Ralph treated veterans through the VA and is appalled at the national scandal in the federal department. Unlike President Trump, Ralph knows we must uphold our commitment to ensuring veterans have timely access to quality healthcare. As a member of the current administration, Ralph participated in the governor’s Summit on Veterans Health Care, which led to Virginia becoming the first state to develop provider agreements between the VA and community health centers to give veterans greater access to healthcare facilities of their choice, in their communities. Ralph also supported plans to build new veterans care centers in Fauquier County and Virginia Beach. Ralph will use his position as governor to be a leader in pushing Washington to reform the VA so that every veteran receives the medical care they need, when they need it.
Donald Trump has made his first priority as president to roll back women’s access to reproductive healthcare and to take us back to the days before Roe v. Wade. Ralph is committed to fighting for Virginia women, especially their right to quality, affordable healthcare. As a physician, Ralph believes women’s healthcare choices are personal and best left between a woman and her doctor—not politicians in Richmond or Washington, DC. Ralph will fight for women so they can decide when to start a family, and he is an advocate for expanding access to long-acting reversible contraceptives like IUDs, as well as protecting a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion. As a state senator, Ralph led the fight against the invasive transvaginal ultrasound mandate and opposed legislation that would limit access to women’s health clinics. Ralph is proud to have a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood.
Ralph passed legislation to establish firm guidelines for dealing with concussions incurred playing sports in Virginia schools. As a pediatric neurologist, Ralph knew the brains of growing adolescents are even more susceptible to long-term consequences from multiple concussions.
Against long odds and powerful special interests, Ralph authored the smoking ban in restaurants because it would improve Virginia’s economy and public health. When he first tried in 2008, the bill was defeated and the headwinds were too strong. In 2009, he came right back and introduced it again. Reaching across the aisle, he passed the smoking ban and Governor Kaine signed it into law. Today, cancer deaths are down in Virginia and below the national average.
Whether or not politicians care to admit it, climate change is real, and Ralph has been fighting to address its effects for years. As a state senator, Ralph brought legislation to create a coastal flooding working group to study how Virginia’s coastal communities can prepare for the effects of climate change. Today, Ralph serves on the Governor’s climate change commission, which is tasked with recommending ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ralph is committed to fighting air pollution to benefit our natural resources, but also, as a pediatrician, to protect public health against the respiratory illnesses and chronic lung conditions, like childhood asthma, that are exacerbated by air pollution.
Addiction and substance abuse
In the 1980s, Virginia and our country were facing a public health crisis—the crack epidemic. Unfortunately, instead of caring for those suffering from addiction, our nation placed blame on its victims. We can’t repeat that mistake. Currently, three Virginians are dying each day from accidental overdose, and in 2016, more than 800 Virginians died from overdose. During his tenure as lieutenant governor, Virginia increased access to naloxone, the drug needed to counter the effects of opioid overdose. Ralph believes we must continue to expand access to new substance abuse treatment options and drug courts. Ralph will use his medical expertise to lead on addiction and substance abuse.