Finalize the Equal Rights Amendment to Constitutionally protect Womens Rights and Roe v Wade!
Ending systemic racism
The issue of systemic racism is finally surfacing to the mainstream but still faces a great deal of resistance from white people who prefer to keep their blinders on.
Paraphrasing Robin Diangelo, suffice it to say that this is a far-reaching problem that exists within a centuries old framework of oppression that will not change until white people like me and especially our lawmakers, are finally willing acknowledge our complicity, unintentional or not, in allowing this system of oppression to continue.
It's time to enter the era where people of all gender identities and sexual orientations and preferences can be unafraid and proud of who they are without fear of persecution and repercussions. Violence and hate shall not be tolerated and the right for everyone to love who they love shall be equal and protected.
I believe in promoting a greater awareness of climate change and the impact it will have on our state for generations to come. Our coastline and beaches help define what it means to be a Rhode Islander. The beaches in South County are some of Rhode Island's greatest assets and it is our responsibility to preserve and protect them. Climate change’s threat to coastal infrastructure, aquatic life, and coastal access is real and documented and we need corresponding legislation that will better prepare us for the ongoing and increasing effects of climate change.
We need to make sure that our policies aren’t being dictated by corporate interests. This is why if I am elected, I will work to become a member of the various committees devoted to policy making, revenue raising and distribution to ensure a path to a clean, green and prepared Ocean State.
Corporate interests often take priority when it comes to many issues. Neighborhoods across our state are under threat of large corporations moving in and changing the landscape, creating unwanted traffic, and introducing large parking lots which destroy ecosystems and send wildlife deeper into distress. We must return the focus to what is right for the space and place rather than just the bottom line. These types of commercial real estate transactions should be held to a high level of scrutiny and the corporations must work to establish a solution that is both reasonable and appropriate for the community.
Real estate and zoning also impact our local agriculture. Farmers are turning to greenhouses to keep up with competition and to gain the ability to produce year round. They should be supported by their representatives and have comprehensive legislation that defines land use as being both indoor and outdoor, as well as having incentives in place for those who focus on sustainable and organic farming. We also want to make sure farmers in Rhode Island have resources they need to remain sustainable and flexible through climate change.
Medicare for All, Transforming healthcare from the top down with H.R. 1976
My Platform is anchored on my belief that in the modern world, healthcare is a human right. Repairing the disjointed and healthcare system with Medicare for All H.R. 1976 will save money for the consumer and improve care, equity and access across the board. Reducing Over-Utilization of emergency services and connecting people with more appropriate care for their condition will be an immediate improvement that works for everyone.
No one should have to mortgage their home or host fundraisers just to support the costs of being sick, it's indecent.
No one should have to choose between rent and medicine. These are a couple of reasons why I support major systemic transformation represented by Medicare-for-All.
Despite the intended purpose of Emergency Medical Services, a full emergency response with transportation to the emergency room is the de facto first line of medical care for the uninsured, under-insured, and others.
Emergency rooms are packed with people suffering from non-emergent problems, most of which would be more appropriately handled with an appointment to a primary care physician or a visit to urgent care. These better alternatives are overlooked frequently even when they provide exponentially faster service and reduce out-of-pocket costs to the individual. This causes the entire chain of emergency response to be stretched to its breaking point and resources become limited.
A program called “Mobile Integrated Healthcare” piloted by Providence EMS Chief Zach Kenyon and a few other communities nationwide has shown potential as a means of changing the way people receive medical care.
People would be better served, see lower out-of-pocket costs, and there would be fewer unnecessary trips to the emergency room if they were connected to and set up with primary care when it's the more appropriate medical response. Giving people the means and agency to manage their health before it becomes an emergency can be an effective way to empower those who would otherwise turn to 911 and fill the emergency room.
There are a couple ways to cope with this.
A multi-lingual, targeted public information campaign to educate people on how and where to seek appropriate medical care.
Utilize the "step down" from a full emergent response to Mobile Integrated Healthcare. This would begin with public information, then move to dispatchers being trained on the requisite triage and having a well-researched algorithm to direct the response. Then a program like "Mobile Integrated Healthcare'' would respond to calls determined to be ‘basic life support” or “non-emergent” and act as a street level triage to determine whether emergent care would or would not be more appropriate. If not, Mobile Integrated Health could transport to non-emergency medical care facilities, utilize telehealth, or otherwise facilitate appropriate care.
Many individuals struggling with homelessness are also dealing with mental health and occasionally substance abuse issues as well. The unfortunate reality is that when these individuals find themselves cold, hungry and tired or simply intoxicated, they call 911. These individuals are then sent to the hospital by ambulance or even to jail if there is an extremely combative behavioral component to their illness. Neither of these actions improve the individual’s circumstances or resolve anything, as they are almost always discharged without treatment or follow-up.
We know, thanks to work done by a locally operating HMO that carries a number of homeless individuals on their rolls, getting a person off the street reduces Emergency Medical Service utilization by 70%. This is a big number when you consider how many of the 1000 homeless people in RI are not-at-all insured, and how the ones that are insured impact the risk-pool of their insurance plan which in turn raises prices for everyone else. Unpaid medical bills for providers and higher insurance premiums for consumers is the result. This cycle continues endlessly and the entire Emergency Medical Services chain from dispatch to discharge is strained to the point of burn-out. Case in point, when the pandemic came, nurses quit their careers in droves because they had already been at the verge of quitting for years due to this problem and probably even more because of the issue discussed in section 2 below. This is also a testament to the nurses who remain, they are true warriors.
So what can we do to solve the seemingly unbreakable cycle to this impossible problem?
In order to tackle the issue of homelessness, there is no shortage of complexity, but there ARE things we can do.
A. Broaden the definition of homelessness. Many people are living in unstable housing arrangements that either equates to homelessness in spirit or puts the on the edge of becoming unsheltered.
B. Develop a system to ensure housing security. Create more resources for homeless people to access a foothold and a chance to restart. Providing safe spaces w/ food security is the most basic. It's hard to focus on self-improvement when survival is the only priority. Sometimes people prefer to sleep on a sidewalk rather than a shelter due to the lack of privacy and security in group living environments. People need their most basic needs met to make any significant progress. Safety and security is paramount.
1. Disproportionate numbers of homeless people engage in substance abuse, for some it is the cause of homelessness and others it is self-medication for the stress of homelessness. Frequently a person struggling with substance abuse secures housing only to lose it when they relapse. With the peer reviewed evidence-based research behind addiction, it should be assumed that hard drugs and alcohol abuse are not going to be solved on the first attempt and housing security should be priority 1 in addressing the problem.
C. Stem the flow of at-risk individuals into homelessness with comprehensive behavioral and occupational therapy starting in elementary school. We know certain individuals will outlive caregivers or “age out” of a support system. This is predictable, yet these folks slip through the cracks unabated.
D. Make sure that legislation is in place to prevent physically, psychologically and developmentally disabled people from being left out in the cold. One of the most heartbreaking things first responders see day to day is people like this who should have no expectation of self-care and for some reason the system has failed them. This is mainly because there is no actual system in place. When John F. Kennedy signed into law the Community Mental Health Act of 1963, the infrastructure and funding were ready to go, unfortunately, Kennedy was unable to see it through and a fraction of the intended Community Mental Health facilities were constructed, and facilities never received adequate stable funding. Because deinstitutionalization continued despite lacking an adequate replacement, many in the affected community were lost to the streets. Jails have become the largest mental health institutions in the US, and In Rhode Island, the hospitals carry much of the burden.
E. The individual cost to the taxpayer for each homeless person is roughly $35,000 a year (endhomlessness.org) and the cost to house them is half of that. One locally operating HMO recognizes this truth and actively finds housing for homeless individuals in their risk pool, however this company is a stand-out and not the standard. We have seen this work and we have seen people quit or dramatically reduce using substances simply because their basic survival needs are met. The savings to the tax-payer are real and the outcomes are positive.