Why am I running for office? I have been a physician in Billings for over 20 years. I have seen the healthcare industry from the perspective of a hospital-based physician, a physician in private practice owning my own small business, as a caretaker for my elderly mother, and as a patient. It has become truly clear over the years that our system of care is fragmented and deeply divided between those who can afford treatment and those who cannot. As a practicing physician I felt I had little control or impact on how our citizens can obtain coverage or access to care.

I want to bring both sides of the healthcare debate to the table and solutions that address the concerns of all Montanans. I want to find ways to empower patients to take care of themselves and partner directly with medical professionals that help them mitigate concerns before they experience catastrophic illnesses.

I am not a single topic candidate. I want to better our public educational system. When Montanans are educationally prepared, they will take better care of themselves, their neighbors and their community. I want to upgrade our energy policies to make room for renewable energy. I want to do all of these things and more to make Montana the best place to live.

  1. I support the Medicaid expansion, and this will need to be funded in the 2021 session.
  2. I want to help our small businesses and improve the ability of our local ranchers and farmers to sell their products to our region.
  3. I want to support our small businesses and promote our economy.

How will you balance immediate needs against long-term decisions? We need a long-term plan for the future of our state that we can incrementally implement.  We need 5, 10, 20, 50+ years goals.  I have not seen that in our state, and we need to be proactive in looking towards the future and decide what our core values are and how we want to implement them. This should not affect the day to day needs of the state which are handled by existing policies and procedures.

Trustee vs Delegate: I think this is a balance that must constantly be weighed. House District 51 is a truly diverse district that includes people from all walks of life and varying socioeconomic states. The overall effect is that the district is moderate and that correlates well with my position on most topics.  I have been out on the doors since spring and have a good feel about what is important to the voters in HD 51. Most are tired of political extremes and overly partisan politics. Most voters want access to healthcare that they can afford, and they want pharmaceutical costs controlled. No one wants things for free or things that they have not worked for. They want our economy to get back on track and to have a stable job. I agree with their sentiments. I believe that I will function as a mix of trustee and delegate that will mesh well with the voters in House District 51.

Yes. I absolutely believe that the best legislation is accomplished when both parties work together to craft a law that benefits Montanans and satisfies both parties. Compromise will always be a part of this process. When we work towards the interests of all Montanans rather than the rigid stance of a political party, we are all much better served.

Montana’s tax code needs an overhaul. In 2003 our legislature collapsed the tax brackets and gave large tax cuts and capital gains tax cuts to the wealthiest Montanans. Anyone making over $17,000 is now in the same bracket as someone making over a million dollars a year. The changes in the tax code resulted in those with incomes of over $500,000, (the top 0.4% of taxpayers) received an average tax reduction of $30,499. For the rest of Montanans, the average tax cut was just $23.  Overall,  Montanans with lower income, pay a larger portion of their income in taxes compared to those with higher incomes. These changes also decreased our overall state revenue and has hampered our ability to fund programs that serve our elderly, our veterans and those who most need services. The first step should be to overhaul our state income tax structure. Also, there has been a need in many communities to have the option of letting local voters choose a local option sales tax.  This tax would be targeted towards visitors to our state and to luxury services. The state should not stand in the way of local communities expanding their income source. It would be my hope that if a local option sales tax were implemented, that homeowners would also benefit with property tax relief.

Passing legislation to exempt businesses from liability from one specific type of viral infection is a very slippery slope. With our current public health system hampered by overwhelming caseloads of COVID-19 and the presence of general community spread, it will prove exceedingly difficult if not impossible to prove that an infection occurred in one location or interaction. We already have workplace safety laws and organizations such as OSHA which oversee these laws.  I would rather see torte reform which limits frivolous lawsuits than a specific law aimed at limiting COVID-19 based lawsuits.

The Medicaid expansion is crucial in many ways. In addition to the benefits of healthcare access for almost 10% of our population, the program is critical for the fiscal health of our hospitals and community health clinics. In Yellowstone County more than 20% of our GDP is related to the healthcare system and the Medicaid expansion has allowed job creation and expanded healthcare programs. The expansion has allowed increased access to mental health services for our community and an overall improvement in the health of our population. Without the expansion our local hospital systems and Community Health Clinic would be financially at risk of collapse.

Montana has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. Cutting mental health services would be extremely short-sighted and would potentiate the suicide crisis we are currently facing. We need to be prudent with our money and judicious with our cuts.  I will not sacrifice public safety and healthcare services.

I believe the most successful programs to boost our economy and create jobs is an effective blend of public-private investments. Our state is aging, and we need to focus on a long-term plan of increasing business investment into our communities and attracting young families to our state. In Yellowstone County, Healthcare is a large economic driver. We have top-notch healthcare with cutting edge technology. We also have two colleges with excellent technology programs. We are primed to create an environment that would be conducive to boosting innovative blends of medicine and technology and create a hub of industry in our community. This would result in new job opportunities and a boost to our economy.

This is a membership communication paid for by the Billings Chamber of Commerce and provided for the benefit of our members.