Melissa believes that all Virginians deserve quality healthcare. She knows that there is a difference between “access” and affordability. This is why as delegate, Melissa would fight to protect the coverage the Affordable Care Act has provided more than 300,000 Virginians, and vote for the expansion of Medicaid to over 400,000 men and women who are currently without insurance. By continuing to refuse to expand Medicaid that Republican held legislature has said no to over $10 billion in funding from the federal government. In the 34 states that have expanded Medicaid, the program has lead to increased revenue for the state, better health outcomes for patients, and job growth for workers.
With a Masters in Science and Health Administration and 20 years working in the healthcare field, Melissa has expertise in healthcare finance and reimbursement and understands the changes that are needed to make the ACA work for everyone. She knows that users of the healthcare system need increased transparency in order to make the best choices about where to receive care. As most insurance plans are set up right now, doctors and hospitals are incentivized to treat illness rather than maintain health. It is time to change these structures and for the state to encourage contract negotiation that will keep Virginians healthier and more money in their pocket.
In the face of looming cuts on the federal level, Melissa will fight to protect funding for public schools in the commonwealth. Teachers should not have to spend money out of their own hard earned salaries to equip classrooms with basic supplies. With over 1.2 million children enrolled in public schools across the state, it is time to take a stand and ensure that all Virginia's children have the resources they need to lead successful lives no matter their family's economic background. For too long, education has borne the brunt of state budget cuts with over $800 million cut from education funding over the last eight years. Our children deserve better.
We live in a rapidly changing world and it's time to make sure Virginian students are keeping up. In addition to maintaining the excellence of Virginia's traditional four year institutions, Melissa will advocate for an increased emphasis on skill training programs and support funding for the Virginia Community College System and its network of campuses around the state.
Melissa is committed to an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the very top. For too long, races for the House of Delegates have gone uncontested, and as a result, officials have become unresponsive to the needs of their constituents. Melissa is committed to meeting people where they are and providing a voice for those who are struggling. As delegate, Melissa will fight for common sense solutions such as the expansion of broadband connection to rural areas currently being ignored by state-level funding, which will in turn provide fast reliable internet that will help attract business and aid residents apply for jobs.
We need to make sure that small businesses are able to compete with large corporations. This means eliminating some of the burdensome hurdles that holding small businesses back while making sure that corporations are paying their fair share. This will also require that Virginians workers are equipped with the 21st century skills and technical training to find good paying jobs. No one working full time should have to choose between keeping food on the table and paying rent. Virginia has one of the lowest minimum wages in the country (even West Virginia pays their workers $8.75/hr). We need to do better for our workers.
Equality and justice for all is the bedrock of this country. As delegate, Melissa will fight for the rights of the marginalized and for those who feel their voice is not being heard in Richmond. She is a proud ally of the LGBTQ community and a fierce advocate for the rights of women. Melissa supports the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and will oppose any legislation infringing on a woman's right to choose. Melissa will make spaces for those in underrepresented communities to be heard and will seek to listen and convey these concerns in the capital.
Climate change is real and it is a serious threat to the health of our families and communities. Because of the role that special interests play in elections through their unlimited financial contributions to candidates, they have been allowed to wield a heavy hand over the policy decisions in Richmond. Melissa is committed to doing what is best for Virginians, not large corporations. This is why she has pledged to never - neither as a candidate nor as an incumbent - accept contributions from Dominion or Appalachian Power. It's time for politicians to start living by their values, and Melissa is ready to lead by example.
Melissa wants to ensure the safety of our drinking water and safety of communities living around power plants. She will support legislation that ensures there are protects against contamination from coal fields and runoff from pesticides and chemicals. As we transition away from coal, solar is one of the fastest growing industries in the commonwealth. Melissa wants to make sure that training programs are in place so energy workers have the skills they need to adapt along with the market.
We owe a debt to veterans that goes beyond gratitude. Too many veterans do not receive the homecoming they deserve when they transition back into civilian life. Melissa supports initiatives to reintegrate our veterans and provide training programs to hone skills developed while in the service in order to thrive outside of it. This also entails providing funding for robust mental health services for men and women suffering from PTSD.