By Sierra Henry | The Goldsboro News-Argus

Dr. Kyle Horton pledged to bolster veteran health care benefits as part of her platform for the U.S. House District 7 seat.

Horton, a Democrat, is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. David Rouzer in the November general election.

Horton held her 13th town hall meeting at St. Mark’s Christian Church Tuesday evening to discuss the three main focuses of her congressional campaign: defending and strengthening veteran health care and benefits, affordable health care and environmental protection, particularly coastlines.

As a certified internal medicine physician with experience working with the Veterans Affairs, Horton said she believes she can use her knowledge to push for policies that benefit families and veterans.

One of her policies for health care would include lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 50 and implementing regional market places to supplement areas that might not have access to health care.

“Specifically, what we’re advocating for is to lower the Medicare eligible age to 50 and to federally expand Medicaid, and to basically set up regional market places so states like North Carolina and in the south where we haven’t expanded Medicaid, we (can) ensure that people can still access health care and we cover people with a regional market place,” Horton said.

Horton said she believes lowering the eligibility age is necessary because by the time people reach age 50, they are more likely to experience chronic health problems.

“What that would do is, at the time you get to age 50, you’re more likely to have more chronic medical problems and cancer — you’re also more likely to be laid off your job and lose your employer-based coverage,” Horton said.

Horton is also a strong supporter for strengthening health care for veterans, especially mental health. She also advocates for policies that would address unemployment challenges for military spouses by supporting increasing service member and family pay, as well as extending benefits for families who are moved to another base.

“As we know in communities like this for military spouses, unemployment has been in double digits quite frequently and a lot of it is because, as you’re moving around as a service family, we uproot people, they can’t get established, they can’t complete their degree program …” Horton said. “One (policy) is, we need to ensure that we are paying our service members a living wage.

“There’s no excuse for families that bravely serve this country to be using food stamps at the commissary.”

So, I support increasing service member and family pay. I support also extending benefits from the time frame that they’ve been after a permanent change of station to give more of a buffer so kids can stay in school, you can complete your degree or find a new job if you’re having to relocate.”

Chris Stevenson is a retired Vietnam War veteran who has volunteered for Horton’s campaign for the past year. After the town hall meeting where community members had the opportunity to ask Horton questions about her policies, Stevenson spoke about why he supports Horton’s campaign.

“She has a message that resonates with me,” he said. “We write a check with our bodies and our lives, and some of us give our entire youth to this country. What we’re getting back is nothing. We have the opportunity right here, right now to change how things in North Carolina are done.

“If we do not change it now, there are some of us who will not be around the next time the opportunity comes around for us to make a change in this state.”

Horton said that if she were elected she would plan on holding regular public forums and town hall meetings during her district work weeks.

“We should expect regular public forums from representatives, and so town halls should be held every district work week, and I think people should demand that their representatives host townhalls and show up for them,” Horton said.

Horton is a graduate of Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, where she earned both her doctorate of medicine and master of business administration degree. If she were elected, she would be the first woman to represent U.S. House District 7.

Bobby Jones, of Goldsboro, attended Horton’s town hall to hear her platform.

“This was a town hall meeting, and I wanted to see what it was about,” Jones said. “I think we need to put our candidates to the test to see what they say they’re going to do.

“We have a history of just letting people get in office without putting expectations and holding accountability.”

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