Miller-Meeks will make another run for Congress
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Mariannette Miller-Meeks is making her third bid for a U.S. Congressional seat, announcing about a month ago she would be seeking the seat currently held by Second Congressman Dave Loebsack-D Iowa.
For the past three years, Miller-Meeks has been director of the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). She said that she consulted with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad before launching her congressional office and by mutual consent, they decided it would be best to resign her state post.
“The governor was pleased with my performance (with the IDPH) and I could have stayed if he were re-elected,” she said during a recent stop at the Mt. Pleasant News. “However, we both thought it was not a good idea for me being out campaigning while being paid.”
The Ottumwa Republican who made bids for the same seat in 2008 and 2010, said the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a major factor in her decision to run again.
“I’m running because as a doctor (she is an ophthalmologist), I couldn’t sit on the sidelines as the Affordable Care Act jeopardizes the health care of Iowans. We were promised that premiums would go down and quality and access would go up, but we’re seeing the opposite as the law is being implemented.
“It (decision) had a lot to do with health care (ACA) and what unfolded,” she continued. “People were caught off guard. They were told they could keep their health insurance. They didn’t expect to lose their health insurance if they had it and were happy with it. The website also proved to be a big debacle.”
Miller-Meeks completed her high school education at age 16 through an accelerated studies program. She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in nursing and enlisted in the military as a nurse at age 20. She earned her master of science degree from the University of Southern California, and following six more years on active duty, she entered the University of Texas medical school and graduated at the top of her class.
Another reason for her candidacy is the dysfunction in Washington, D.C. “Washington is a dysfunctional mess,” she began, “and it’s time to send someone there who has real world experience bringing people together to solve problems — like implementing better patient-centered health-care reforms and restoring accountability in government.
“As the director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, I’ve seen firsthand what can be done when you put partisanship aside and work for the greater good. I want to bring that problem-solving, common-sense Iowa attitude to Congress. Washington needs more of this Iowa approach.”
She said that Washington’s attitude is to separate people, “but a better approach would be to respect the diversity of viewpoints.”
After completing her residency in ophthalmology at the University of Iowa, she joined the faculty at the University of Michigan. She was soon recruited back to the University of Iowa, becoming the first female faculty member in UI’s Department of Ophthamology. She was also the first female president of the Iowa Medical Society (2006).
Later, Miller-Meeks owned a small ophthalmology practice in Ottumwa and experience as a business owner provided other lessons.
“Having run a small business and living in southeast Iowa, I know that people are really squeezed,” she noted. “We need more economic growth in southeast Iowa and higher wages. It is very important that we increase take-home pay.”
Finally, she said government must be accountable. “As a veteran, it is very important to me what happened in Benghazi. It is very important to me what happened with the Internal Revenue Service (controversy with IRS and conservative groups). It is very important to me about the government eavesdropping on people’s email and cellphone calls. I have more gave concerns about the amount and level of this eavesdropping.”
A self-described fiscal conservative, she said that there are methods to deal with the federal budget rather “than asking people for more money when everyone is squeezed. I had to make some cuts when I started at the department of health. Lean concepts can be brought in to make government more efficient.”
Miller-Meeks does have primary opposition, which she terms “a good thing. The benefit is that you have to put your infrastructure together earlier and get your name out there. Personally, I think primaries are a good as long as the party is not divided.”
Having been out on the campaign trail for about a month, she said her message has been favorably received. “It has been fabulous, and I have detected a lot of momentum on our side. I have been told by people that they saved their yard signs from four years ago and were anxious to put them out again. There has been positive support out there (for her candidacy).”
The primary election in Iowa is June 3.