Seven Answers for Chattanooga Times Free Press’ Clif Cleaveland, M.D.

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My name is Chad Riden and I’m an Independent candidate for Governor of Tennessee. I read Clif Cleaveland, M.D.’s June 26th, 2018 piece in the Chattanooga Times Free Press entitled “Seven questions for Tennessee’s candidates for governor” in which Doctor Cleaveland wrote, “A survey of websites of candidates for Tennessee Governor show few specifics regarding health care… Seven questions need answers.” I agree that these issues are too important to go unanswered. Here are my responses:

1. Is access to health care a right or a privilege?

A right. I support #MedicareForAll. Medicare is more efficient than private insurance companies whose primary concern is profits.

2. Do you favor expansion of TennCare?


3. How would you improve health-care manpower and facilities in poor counties?
How can they be stabilized?
What role do you see for telemedicine and mobile clinics for underserved areas?
Would enhanced services by county health departments or school-based clinics provide solutions?

I like the suggestions The Rural Health Information Hub offers including: Frontier Extended Stay Clinics (FESC) which help seriously ill patients or injured patients who cannot be immediately transferred to a hospital; and Team-based care models, such as Patient-Centered Medical Homes (PCMHs), which extend primary care services in rural communities. Telemedicine is a fantastic way for patients to see specialists in a timely manner no matter where they are. County health departments and school-based clinics seem like a no-brainer to me.

4. Is there a role for the state in addressing rising costs of prescription drugs?
Could the state facilitate importation of less expensive drugs from Canada?

Yes. Many states offer State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs (SPAPs) to help residents pay for prescription drugs. Also, just an FYI: I don’t know how helpful it is but as a resident of Tennessee, you and your family already have access to a free statewide Prescription Assistance Program (PAP):

5. How do you propose addressing illicit use of opioids, methamphetamine and cocaine?

I support legalized cannabis. Multiple studies have shown that after states legalized cannabis, the number of opioid prescriptions and the daily dose of opioids went way down.

Instead of prison, I like prosecution-led residential drug treatment diversion programs that divert nonviolent felony drug offenders to community-based residential treatment.

6. What is the role of state government in addressing high rates of childhood obesity?
Can state government promote healthier diets and increased recreational exercise?
Or is this meddling in personal matters?

I agree with the CDC suggestion that the best course of action is a comprehensive approach to addressing childhood obesity in schools with a focus on nutrition and physical activity with programs following the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model.

7. What is the role of state government in addressing gun-related violence and accidents involving firearms?

I support criminal background checks on all gun sales to keep guns out of the hands of people with dangerous histories, including felons, domestic abusers and people with dangerous mental illnesses. Responsible gun owners know that supporting the Second Amendment goes hand in hand with common-sense solutions to reduce gun violence. My campaign has been given the Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate distinction for standing up for gun violence prevention and recognizing gun safety.

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I hope I answered these questions to your satisfaction. Thank you for helping raise awareness about these important issues. As Governor of Tennessee, my main focus would be economic revitalization spurred by implementation of fiber optic internet as a state-wide public utility. I support our public schools and don’t think any elected official should make one dime more than the lowest paid teacher. I’m for unionized labor, anti-discrimination laws, #MedicareForAll, and the legalization of Cannabis. I’d like to build high speed rail connecting Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Bristol and regional transit systems. I’m against outsourcing State tasks to for-profit businesses (including and especially charter schools and privatized prisons), voter suppression, discrimination, racism, sexism, hate, fear, and ignorance. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Chad Riden