Although some of these issues are not local or state, I include them so that you can see how I think. I'll add more platform statements over time. If you don't see your issue addressed yet, please feel free to contact me to ask that question.
Healthcare spending is growing faster than both general inflation and wages. Where it hasn't already, it will soon crowd out all other spending--defense, infrastructure, etc. It cannot continue as it is; focusing on the doctor-patient relationship instead of administration and insurance can help us see that change.
First, thank-you for reading more. I want to give you a bit of backstory... As a physician, I have seen patients in many settings. They include residential treatment centers for adults and adolescents, jails, secured hospital settings, standard hospital settings, and clinics both private and non-profit. Before I left insurance-based care, I had only about 12 minutes with my patients. During that too-short visit, I unfortunately spent the bulk of it typing furiously into my computer. What I was typing would never be helpful to me or my patient or my patient's future doctors. It was only there for billing, to satisfy some bean-counter. It was a miserable experience for me. Although I knew I was helpful to my patients, I wondered, "Is there a better way to do this?"
It turned out that there was. In 2014, I began plans to open my own clinic. In early 2015, I opened that clinic. I opted out of all insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid. I worked directly with my patients. After I shrugged off all the meaningless documentation and costs associated with insurance, I found my streamlined clinic to be liberating and enjoyable for me. My patients find it to be convenient and cost-effective.
I am a physician, patient, and taxpayer. I also buy my insurance on the open market (through my small business). Like almost all families, I am paying more for monthly premiums for a poorer product. This is a direct consequence of government intrusion into healthcare. I expected this and attempted to avert it. I joined like-minded physicians to travel to Washington D.C. in 2012. We hoped to educate our legislators about the coming cost spikes and the drops in quality that would be solidified by Obamacare (PPACA).
As you know, PPACA passed. In the Minnesota Senate, I will work to keep options open for Minnesota residents. If you want to use your insurance in a traditional manner, great. If you want to explore other options such as concierge medicine, direct patient care, or no insurance, then that should be your right.
The government should have no say over whether a person marries or whom a person marries.
I believe that neither whether a person marries nor whom a person marries impacts anyone else’s liberty.
The government should not reward marriage, and it should not punish or impair marriage. Although there are exceptions, people choose to marry for several reasons. I chose to marry out of love and with the knowledge that raising children in wedlock gives those children the most stable life and chance for success. I chose to marry my wife despite the various “marriage penalties” that we suffer.
If the government were not involved in marriage at all, I believe that the United States would still see a strong and healthy respect for marriage. Generally, people instinctively know that marriage is a key foundation of a healthy family. For those who wish it to, marriage could and would continue to have great religious and personal significance. Also, some people would continue to have secular marriages. To each his or her own.
Small, Medium, and Large Businesses
For the first time in decades, business are failing faster than new businesses are being created. The hurdles to opening and succeeding in a small business are many, and they stem from government intrusion.
As you may have read elsewhere on this site, I am a small business owner. Since 2004--first as a sole proprietor and later via my LLC--I own and work in my own clinic, provide medical services to many agencies such as treatment centers and group homes, and provide forensic consultations to attorneys, judges, and counties.
When I started my business, I was shocked and the number of regulations that governed what I did. Also, I'll be frank, I have a relatively "simple" business model. I cannot imagine the regulations, insurance costs, and other impairments to success that larger businesses must suffer.
I know that any costs and burdens placed upon businesses are simply passed on to the consumer and the workers. The consumer pays more for a good or service and the employee is paid less. When I am in the Minnesota Senate, I will work to minimize government's restrictions upon business. By doing that, I know that consumers and employees will benefit. Also, as businesses flourish, the economy will also flourish.
Abortion and Government Involvement in Your Medical Care
Although I am generally pro-life as an individual, I believe that government involvement in medical decision-making should be limited.
I have a unique perspective as I am one of the few individuals in the state that helps courts decide whether to impose mental health treatment on patients against their will. Because of this, I take very seriously the idea of government-imposition or government-restriction on medical care. Three areas come to mind: abortion, a right to end one's life, and so-called "death panels."
Regarding abortion, this is obviously a very difficult topic. People on both (all) sides of the issue have very strong feelings, opinions, and arguments. From the standpoint of liberty, this is also very difficult. The prospective mother has liberties, and at some point, the unborn child has liberties. We hope as a society that prospective mothers will have the educational, moral, and religious upbringing to prepare them to make whatever choice is best for her and her family. As a physician, I have witnessed cases where a pregnancy can be fatal to the mother or endanger her other children (postpartum psychosis, as an example). As difficult as it may be, I do not intend to legislate against choice. I will do what I can to encourage options other than abortion--adoption, contraception, and abstinence.
Regarding a right to end one's life, I attended listening sessions presented by Kathy Sheran, the Senator who's seat I hope to fill. I support legislation that she supported that would allow a competent person to obtain a lethal prescription for the purposes of ending their life. Examples where this has been used include patients with terminal illnesses and cancer--especially with severe pain and difficulty breathing.
Regarding "death panels," these are not currently openly used in the United States. However, with rising costs of healthcare and large organizations (including the government) viewing healthcare as a business, these may be coming soon. I want to keep decision-making in the hands of the patient, their family, and their physician.
Welfare and the “War on Poverty”
The War on Poverty, fought since 1965, has been won—by poverty. Government lacks the ability to win such a war. The private sector does have that ability (and was winning that war prior to 1965).
When the United States of America was founded, 90% of its citizens lived in poverty. From 1776 to 1965, poverty in the U.S.A. dropped to 14% due to an economy based on liberty and capitalism. American ingenuity created jobs and wealth at a rate the world had never seen in the prior thousands of years of civilization.
Despite capitalism’s breathtaking track record, in 1965 our government decided to begin a War on Poverty. In the coming 50+ years, over 70 different government programs have been created to wage that war. Those programs’ impact upon poverty has been drastic, but not in the right direction. At the cost of $22 trillion ($22,000,000,000,000), that 14% poverty rate from 1965 has increased to 14.3% in 2016. Somehow, despite spending $87,000 per year per family of four, the United States has worsened poverty!
There is one group, however, that has benefitted from the War on Poverty… Government bureaucrats. The number of people living in poverty increased by millions while most of that $22 trillion was taken home by government agencies and workers whose only job is one they have failed at—miserably.
Government spending is out of control and often ineffectual, and it must be reined in.
You and I have to live on a budget that does not increase at our whim. The government (which, after all, is made up of people who have to live by their own family budget) can also learn to prioritize its spending.
The federal government spends about $1.20 for each $1.00 they remove from the private sector via taxes. Let’s think of a real world example.
Please assume that I am your neighbor and I produce no wealth of my own. Somehow, I acquire from you $100 for my week’s expenses. At the end of that week, I come to you and say, “I spent your $100 and another $20 that I didn’t have. Can you give me $120 this time?” You do. The next week I say to you, “I only paid off some of that $20 I was in debt from last week. And, I spent your $120. Oh, plus, I spent an additional $25. I need $145 this time.”
How long would you let that go on before you decide that I cannot be trusted with ever-increasing amounts of money?
The only way to curb such spending is to give me less or no money. Similarly, we must start by “giving” the government less money. The federal and state governments will have to do some work and decide what they truly want to fund.
I support the Second Amendment.
I am an avid hunter, an owner of four long guns, a revolver, and a pistol. I have had a carry permit since about 2004. As a group, carry permit holders are far less likely to be involved in illegal activity compared to people that are not carry permit holders.
When I approach an agency that bans guns via signage, I take notice. I may either disarm myself and store my gun safely or not enter. Criminals do not obey those signs. In fact, it is clear that criminals intent on mass shootings specifically target businesses and locations that ban guns.
Restrictions upon the Second Amendment only restrict lawful gun owners. That is, the very people that we should want carrying guns will be less likely to be armed. Criminals, however, will continue to unlawfully arm themselves.
When I see a mass-shooting on the news, I consider things other than "gun control." For example, is mental health care adequate? Were the victims able to be armed? Recall that 95+% of mass-shootings occur in "gun free zones." This, sadly, makes perfect sense. Where else would a criminal--intent on inflicting mass casualties--go other than a place where (s)he is guaranteed a pool of victims unable to defend themselves?
In the past 20 years, the number of guns owned by U.S. citizens has increased by tens of millions. However, firearm deaths have dropped by nearly 50% The media and many in our government would have you believe otherwise. It is clear that guns are not the problem. If they were banned, we know from other countries' experiments in such bans, the guns would not go away. They would only be available to the unlawful, the criminals.
On a related topic, there is one group of Americans who consistently buy, rehabilitate, and preserve the most land—hunters. Also, local junior high and high school trap shooting leagues are successful, growing, and teaching gun safety to thousands of Minnesota kids each year.
Public education, especially where controlled by the federal government, is generally inefficient, costly, and low-quality.
Some areas still have very good public schools. Many areas have abysmal schools. Examples of the latter include Minneapolis Public Schools’ reading proficiency rate (41% and falling, and harming minorities especially so) and graduation rate (less than 50%), and many other metrics.
The solution is simple and has already been shown to be very effective: vouchers. People may not realize that vouchers could be used in any school setting: public, private, parochial, online, home schools, and other schools. Parents can use a certain amount of money as a voucher, or scholarship, that would pay for the cost of a school of their choice. Over time, the free market will continue to show that school choice will improve student happiness, decrease fighting, increase grades/scores, and increase graduation rates.
I support companies and individuals who want to provide time, money, and goods to public and other schools. Examples include that a local hospital might choose to buy all the AEDs for a school. Or, a farmer might want to provide vegetables to their district's schools. This would help to control costs and would also foster a strong relationship between the school and the community.
Social Security Disability
My answers regarding welfare and the War on Poverty also apply here. In brief, this is an unsustainable program that is often abused, so it needs modification.
The disability portion of Social Security (SSDI and related programs) is bankrupt. If no changes are made, the program will have to draw from other areas of the budget or pay out significantly less per individual. Another problem is fraud. When polled anonymously, physicians estimate that about 85% of patients on disability are not actually disabled. SSDI, welfare, and the like need to be phased out due to fiscal reasons and for the benefit of the recipients.
I work with patients that are truly disabled, yet they cannot actually get disability due to the number of people abusing the system. I also have patients that are on disability who are thriving because they also work 10 to 20 hours per week.
However, I also work with many patients who are trapped within the welfare/disability system. Their sense of self-worth plummets as they become dependent on the government for their housing, food, healthcare, and most other basic life needs. Those who wish to leave the disability system after they've joined it soon realize the barriers to regaining their independence are too great to overcome.
In the Minnesota Senate, I will do what I can to limit disability to those who are truly disabled and remove those who are not. Also, I will open up opportunities for the disabled to increase their work and ability to earn. Lastly, for those who wish to return to more full-time work, I will remove government barriers to that.