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Congresswoman advocates for universal healthcare, solution for opioid epidemic

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Congresswoman Susan Ellen “Zoe” Lofgren ’70, a Democrat serving California’s 19th district, expressed her support for universal healthcare and pushed for a solution to the opioid epidemic in an event at the medical school on Monday afternoon. The event raised issues surrounding the future of healthcare for various communities across the United States. 

Lofgren has been an outspoken supporter of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which provides health coverage for over 20 million Americans but has been at the forefront of the recent Democratic Primary Debates. She reported speaking to working families who find it difficult to afford private coverage due to the high cost of prescription medications and health care premiums — as well as constituents who say they prefer the health insurance they receive from employers or private providers. 

At the event in the Clark Center auditorium, Lofgren said that she would support any of the universal healthcare bills proposed by legislators since “the Justice Department has refused to defend” the ACA.

On Medicare for All, Lofgren said, “We need to look at what’s driving it, which is cost, access and quality, to see how we can make that work for the American people.”

She also credited her colleague, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, for being instrumental in passing the ACA. 

The congresswoman also spoke on the opioid crisis across the country, which the moderator said has resulted in the death of 400,000 Americans. 

“It’s a shame on America that, when drug addiction was primarily in minority communities, we said, ‘Well, that’s a criminal justice issue,’” Lofgren said. “Now that there are white communities, we’re saying it’s a health issue.” 

Before her career in the U.S. House of Representatives, Lofgren served on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors for 14 years. She is currently the chair of the Committee on House Administration and Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship. 

Lofgren also blasted the border wall, proposed by the Trump Administration as an effort to prevent drug trade. She denied that it was a solution to the issue of immigration since the opioids are being transported through ports of entry, not “across the desert.” She charged that the proposed border wall “will not do anything but feed the ego of the current chief executive.”

Anne-Marie Duliege reflected on the event by praising the Congresswoman as “so bottom-line and facts oriented” and for providing “such an overview of the variety of topics that are intertwined.” 

Lofgren was born and raised in San Mateo, CA and attended Gunn High School in Palo Alto. In her first year at Stanford, Lofgren received a partial scholarship to attend university and worked as a student to afford tuition. Lofgren shared insights for students interested in the marriage between public policy and medicine, telling The Daily that “having an impact” is not limited to serving in public office. 

“You can be a physician. You can be a professor. You can be someone who speaks up,” she said. “Never be afraid and never give up.”

Contact Leily Rezvani at lrezvani ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Leily Rezvani is the managing editor of podcasts and a desk editor of news. She is a sophomore majoring in Symbolic Systems in hopes of better understanding the intersection between technology and the humanities. Leily has interned for National Public Radio, Google Arts and Culture, the United Nations Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Contact Leily at lrezvani ‘at’ stanford.edu.