The 7th Congressional District, which encompasses parts of Gwinnett and Forsyth counties, is one of the most diverse in the state and can be a model for what our country can become: one rooted in communities that focus on education, families and quality of life, but with an eye towards a diverse future and global enterprise. Unfortunately the policies being advanced by our leaders in Washington are not taking us in this direction.
First, we have a President whose behavior is increasingly problematic and whose business dealings create serious conflicts of interest. We need a Congress that will provide effective oversight. There is no indication that our current Congressman will do this.
Second, there are a number of policies that are important to people in the 7th District — education, economic development, and transit are critical to address — but the most acute crisis is health care reform, which is a pocketbook issue, a moral issue, and an issue of democratic accountability.
Like many citizens of the 7th District, my own family struggles with the cost of health care. My mother cared for my aging and very sick father until both recently passed. She couldn't come visit us in Suwanee because all of her discretionary income was eaten up paying for medications, including ones to treat my father’s diabetes. Between 2002 and 2013, the price of insulin has tripled, and in 2017, news organizations reported it was going to go up by another eight percent. My parents used to hit their insurance cap for drug payments in November, but in 2017 they were hitting it in July.
This problem is not at all unique to my family, and in fact, by many standards we are lucky. When I talk to doctors at Gwinnett Medical Center, they report that admissions of elderly patients starts to increase in July and August as these patients can no longer afford their medications and try to skip them — with serious consequences for their health.
Why is the cost increasing? One reason is that Congress has prevented Medicare from using its purchasing power to negotiate a better deal on drug prices. And why have they done this? Because pharmaceutical companies give lots and lots of money to politicians. In 2016, these companies gave $60 million to representatives in Congress.
The decision-making around health insurance and the Affordable Care Act is also incomprehensible to me. Congressman Woodall, the incumbent in the 7th District, voted for a bill that would mean 67,000 fewer people in this district would have health insurance. The bill discriminates against those with pre-existing conditions and would allow insurance companies to not cover truly basic health care services like emergency room care and maternity care. These kinds of choices have deep and serious long term consequences for us as a community and a country.
Not only are there more compassionate ways forward, there are more fiscally responsible ways forward. And this is why I’m running for Congress.