SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA (WJHL) – Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine toured Southwest Virginia on Friday to look at area programs related to health care.
Kaine’s first stop was at the RAM Clinic in Wise County, Va., where he volunteered at the registration desk. The senator has been coming to the Wise RAM Clinic since 2002.
“The uplifting piece is the tremendous energy and enthusiasm of volunteers who come from all over Virginia, but also all over the country to help out,” Kaine said. “Dental hygienists, docs, psychiatrists, the Lion’s Club that has a specialty in vision screenings … so that’s really uplifting but the heartbreaking thing is to see in this very … wealthy and compassionate nation that people don’t have access to healthcare.”
His next stop in Southwest Virginia was at the Highlands Community Services Children’s Campus in Abingdon
News Channel 11 crews were able to speak to Kaine at the campus, where he toured the facility that cares for the mental health of children in Southwest Virginia, as well as spoke to administrators of the campus about a range of topics including Medicaid.
“I wanted to see it (the campus) because this is a different model than many communities use and it’s relevant to the discussion about healthcare we are having, because so much of these services are paid for by Medicaid,” Kaine said. “And the Medicaid program is kind of maybe the key pillar to this vote that we’re going to be having next week.”
“I can’t say it exist nowhere else in Virginia, but I’ve been in politics in Virginia for 23 years and I’ve never seen another one like this,” he said about the children’s campus.
Whether talking about the RAM Clinic or the HCS Children’s Campus, the theme of Kaine’s message was clear: He wants the health care debate to be sent to the committee’s of Congress, rather than being taken directly to the floor without bipartisan discussion.
He told us he wants to use what he learned Friday in Southwest Virginia to go back and share with his colleagues, and hopefully get something positive done for health care.
“I wanted to come hear what they’re doing, and then that will help me with my colleagues (and) hopefully make a better case for programs like this (the children’s campus), but also hopefully convince them that big cuts to Medicaid are not the smart thing to do,” Kaine said.
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