I’m a nurse. In my work, I’ve seen patients ration medication because they couldn’t afford it — or skip treatments altogether. I’ve seen patients die because our for-profit health care system put their shareholders’ profits over saving lives.
I also know what it’s like to be uninsured. While running for office, I contracted COVID-19 and didn’t have health insurance. When I was having trouble breathing, a friend was inclined to call 911 for an ambulance to transport her to the hospital, but I begged her not to because I knew I couldn’t afford it. I believe health care is a fundamental human right and that no person should have to refuse to seek out medical care because they can’t afford it.
The fight for health care justice is personal to me. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated the racial and socioeconomic barriers too many low-income, Black and brown communities face to accessing high quality health care. I believe the only – only – way forward is joining the rest of the developed world and enacting a single-payer, universal health care system that guarantees high-quality, affordable, and comprehensive care for every person in America.
We need Medicare For All.
And as we work towards making that our reality — we need to deliver victories for regular, everyday people. Slashing prescription drug prices. Eliminating the racial health disparities that kill Black mothers and birthing people at a rate 4 times higher than that of white mothers and pregnant people. Protecting and expanding access to reproductive health care. That’s our work in Congress every single day.
In Congress, I was appointed to the powerful House Oversight Committee where I championed Medicare for All, affordable prescription drugs, reproductive justice, and health equity, and where I led the effort for the first congressional hearing on Medicare For All since the start of the pandemic. I am a proud member of the Medicare For All Caucus, Pro-Choice Caucus, and Black Maternal Health Caucus.
Protect Health Care as a Fundamental Human Right
- Pass Medicare For All. In Congress, I will not only cosponsor and support the Medicare For All Act, but I will continue to lead by keeping Medicare For All front and center in the national debate on health care. I was proud to co-chair and lead efforts to hold a historic Medicare For All hearing this past March — the first congressional hearing on the topic in three years and the first ever hearing on Medicare For All for the House Oversight Committee. I believe that every person – regardless of race, income, employment, disability or immigration status – should have access to high-quality, comprehensive, and free health care, including access to lower cost prescription drugs, long-term care, and abortion care.
- Lower the cost of prescription drugs. As a nurse, I have seen the devastation high cost prescription drugs have caused on the lives of children, families, and individuals all across America. It’s why I have fought so fiercely to lower the price of lifesaving prescription drugs in Congress. That work will continue as we work to cap the monthly price of insulin at $35, expand prescription drug coverage to those who are uninsured, and end the corporate greed that has put prescription medications out of reach for millions of people. In Congress, I will continue to support efforts to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drugs, hold drug manufacturers accountable, end price gouging, and enforce antitrust laws to break up drug monopolies.
- Preserve Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP. Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), collectively enroll more than 130 million Americans, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). These programs provide a critical safety net for seniors and families struggling to afford quality healthcare. Republican proposals like those in Missouri threaten to undermine these critical protections by creating block grants or privatizing core services. In Congress, I will continue advocating for the preservation of these programs, and work to ensure that they remain sustainable for future generations.
Protect Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Freedom
- Repeal the Hyde Amendment and Protect Reproductive Rights. The prohibition on the use of federal funds to pay for abortion services disproportionately impacts low-income women, Black, brown, and Indigenous people, , immigrants, LGBTQIA+ people, and adolescents who rely on Medicaid for their health care coverage. In Congress, I will continue to be a fierce advocate for reproductive rights, and push to repeal this ban.
- Protect the Right to Access Complete and Accurate Reproductive Health Care Information. I will continue to oppose any cuts in funding or requirements that restrict a person’s right to access important information about their healthcare, including information about safe, legal abortion care. In Congress, I have supported and will continue to support the Women’s Health Protection Act to prohibit restrictive state and federal laws that interfere with reproductive health care services for women and pregnant people, including laws that prevent crisis pregnancy centers operating as comprehensive health care clinics from offering comprehensive information on the full range of health care options available to those in need.
- Destigmatize abortion care. Abortion care is health care and we must guarantee it as the fundamental human right that it is. Last year, during a hearing on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform I testified and shared for the first time my decision to get an abortion when I was 18 years old after I was raped while attending a church trip. It’s crucial for lawmakers to speak truthfully about the devastating affects restrictions on abortion care will have for those in need – particularly among Black and brown communities. I also understand how important it is to destigmatize abortion care, which is why I will continue to work to remove barriers to accessing essential health care like abortion care and family planning services.
- Abolish the filibuster. When news broke that the Supreme Court would overturn the landmark Roe v Wade case which upheld abortion as a constitutional right, I quickly got to work urging my colleagues in the United States Senate to abolish the archaic filibuster, codify Roe, and enact sweeping legislation to expand the Supreme Court. Within my first few months in office, I led 100 colleagues in urging the Senate to abolish the filibuster so that Congress could pass much needed legislation to protect communities of color, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, workers, immigrants, and other marginalized communities. In Congress, I will continue to fight to eliminate the archaic Jim Crow filibuster which continues to block vital legislation from moving forward.
- Prevent GOP efforts to restrict reproductive health care. I’ve led efforts to urge the Biden administration to enforce Medicaid laws and prohibit states like Missouri from blocking funding for family planning services aimed at further restricting access to abortion care. I will continue pushing back against targeted attempts by the Republicans in Missouri to restrict access to reproductive health care.
- Support Comprehensive Sexual Health Education. As a nurse, I understand the importance of providing comprehensive sexual health education in public schools. It helps teach young people vital information about consent, healthy dating, and the risks of intimate partner violence. In Congress, I will continue to fight for equitable access to sexual health education that is inclusive of LGBTQ+ youth, medically accurate, and promotes healthy relationships. I will cosponsor the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, which would provide grants for comprehensive sex education to public or private entities that focus on adolescent health and education or have experience with training sex educators.
Treat Substance Use as a Public Health Crisis
- End the War on Drugs. We need a new approach – an evidence-based approach that does not perpetuate further harm in communities of color. I was proud to introduce the Drug Policy Reform Act – first of its kind federal legislation – to decriminalize all drugs, expunge past drug convictions, and invest in a health-centered approach to substance-use. In Congress, I will continue to work to advance this transformational legislation and ensure we both treat substance use as the public health issue it is and repair the decades of harm and devastation that the misguided war on drugs has had on Black and brown communities.
- Address the opioid crisis. St. Louis ranks among the deadliest cities in the country for overdose deaths among Black people. According to a study by the University of Missouri–St. Louis opioid overdose deaths among Black people in St. Louis City and County increased by 560% in the last six years alone. We need to address the opioid crisis, including the use of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, as the public health crisis it is. In Congress, I will continue urging the executive branch to end Trump-era policy criminalizing fentanyl-related substances which has only further endangered people’s lives. We must invest more resources in expanding treatment and recovery options, increase outreach capacity in Black and brown communities, make Naloxone – a lifesaving opioid overdose reversal medication – available over the counter, and support health-based harm-reduction strategies that have been proven to save lives.
- Legalize marijuana. Despite the fact that 18 states have legalized marijuana, drug possession remains the most arrested offense in the United States. While the US accounts for the world’s largest prison population, the issue of drug use and possession has not declined. We need to divest from failed strategies that continue to direct funding toward law enforcement instead of making much-needed investments in communities. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I worked hard to advance the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act to decriminalize marijuana, expunge records, and prioritize equitable investments in communities harmed by the war on drugs. In Congress, I will continue fighting to make sure this legislation becomes law.
Promote Health-Based Approaches to Community Violence
- Pass the People’s Response Act. In Congress, I was proud to introduce the People’s Response Act – visionary legislation to end police brutality. This transformational legislation would provide evidence-based policy approaches to reduce contact with law enforcement, particularly for emergencies involving mental health crises, substance use, homelessness, and wellness checks, by replacing armed law enforcement officials with trained, unarmed health professionals. I will continue to work to deliver justice for communities that have been underfunded and underserved by providing us with the resources we need to move the response to mental health and other emergencies away from policing, prisons, and jails and instead towards care and treatment.
- Support community-based violence prevention programs. As your Congresswoman, I launched a gun violence prevention initiative that allowed my office to meet with families, survivors of non-fatal gun violence, advocates, and activists to hear directly from those most affected by this epidemic and develop solutions to address it. I am a proud cosponsor of the Break the Cycle of Violence Act which would provide federal grants to communities for evidence-informed community violence intervention and prevention programs designed to interrupt cycles of violence. I am also proud to have pushed for a historic $5 billion in funding through the House-passed Build Back Better Act to fund community violence intervention programs. I will continue to push Congress to pass gun safety and violence prevention legislation because we know it will save lives and prevent the trauma we are facing in our community.
- Support trauma-informed practices in schools. In a trauma-informed school, all of the adults in the school community are prepared and resourced to recognize and respond to students who have been impacted by trauma and toxic stress. Systems and structures are built to address the underlying context that impacts students’ behavior. As your Congresswoman, I will continue to champion critical investments in trauma informed education and specifically advocate for additional increases in flexible funding to support innovative local efforts on this front (through the Every Student Succeeds Act Title IV A) and new legislation calling for a trauma informed education toolkit highlighting evidence based approaches jointly developed by HHS and the Department of Education.
Invest in Mental Health Services. I’ve met with youth and families across our St. Louis community as part of our “Congress in Your Classroom” and “Victims of Gun Violence” initiatives and have heard overwhelmingly about the impact that pervasive gun violence has had on their lives and in our community. As your Congresswoman, and as a nurse who has worked in mental health care, I will continue pushing for robust investments in mental health services and support for families and communities disproportionately affected by gun violence.