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Candidate's wife talks health care in Danville

October 19, 2012

Danville Register & Bee

By: Tiffany Holland

With 18 days left in this year’s campaign, Susan Allen, the wife of former Virginia governor and current U.S. Senate candidate George Allen, came to Danville and visited Danville Regional Medical Center to meet with staff and administrators.

One of the issues that came up was the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. George Allen has said many times he would like to be the deciding vote to repeal Obamacare if he gets elected to the Senate. After the Supreme Court ruled the act was constitutional but also a tax, it will take just 51 votes in the Senate to overturn it.

The Republican-led House has voted to repeal it 33 times, but Democrats control the Senate. When asked about the likelihood of whether it could actually be repealed, Susan Allen told DRMC administrators there is a “very good chance” since she expects to see a change in the Senate and have her husband get elected to replace outgoing Democratic Sen. Jim Webb.

Allen was joined in her discussion with DRMC officials by Delegate Danny Marshall, R-Danville, who said he is trying to push legislation on the state level to provide business incentives to bring doctors and medical professionals to rural areas — which Allen seemed to support.

Danville, like many rural regions, is battling a shortage of health care professionals and DRMC is working with local schools like Danville Community College and Averett University to get more health care jobs filled by local people and recruit new people to the area.

Allen mostly listened about issues in the local health care community. She said after traveling around the commonwealth for a year and half on the campaign trail, nearly every small business she encountered has asked the repeal of Obamacare.

She said it puts a burden on small businesses, causing their distaste, and this is what is going to get the Affordable Care Act overturned, saying she believed in “people power.”

On her tour of DRMC she saw some of the new technological advancements the hospital has for mammograms and breast cancer screenings — they can now be done quicker and more accurately than ever. Allen’s mother-in-law has battled breast cancer twice and she said awareness and fighting for the cure is something that resonates personally to her and her husband.

George Allen has been criticized heavily in the campaign on women’s health care issues by his opponent, former Gov. Tim Kaine. Kaine told the Danville Register & Bee last month that he has seen a “really big differential” of women’s support in the race. He uses Allen’s votes against the Family Medical Leave Act, support of the Personhood amendment to the Constitution and support of the Blunt amendment, which could enable employers to take away contraceptive coverage as examples of why Allen does not support women’s issues.

“It’s demeaning to suggest that issues about women are just social issues and not economic issues. If you force women to have an ultrasound procedure against their will, and pay for it, that’s an economic issue,” said Kaine in a radio advertisement. “… These are women’s issues but they’re bigger than that, they’re family issues and they’re economic issues. Women are more than half of this economy and we have to make the right policies about women if we’re going to have the kind of economy that we want.”

When asked about this criticism, Susan Allen slightly shook her head.

“Some politicians will say anything to get elected,” said Allen. “I think it’s really important that voters understand George’s commitment to all Virginians. His mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor, I’ve worked on breast cancer issues for years and did so as First Lady — I’ve worked on wellness issues.”

She said what she and her husband hear most is that Virginians are “really worried about the economic climate and the policies coming out of Washington including mandating health care which has really stifled growth.”

And that, Allen said, is what most families are really concerned about. This is at least the second public trip Susan Allen has take to Danville. The Allen campaign has been to the area many times during the campaign, lobbying hard to turn out the Republican voters in Southside.