continue gun ownership, and that includes proactive storage of their weapons.

Red flag laws are a big differential for many people, including concerns about self-harm not just potential harm for others. These would make a huge impact, along with universal background checks, to make sure that those who are in a bad way, if only for a temporary period, do not have access to weapons. I want to get them through the experience.

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 think that we have to have a national conversation about how to look at options for pain management [and] potentially even have sections of our medical establishment set up specifically to work through those options with the patient.  [Doctors need] to not leap to the opioids option, especially as we understand how addictive it is.

We have to get away from doctors so freely prescribing them. I had my appendix out, and I certainly didn’t need the amount of medicine that I was prescribed for aftercare. I’m not bashing my doctor; I’m sure they were following protocols. But it’s ludicrous the amount that we as a nation end up with overall. That’s added to a lot of the availability and the resale. We know it leads to the harder stuff, but because we treat prescription medicines in a different way that we look at illegal drugs, it’s much more acceptable for people to have access to these drugs.

We have to look at options. I’m very open to medical cannabis being more openly prescribed, getting the federal government to reschedule marijuana and get out of the way of states implementing their versions of medical marijuana or even adult recreational use. I’m not saying it’s the answer, but I certainly think it’s something we need to look at: these more natural, accessible ways that have been taken out of the playbook.

 

North Carolina District 11

NC-11

Mark Meadows (Republican, incumbent)

Mark Meadows (Republican, incumbent)
Photo courtesy: U.S. Congress

Mark Meadows is the chair of the House Freedom Caucus, the vocal faction of the party that leans toward the Tea Party movement. Meadows jostled Trump and Ryan on their Affordable Care Act replacement plans, nudging them farther to the right; he favored fewer subsidies for premium payers and favored moving Medicaid to a block grant program.

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.

 

Clifton B. Ingram Jr. (Libertarian)

Clifton B. Ingram Jr. (Libertarian)
Photo courtesy: Ballotpedia

Clifton Ingram, the Libertarian candidate, suggests opening up insurance markets to make it easier to buy products across state lines.

Also, he offers “[m]aking insurance industries non-profit, or profit sharing, might be an option.”

He does not support government-run healthcare programs such as Medicare or 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.

 

Phillip Price (Democrat)

Phillip Price (Democrat)
Photo courtesy: Price4WNC.org

Phillip Price says, in his discussion of health care on his campaign website, that he went two years without health insurance. The Affordable Care Act provided him with insurance and care. But, he says, it needs to be better. He’s in favor of a single-payer option.

Price also mentions the viability of rural hospitals as a concern.

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?

With Social Security I think that what we need is to remove the cap, the income cap, for those that are paying into social security.  I think that the answer to Social Security is a much broader issue than just one or two things that can be done to fix it. My platform of bringing better jobs with bigger paychecks to Western North Carolina as the bigger picture of Social Security. If we can increase wages, bring wages to a more of living wages and provide opportunities and jobs in industries that are going to pay a living wage, then the Social Security taxes that will be collected will be greatly increased just because of the fact that people will be raising the tax base by improving people’s wages across the board.

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? Studies show that getting people the d they need helps to prevent chronic illness and can reduce future health care costs. Where is this on your agenda?

I support House Resolution 676, “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All”, and nothing short of that.

I’m a recipient of the Affordable Care Act currently and it helped me a great deal. I know it’s not a fix-all. It’s a step in right direction but because North Carolina failed to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act there have been a lot of people that have been allowed to fall through the cracks.

If we can get some more progressive thinking people into Congress than we will get it [ACA] strengthened and gest some legs back under it at least until we can move all the way to Medicare for All.

The Medicare for All, expanded and improved, [dental, vision and hearing care] would be included in that improvement.

Question 3: What needs to happen to ensure people living in rural areas have access to adequate health care, physicians and hospital services?Rural hospitals, as they’ve existed since the end of WWII, might not  always the best way to provide rural health care any more, but what comes in their place and what are you doing to make that happen? What federal policies could be created to enhance the role of telemedicine?

Passing Medicare for All. I think expanding Medicaid again will help. We’ve got these rural hospitals, especially in my district, that are closing down services like labor and delivery.

We have over 50 percent of the babies being delivered in my district are paid for by Medicaid. Just expanding coverage, it’s how we’re going to get the services back, getting the funding for it.

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

I’d really have to study it some more.

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 we go to a single-payer Medicare for all and allow for Medicare to negotiate pharmaceutical costs, I think that’s ultimately how we’re going to be able to lower drug costs. Allowing for generic brands and suppliers from outside the country to be more available would certainly help with the costs of pharmaceuticals.

I would also say that moving toward the legalization and use of medical marijuana would help greatly with the cost of pharmaceuticals. There are so many pharmaceutical, chemical drugs that are made in laboratories that would become obsolete if medical marijuana was fully implemented nationwide and was given more attention, more research, more laboratory time.

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?

My opponent [U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows] has voted to repeal the stream protection rule, he did that last year. He’s also voted twice to undermine the EPA’s power plant regulations. He tends to be on the side of fossil fuel and electricity that’s produced by fossil fuels. We need better regulation not less regulation from those industries that pollute our water.

It’s also chemical plants, the paper mills and so forth. They’re doing a lot better than they have in the past but the current administration and my opponent would like to go backwards and under many if not all of the things we’ve accomplished in the last 30, if not 40 years, in cleaning up our water and air. I’m 100 percent for clean water and air over corporation’s profits.

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

We need to have universal background checks, going across state lines, nationwide registry that would include history of violent mental illness, history of habitual animal abuse. We should have longer waiting periods, cool off periods. We need to close any loopholes that are in purchasing guns at gun shows and pawn shops.

I don’t think it would be an infringement on people’s 2nd Amendment rights if we had to register guns like we do automobiles.

Yes, most definitely [we should we treat gun violence as a public health issue, allowing government-funded studies].

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?

Back to healthcare, the expansion of Medicaid and then ultimately going to a Medicare for All system would provide funding for opioid addiction treatment. Perhaps a national prescription registry where the information of where and when someone fills a prescription of opioids is known across state lines so that people can’t just bounce around to doctor to doctor and get prescriptions filed to either abuse them themselves or sell them.

I believe medical marijuana will pay a role in figuring out the opioid addiction problem. It could be an alternative for pain management where people are now taking the opioids for pain management which is additive and deadly. Opioids will stop your heart and kill you whereas marijuana and cannabis will never do that. It’s not addictive and it will never stop your heart.

 

North Carolina District 12

NC-12

Alma Adams (Democrat, incumbent)

Alma Adams (Democrat, incumbent)
Photo courtesy: U.S. Congress

On her website’s section on health care, Alma Adams promotes her encouragement for Medicaid expansion and the recent legislative introduction of a bill that would create grants for programs dealing with sexual health for young, disadvantaged people.

She introduced H.R. 6698 which, she wrote, would “work to end preventable morbidity and mortality in maternity care by using evidence-based quality improvement to protect the health of mothers during pregnancy.”

She’s supported the Affordable Care Act and was against the House replacement promoted by Republicans.

Question 1: What changes should Congress make to ensure that Medicare and Social Security continue to be viable financially?

I always tell folks, you want to make good policy, you have to have good people who understand why it’s important for the people. In North Carolina, we have a lot of elderly people, that people would reach that retirement age, including myself. What’s important for them to know they paid into social security, [and] it should be available for them when they need it. We’ve got over 400,000 people in our state who don’t have [healthcare]; we did not expand Medicaid in the state. I think that was very foolish on the part of the General Assembly. I fought for them to do it and they didn’t. And that’s why I say you got to have people understand it. I didn’t grow up with healthcare. My sister had sickle cell, she passed away at age 26. We always had to get her healthcare from the emergency room. No one should have to do that. Everyone should have health care, and it’s not a partisan issue. If you’re sick, you need to see a doctor, then that becomes important, more important than what your party affiliation is.

Question 2: What do you think is the future of the Affordable Care Act?

I think it’s going to continue to exist in some form. I think there are some things that we can do to modify. I believe that we must continue to care for people with pre-existing conditions, everybody’s got one or some or several, and you should not be excluded. I am a diabetic, and that’s a pre-existing condition. I just think that there are so many things about the Affordable Care Act, there are good things, we now have people who able to see a doctor and never been able to, and course you hear some people saying that their premiums are higher, because I think we can work together on making the necessary adjustments so that it is affordable for everyone. I believe that we’ve got to have health care for everybody.

Question 3: What do we need to do to ensure that people living in rural areas like in North Carolina have access to adequate health care?

I think we can use something [like] what we used to use for libraries and you have mobile units. Right now, in some of these remote areas and some of these rural areas, there are no hospitals. I think we could probably stand to use more urgent care centers, those kind of modified hospitals, that would be sort of mobile in, in a sense that we could move them into certain communities so that people can be cared for, some people in our state have to go miles and miles to a hospital. That could be the choice between life and death for some people if you have to go too far. We need to bring those hospitals to those communities; bring that medical care to those communities. And if we have to do it in terms of remote mobile units, and those kinds of things, I think that’s something we need to look at.

Question 4: What do you think about the country’s food stamps system? Do you think it’s working?

I sit on the committee on Agriculture, the Subcommittee on Nutrition. Right now, in the 12th district, we have 161,000 people who are food insecure; 50,000 of those [are] children who go to bed hungry every night. I believe that we need to make sure that everyone is able to have the food that they need when they need it. SNAP [is] via the farm bill, which we have not authorized yet. I don’t know if we will. It may just go on the way it is. Part of the debate in that committee was to get rid of SNAP.

Folks who get SNAP benefits work every day; these are the working poor people. We need to make sure that people who work hard every day are able to feed their families. That’s why they’re working two, three jobs, because their money and their food runs out before the month.

We need to increase what we’re doing there because we have so many people who are hungry. We have food deserts, particularly in this 12th district. People just can’t get food. These hurricanes [have] created a problem for people in the eastern part of the state, and the rural areas where the stores have not been able to come in, where farmers have actually lost much of their product. It’s a real problem. SNAP is absolutely necessary. We have too many hungry people. If your belly doesn’t growl, then you don’t understand the pain that I have because I don’t have food.

Question 5: Drug costs keep rising. Do you have any ideas for specific legislation to keep drug costs under control?

I think we have to manage our pharmaceutical companies a little bit. You should not have to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for your medication; you should be able to afford to take your medication.  […] In some cases, if people can’t afford their medicine, they just die. I would hate to think that that’s what the government wants. Some of these prices are absolutely ridiculous in terms of what people have to pay. I just don’t believe any medication costs that much. I don’t believe it costs that much to make it. I think you got these pharmaceutical companies, these big drug companies that are making a lot of money on poor people, and that Congress can do something about it.  We need to take control of that. We need to set some standards and we need to require them to bring us back numbers that are not only reasonable, but affordable.

Question 6: What should the government federal government do to protect drinking water in North Carolina? Is it time to re-examine the Clean Water Act, which is more than four decades old?

I have been a strong supporter of environmental issues. It’s really about our future and about the children. We need to make sure that our drinking water is pure, that it’s clean. All of this digging and fracking and all that kind of stuff that we’re doing, I think is a detriment to the health of our citizens. We’ve got to have stricter regulations and we are deregulating the wrong things in my opinion. We deregulate those kinds of things that help our environment to stay pure and provide clean air and water for our children. Look at what happened in Flint, Michigan […] because the government’s not paying enough attention to what’s going on. I think regulations in some instances are absolutely necessary. And I think instead of deregulating many of the things we need to continue the regulations and make them stronger, in some instances.

Question 7: What measures would you support to reduce gun deaths, both accidental unintentional and those from suicide? Do you think we should treat gun violence as a public health issue?

I think it has become a public health issue. There’s too much access. […] We don’t have enough control on not only who buys them, but where you can buy them from. We don’t have enough regulations in terms of your how long we have to wait, background checks. All of those things, in my opinion, will help in this regard. Because if they’re not accessible, then people don’t have them to the degree that they have them. Recently they there was something out about guns that are produced through the internet, and you can just print it out 3-D and they’re plastic. Tou’re not going to be able to check them, they can go through the security in an airport, you wouldn’t even know it. The current administration lifted the regulation that we had on that [which] would have given us more control. I think we need to stop turning our heads and really focusing on what we know is wrong, and we know what we can do to me solve some of those issues as far as it as it relates to guns, and which contributes to a lot of violence in our communities.

Question 8: what should the federal government’s response to the opioid overdose includes?

I’m glad to see that it’s become at least an issue of concern. But I think we have to go further than we’ve gone and we’ve got to put the resources necessary to address that problem. Sometimes government says, well, we’re going to put a million here, a million there, but we’ve got to know exactly what it is we need, and we’ve got to bite the bullet to do that. If we can give tax breaks to the richest folks in this country who don’t need it, then I think when we look at that, that’s a major, major health crisis. It’s getting worse. It’s impacting families. It’s impacting packaging workers, it’s impacting children, it’s just impacting everyone. It’s something that we really need to get our arms around, which means that we’re going to have to provide the resources for the research, for addressing this as an epidemic but it’s also it’s a drug.

 

Paul Wright (Republican)

Paul Wright (Republican)
Image courtesy: Wright for Congress website

Party leaders have been unable to reach Paul Wright, and the Charlotte Observer was unable to contact him. He does not have a health care section on his website.

In 2012, during a run, he said he disliked the Affordable Care Act, according to Ballotpedia. He did not respond to question sent by North Carolina Health News but, instead, sent the following statement.

Statement from Paul Wright:

Thank you for your concerns for the welfare of the American people.  I too am open to reopening the Clear Water Act and also working to make sure Social Security is not bankrupted.

However, I would  like to state that I am not a socialist and therefore I feel uncomfortable trying to answer the other questions, as I believe the family & local government should be the primary building block of society, not a centralized government over a nation of millions.

I believe this is clearly laid out in out Constitutions, both Federal and State, also in our Common Law, and most importantly in the Bible.

You may wish to visit my website as to my views on the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 as to my thoughts on extreme socialism.

 

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One reply on “Western North Carolina Congressional Voter Guide”

  1. Quite obviously the Republicans aren’t talking. That’s because they lie: by diversion; or, look over there at the shiny object, etc. Its all lying and their behaviors are littering our civic life with dead skunks stinking to high heaven.

    So, is your publication so enamored of the Republicans that you cannot state the truth? If so, you’ve got a really big problem.

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