HEALTHCARE

Dan Ward believes that all Americans have a right to affordable, accessible, quality healthcare. Elderly Virginians should not have to worry about cuts to Medicare. Low-income Virginians and their children should not be cast aside by politicians fortunate enough to have never needed services such as Medicaid. Politicians have no place between women or anybody else and their doctor. Hard-working Virginians should be able to come home, sit at their dinner table, and know that a pre-existing condition or a catastrophic accident will not put them or their family in financial ruin.

Dan will always stand up against extremists trying to take health care away from fellow Virginians. We can’t play ideological politics with our nation’s health care system. It’s not good for Virginia. It’s not good for America.

The Affordable Care Act gave 20 million more Americans access to affordable health insurance, including many here in the 7th Congressional District of Virginia. In ways too numerous to list, it did a lot to level the playing field between patients and insurers. And yet it isn’t perfect. We still have work to do to improve the access and quality of healthcare while driving down the tax burden we’ve heard so much about.

Under the old system, doctors and hospitals were rewarded for increased visits, tests and procedures they ordered. More testing and appointments meant more income for the provider, without necessarily resulting in better care for the patient. This makes no sense. Doctors should be paid based on how well they treat a patient, and be relieved of the pressure to spend less time with each person per visit.

Despite Republican complaints, the overall increase in the cost of healthcare has lessened under the ACA, though premiums have gone up, especially for those whose previous plans provided insufficient coverage.

GOING FORWARD: MORE CHOICE IN RURAL AREAS

The number of people without any health insurance and healthcare facilities continues to be highest in rural areas. Sophisticated medical technology and drug regimens have become standard components of basic health care in the 21st century. But in rural areas like Central Virginia, lack of community health centers mean that our citizens have a hard time with physical access to a doctor, let alone access to the highest standard of care.

The current Congress has grossly endangered basic funding for community health and CHIP – the Medicaid program for children. This widens the gap between the haves and the have-nots, when those very patients who are most vulnerable should be among our highest priorities. Instead, they stand to be the first to lose their footing due to the dysfunction in Congress. Dan will work to increase the presence of community health centers throughout the 7th District to ensure that a doctor’s appointment is within reasonable distance, and that medical help is within reach in case of an emergency.

THE NEXT FRONTIER: A PUBLIC OPTION

As your representative in Congress, Dan will work to improve and strengthen the Affordable Care Act, which most Virginians support.

Dan will work to ensure that federal premiums for low-income earners are protected, giving hard-working people confidence that they can afford their insurance premiums month over month. This provides stability in a market where people are quickly losing insurance options and facing steep increases in premiums that are already way too high.

Dan also believes in lowering the Medicare age requirement. We must sensibly apply our existing resources to increase Medicare eligibility to provide access to insurance through a “Public Option” in addition to Medicaid expansion in Virginia. This would reduce the number of underinsured and uninsured even further, creating competition in the market. Expanding Medicaid would particularly assist nursing homes, 64% of which rely on it to stay in business. By giving people choices between a private and a federal insurance option, we bring premiums within reach for our friends and neighbors in Central Virginia.

Finally, Dan believes we must pass Tim Kaine’s “Medicare-X” program as soon as possible.  As reported by the Washington Post, Senator Kaine’s plan would “allow anyone to buy into a publicly provided plan using the network of Medicare providers and physicians, at similar rates, with lower-income workers receiving tax credits for the plan.”

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OPIOIDS/ADDICTION

In 2016, the most recent year for which there is data currently available, there were over 1,400 drug-related deaths in Virginia. This constitutes a 38 percent increase from 2015. Dan supports declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency through the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, a move which would free up more funding than President Trump’s decision only to invoke the Public Health Service Act.

Dan supports family and community programs, alternative pain treatment, and preventing the over-prescription of opioids. This last point is critical, we must hold those that habitually over-prescribe accountable.

Dan knows that this epidemic affects Virginians of all ages. Babies can be born addicted to opioids. Families can be torn apart. This situation calls for compassion and courage, not criminalization of the addicted. 


VETERANS

As a veteran with close to 25 years of service in the United States Marine Corps, Dan understands the challenges that veterans face and will make caring for veterans a top priority.

Our nation’s veterans have earned the right to quality and accessible healthcare. Dan is committed to ensuring that the VA continues to improve its system by providing timely and geographically convenient appointments, reducing the amount of bureaucratic processes that cause confusion and frustration, and guaranteeing unfettered access to mental health services.

Dan believes that disabled veterans and their spouses should receive all of the promised benefits that they have earned and deserve. He will fight for the elimination of the “widow’s tax” to ease the burden on the surviving spouse when their veteran dies from service-related injuries or illness.

Dan will bring much-needed support to veterans returning home with mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome and depression. He will work to remove barriers to mental health services and commit to funding mental health research, especially research related to traumatic brain injury. Dan will fight to ensure that all service personnel who are discharged with service-related mental health issues have access to VA care. He will advocate for programs that address substance abuse, suicide, and homelessness among veterans of every generation.

Dan understands that any program that supports our disabled veterans must recognize the vital role of families in the recovery process and include resources to educate and support families, especially caregivers.

As a veteran, Dan knows that transitioning after years of military service is often difficult and he will support programs that provide job training, employment opportunities, and education benefits for veterans and their families. Dan believes it is important to recognize and promote the resilience and potential for post-traumatic growth in combat veterans and will work to educate potential employers about the unique value veterans can bring to their business.


JOBS & ECONOMY: THE SUPPORT AND SAFETY OF AMERICAN WORKERS

Too many middle-class Virginians are working harder and making less. Many two-income families can barely get by, much less save for retirement, help their ailing parents, and pay for their kids’ college tuition. We don’t need more tax loopholes for the super-rich; we need to encourage the growth of unions, because it is no coincidence that wages have gone down as union membership has declined. Dan supports putting policies in place that ensure all people can earn a livable wage if they are willing to put in the work. Dan believes we need to level the playing field.

Headlines may tell a story of low unemployment and record stock prices, but many in Central Virginia are still left out of the modern economy. There are a few common-sense steps we can take that will ensure the economy works for everybody.

  1. It is imperative that we raise the minimum wage. Virginia’s minimum wage is currently the same as the federal minimum wage: $7.25 an hour. Nobody who works full time should be one broken bone or busted car part away from the poverty line.

  2. We need to expand broadband to every corner of the district. Our building trades are equipped to lay the lines and build the towers necessary to make that a reality.

  3. We should use Project Labor Agreements where possible to ensure that our workers are given a fair return for their labor.

  4. We need to stiffen penalties on employers who are committing wage theft.

  5. We need to revitalize the middle class, through promoting apprenticeship programs and focusing on jobs in green energy and computer science. In 2016, the American solar industry grew 17 times faster than the economy as a whole. Today, Virginia has more solar jobs than coal. The tech sector is also full of potential: Virginia has dozens of thousands of high-paying unfilled computer science jobs.

Up until the moment Dan announced for Congress, he was an active advocate for increased aviation safety on behalf of the Air Line Pilots Association. As your representative, Dan will support legislation that protects and promotes safe travel for the public by protecting the lives and livelihoods of passengers and our professional aircrews. When we make our planes and aviation enterprises safer, we keep everyone safer. When we responsibly counter economic malpractice in the airline marketplace that undercuts the legitimate competition and keep the door closed on foreign ownership of our essential domestic carriers, we maintain proper fair trade conditions for good American jobs.


IMPROVING EDUCATION AND SOLVING STUDENT DEBT

For too many people, the distance between the American Dream and American reality is too great. Education has never been more essential for closing that distance than it is today. To that end, Dan believes we must:

  1. Incentivize schools to invest in STEM education, which would help fill Virginia’s dozens of thousands of high-paying unfilled computer science jobs.
  2. Address America’s teacher shortage via a federal initiative to hire more teachers at competitive salaries. Hiring more teachers would aid the economy and bring down class sizes, which would allow students to participate more and have greater access to technology. Virginia alone has over 1,000 open teaching positions.
  3. Replace the school-to-prison pipeline with a school-to-opportunity pipeline. Virginia sends “more students from the classroom to the courtroom than any other state in the country.”  Congress can help change this with legislation similar to the Positive Behavior for Safe and Effective Schools Act from 2009, which if passed would have allowed schools, as well as state and local agencies “the flexibility, funding, and technical assistance needed to implement programs designed to reward positive behavior and improve school climate.”

Dan is a proud product of Madison County Public Schools, and an emphatic supporter of public education. He also knows that what President Obama said in his 2010 State of the Union address remains true today. "In the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college." To turn what should be into what is, Dan believes we must:

  1. Incentivize public service. Today, someone who supports American communities by participating in programs like AmeriCorps or any other type of public service, is eligible for loan forgiveness after 10 years.  Dan wants to build on the success of this program, expanding the options for service and shortening the loan forgiveness period to four years.
  2. Make it possible to publicly refinance student loans, thereby giving more people access to lower interest rates.
  3. Improve income-driven student loan repayment plans like Pay As You Earn (PAYE). Susan Dynarski of The Brookings Institution puts it well: “For those patching together several part-time jobs, hours and earnings can bounce around weekly. ...In PAYE, and all the other income-based repayment programs, every change to earnings requires a new application to adjust the loan payment.” This situation is absurd and must be fixed.

ENSURING EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL AMERICANS

To promote the best possible American future, to make sure that no one gets left behind as we fight for a more perfect union, Dan believes we must:

  1. Pass the Equal Rights Amendment, because it should have become law in the 1970s.
  2. Stop Republican efforts to roll back key provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 sought an end to “the unjustified segregation and exclusion of persons with disabilities from the mainstream of American life.” Any hindrance of that goal is unacceptable.
  3. End mandatory minimum sentences. These laws are racist, and they need to be removed. In our legal system and in life, we shouldn’t treat people with anything less than the decency and fairness due to them as human beings.

Dan supports marriage equality, transgender rights, reproductive healthcare access, and criminal justice reform including restorative justice and the decriminalization of marijuana. He will never hesitate to stand up against the forces of fear, and to stand up for the right of every American to be treated equally under the law.


DOING RIGHT BY AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES

In America, nobody should be left behind. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sought an end to “the unjustified segregation and exclusion of persons with disabilities from the mainstream of American life.” Over a quarter of a century later, we still have yet to achieve that goal.

Students with disabilities make up only a small portion of the national student population, but they constitute the overwhelming majority of students who are forcibly restrained and isolated while in school. Every child in our country deserves a school where they can learn safely and be treated respectfully.

Nearly one in five Americans has some degree of disability. Adults with disabilities should be included and not excluded, supported and not undermined, at every opportunity. Republican efforts to roll back key provisions of the ADA must be stopped, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) must be fully funded.


GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION

Dan is a hunter, a Marine veteran, and served on the pistol and rifle team at Quantico. He supports the rights of gun owners, the large majority of whom are law-abiding citizens. He also knows that America faced 346 mass shootings in 2017, and that we have to do something to lower that number. Dan believes we must:

  1. Close the gun show loophole via enacting universal background checks. Before anybody buys a gun, we need to make sure that they aren’t a terrorist, a criminal, or a physical or psychological abuser, and also that they don’t suffer from serious mental illness.
  2. Pass the Gun Violence Restraining Order Act, H.R. 2598. This legislation, introduced by Democrat Don Beyer of Virginia, would “allow family members or law enforcement officials to petition a judge to temporarily remove firearms from an individual in crisis.”
  3. Pass the Assault Weapons Ban of 2018, H.R. 5087, co-sponsored by Don Beyer. Weapons of war have no place on our streets or in our schools.

Dan considers all of these reforms to be common sense.


PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT

Five months before he was assassinated, President Kennedy declared that “in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.”

If we protect our planet, we protect ourselves. Every year, more people die from pollution than from homicide, suicide, and war combined. Any politician who refuses to admit that truth and reckon with it is endangering American lives and American jobs.

Getting it right on the environment will aid the economy. A June 2017 article from Business Insider makes this clear:

As of November 2016, the American solar industry employed 260,077 workers. This is an increase of 24.5% from 2015, with a growth rate that is 17 times faster than the United States economy as a whole.”

In 2017, Virginia jobs in the solar industry increased by 10%. Today, Virginia has more jobs in solar energy than in coal. Dan knows that green energy jobs are a gateway to revitalizing the middle class, and he supports them wholeheartedly.


TECHNOLOGY AND INTERNET

Access to broadband internet or better is essential in the modern economic and educational realm. Dan supports bringing broadband to every corner of the 7th District. Our building trades are equipped to lay the lines and build the towers necessary to make that a reality. Dan is also a strong supporter of net neutrality. He supports former President Obama’s call to reclassify internet service as a public utility.

 

“I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.” – Stephen Jay Gould

 
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