As a medical professional and state representative, Yadira Caraveo could have done without the “anti-science current,” as she called it. Yet, she’s grateful for how her expertise continues to …
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As a medical professional and state representative, Yadira Caraveo could have done without the “anti-science current,” as she called it. Yet, she’s grateful for how her expertise continues to serve her at the state Capitol.
The legislature reconvened Feb. 16 after a hiatus from January. Going into the session, Caraveo, a Democrat from Thornton and a full-time pediatrician, is making healthcare a top priority. And while that’s always been the case for her, the stakes are even higher with the COVID-19 pandemic. Caraveo spoke with us about her legislative goals in a moment when public health dictates everyone’s lives.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Colorado Community Media: Being a medical professional and state legislator, how have you been processing events of the past year?
State Rep. Yadira Caraveo: Like with any other institution, including healthcare, it’s figuring how to respond and change, based on this life-changing pandemic. It’s the biggest challenge that most of us who are alive have been through. We have realized that our system was not ready for a pandemic like this. So, I’m thinking about what kinds of changes do we need to make to healthcare and our systems overall to prepare for this in the future. I also think it uncovered even further how inequitable the healthcare system is.
CCM: In which concrete ways does that translate for this session?
Caraveo: I am going to be running a bill on prescription bill costs to basically create a board that will look at the most expensive medications in the state. And what those prices are and why it is that they’re so expensive. Also, Rep. Kyle Mullica and I will be running a bill that looks at workforce issues around healthcare. We’re going to be looking at creating a task force that can cross-train individuals who already have medical training so that in the case of another health emergency, we can more easily move people around in the areas that they need. So, with healthcare, we’re looking both at what happened with the pandemic, how we prepare for another one and then just the system and costs overall.
CCM: In a separate conversation with state Rep. Mullica, he said the healthcare corps bill is really the first of its kind. How did it come together?
Caraveo: We were just talking about being healthcare providers in the pandemic, overall. The day after we left session, he went back to the emergency room. The week after, I went back to clinic. We were having two different experiences. He was being run ragged, as were his colleagues. And then he ended up going to Chicago to help there. And then I was seeing a smattering of kids who were ill and well-child checks. So, we were just kind of spitballing one day, saying, `You know, I wonder how we could change this?’ And then we came up with the idea of, `Wouldn’t it be neat if the state had something kind of like the National Guard but with all healthcare providers?’ Every once and a while, as a legislator, you’re like, ‘That would be really cool if someone did that.’ And then you’re like, ‘Oh, wait, we can actually do that.’
CCM: If there was ever a moment to be a doctor to a state legislator, it would be now. How are you personally processing it all?
Caraveo: It has been a good year and a bad year. It has led people to realize the constant work that healthcare professionals do to protect health and to help the public. It’s also been a really frustrating year to be a healthcare provider. Because, while most people are appreciative of that, you definitely have the people who don’t believe COVID exists. Or they refuse to wear masks, no matter what anybody tells them. There’s this heavy, anti-science current that has just become all the more apparent in the last year. So, it is both a great time to say, `Here is my expertise and you all understand how important that expertise is now.’ But sometimes people get uncomfortable with the fact that science maybe has something to say that they disagree with.
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