I am a practicing physician and I know firsthand just how important access to quality health care is for Virginia families. As the owner of a private practice, the volunteer medical director at the Edmarc Hospice for Children, and teacher at the Eastern Virginia Medical School I understand how we can strengthen our health care system. Our health care system was broken, and we have made strides in the right direction toward improving access to high quality, affordable health care for all Americans.
Our work is not yet done. Last year, I sponsored legislation that would have had Virginia take a proactive approach to setting up health care exchanges, and I remain committed to lowering insurance costs and expanding coverage to uninsured Virginians. In the Senate I worked to create a pathway to Medicaid expansion because it will save taxpayers billions of dollars and create over 30,000 new health care related jobs in Virginia. We must make the right and prudent decision to expand Medicaid coverage, rather than walking away from federal money that could help make sick people well. Expanding Medicaid means that over 32,000 military and their families will gain health care coverage.
I also understand that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That's why I was proud to patron the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act. In 2009, I worked with Governor Tim Kaine and leaders in both parties to pass this important legislation that banned smoking in Virginia restaurants. In 2010, I sponsored the Student Athlete Protection Act, which requires new guidelines for protecting young athletes from brain damage due to sports related concussions.
As a member of the Virginia Foundation for Health Youth Board of Trustees, I have worked to help this organization dramatically reduce rates of teen smoking in Virginia, and also sponsored legislation allowing the Foundation to take on childhood obesity, which is becoming an epidemic in our country. I am confident that with hard work we will find success in that endeavor as well. However, we still have many challenges to overcome to make our Commonwealth healthier and reduce our health care costs, and I look forward to taking on those challenges as Lieutenant Governor.