Strong Community = Affordable Healthcare and a Great Education

I. Transparent Health Costs

No idea how much a medical procedure might cost? Worried about whether that blood work might leave you with a bill that will take a year to pay off? You’re not alone. Most patients, let alone medical professionals, have no sense of how much their healthcare will cost until they are paying off the deductible or the whole cost after the fact. This isn’t right, and it’s no way to run a market. We need to know how much a procedure will cost before we authorize it. We should insist on this basic level of transparency from insurers and health companies. There’s nothing else in your life that you buy without looking at the price tag—it’s not right that you’re having to make blind decisions when it comes to you and your family’s health.

II. Rural Health Practices

We’re used to long drives here, but there’s a difference between having a medical provider in town and having to go 30 miles for urgent care or a specialist. Opening a medical practice is a risk, especially for a solo practitioner—we need to look for ways to lower that risk so we have more healthcare choices closer to home. We should explore ways to have more local healthcare professionals or expand suburban practices to rural areas, and employ telehealth and patient portal technology. Richmond can’t just focus on rural hospital closures, we need to look for ways to attract more front line medical professionals to small towns and keep them here too.

III. Pay our Teachers for Their Work

We all know teachers who go far and beyond the call of duty, running extracurricular clubs and sports, staying late to tutor, looking out for a lonely kid or challenging the rising star. We need to keep our best educational warriors and attract talented new ones to our rural districts—this means competitive teacher pay, especially in a higher cost of living place like ours. It’s a shame that Virginia ranks flat out worst in the U.S. when it comes to our teacher pay gap. Even with a 2018 pay increase, we’re losing teachers every year to the states and school districts that compensate teacher’s better.

Parents (and grandparents) are our first and ongoing life teachers and supporting them is critical to a strong Virginia. Keeping an eye out for the places and people that make our towns great for families, is something I do and will drive at in Richmond. As a mom and 4-H leader, I notice the extra care of libraries, deputies, firefights, counselors, and extension agents put in to make our counties thrive. We need to support their admirable service.

IV. Career Exposure Earlier

Good jobs come in a number of shapes and sizes, we need to expose our youth and entry level workers to job paths earlier and in a more concerted way. High school seniors shouldn’t be wondering what’s next. They should have years of exposure to local professionals, skilled trade workers, business opportunities, new industries, and ways to serve their community. We need the curriculum flexibility—and that means retooling some of Virginia’s Standard of Learning exams—to give students a more dynamic look at the future educational and work environment. Our apprenticeship and technical training paths should be available earlier without lowering our standards for basic educational attainment. We need representation that will take a wider view of preparing students with all types of capabilities and interests to prosper in a future economy.