I was 22 when I was diagnosed with skin cancer. I didn’t have insurance, and couldn’t find affordable insurance anywhere. That was over 30 years ago, yet little has changed. 

Close to 430,000 Tennesseans are without health insurance, and even more are underinsured. Since 2012, Tennessee has seen 10 rural hospitals close, and 15 more could be in danger, including two in the 2nd Congressional District. Insurance premiums and the cost of phramecutical drugs continue to increase at rates faster than both income and inflation. 

I couldn’t see the problem more clearly than when I’ve spoken with folks across my district — 60,000 of whom don’t have any health insurance. One man I met in Parkridge was raising money for an emergency medical procedure for his daughter on GoFundMe, and one women had to resort to asking for help with her hospital bill on restaurant kiosks in Loudon County.

Meanwhile, instead of working to address the healthcare needs of his constituents, my Congressman voted against legislation that protected folks with pre-existing conditions and that lowered the costs of prescription drugs, all while taking thousands of dollars from lobbyists in the insurance industry.

East Tennessee deserves better.

That’s why, as a Congresswoman, I would support legislation to expand Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veteran’s Health Administration. Everyone should have the healthcare they need, regardless of their ability to pay. 

I would also fight to give Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans Health Administration full authority to negotiate prices for prescription drugs and reduce the patent time for new drugs to 15 years. These two actions, and legislation like H.R. 987, which passed in the House earlier this year, would dramatically reduce the cost of prescription drugs. 

East Tennessee needs Congress to act: to lower the costs of healthcare and to achieve universal coverage. When I get to Congress, I’ll make sure we do.