Garrett seeks 3rd term

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By John Barnhart

    Delegate Scott Garrett, who represents the 23rd District in the House of Delegates, unseated an incumbent in 2009 to win his first term in the General Assembly. He said he learned that, in order to win an election, a candidate must get out and see where people are. He added that, once elected, a delegate needs to keep doing that; it’s important to get out and listen.

    “If you’re just willing to get out and listen to people, you’ll learn a lot from people,” he said.
    Garrett said that what he is hearing is that job creation is his constituents number one concern. He believes that one of the most effective steps the General Assembly can take to promote job creation is to lighten up on regulation. Garrett believes excessive regulation is a burden on small businesses and makes businesses reluctant to take risks.
    He believes that keeping Virginia a right-to-work state is important for job creation.
    There are some things the General Assembly can’t directly control. One of these is ObamaCare. Garrett said that ObamaCare is leaving small businesses afraid to break the 50-employee threshold.
    “The rules of the game are unknown,” Garrett said.
    He said individuals are also frustrated, and concerned about what their insurance premiums will be.
    Not that ObamaCare is all bad. Garrett said there are some positive elements in what he called a “monstrosity of a bill.”
    Garrett said the portability of insurance for people who change jobs is good, as is the ability to get coverage for pre-existing conditions.
    He also sees the extension of the age at which people can still stay on their parents’ policies as a positive.
    “I think people in general find this attractive,” Garret said.
    However, Garrett believes two large gorillas lurk in the bill.
    “Providing the care is the 1,000-pound gorilla,” Garrett said. He said that, at present there are not enough doctors.
    That leads to what he called the “2,000 pound gorilla.” People expect the care to be available once they have the insurance.
    “You can’t just turn a key and create one of me,” he said.
    Garrett is a retired surgeon whose focus was trauma and oncology. He said it takes 12 years of education to prepare a doctor for the work he did.
    ObamaCare also calls for a Medicaid expansion, something that falls under state control, as states can decline to expand the program. Garrett said state Medicaid rolls will increase by between 400,000 and 450,000 people above the current level of 987,000 if Medicaid is expanded to cover those at 136 percent of the federal poverty level. Garrett questions whether there will be enough  doctors  to   care   for these people, or how many doctors will accept these new Medicaid patients.
    There are also dual eligibles — people who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. He said the federal government wants them moved to Medicaid, and this creates a problem.
    “There are more physicians who take new Medicare folks than take new Medicaid folks,” he said.
    One of the areas that the General Assembly can directly impact is public education.
    “What I hear now is the SOLs [Standards of Learning tests] are not working,” Garrett said. He said the demands of the SOLs force teachers to teach to the test instead of teaching problem solving and critical thinking skills.
    Garrett believes standardized testing is needed to measure success, but he expects the General Assembly to focus on revising the way Virginia’s SOL tests work.
    Garrett serves on the House Finance Committee, Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee and Transportation Committee.