On Tuesday, Nov. 3, Wyoming will vote to send two women to congress. Former Republican Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis is running against University of Wyoming Professor Merav Ben-David for retiring Sen. Mike Enzi's U.S. Senate seat. The two differ on almost everything, especially when it comes to health care, climate change and the future of Wyoming's economy.
On the House side, two-term U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney is facing off against Democrat Lynette Greybull who is the first known Native American to seek a Wyoming congressional seat. Greybull told Wyoming Public Radio that she's used her time in the limelight to target some key issues.
"Yes, it gives me the opportunity to push out issues that I feel like a lot of people who live in disadvantaged or even poor communities face," said Greybull.
Greybull has devoted her career to dealing with issues ranging from poverty to building communities and, lately, missing and murdered indigenous women. During a recent debate she chided Cheney for opposing the Violence Against Women Act, which led to a post-debate discussion between the two that both described as educational and positive.
Cheney currently ranks third in House Republican leadership. She's used the campaign to tell Wyoming businesses that she's planning on supporting more COVID-19 aid, but sometimes it's harder than it looks.
"So we need to make sure we're providing continued resources, but that they need to be targeted, and they need to be responsible, we need to make sure that we're not just going down the path of agreeing to what we've seen Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrats try to pass, which includes a lot of funding that's completely unrelated to COVID," said Cheney.
Cheney added that included proposals which ranged from supporting the Kennedy Center to voting impacts. As for COVID-19 relief aid, Cheney said while Wyoming has received millions in federal aid, she understands the concern and frustration many continue to feel. She said she supports targeted aid to help people who truly need it.
When it comes to aid, Greybull remembers working hard to help people during the recession several years ago and favors a targeted plan that doesn't just provide aid. She said Congress should try and find solutions to a number of problems. "Looking at our unemployment, how can we stop our unemployment rate from continuing just to rise?" Greybull also asked, "How do we look at ensuring that American people are not being not only evicted, but possibly losing their mortgages?" Greybull added food security to the list of concerns.
On the topic of health care both Cheney and Greybull know that the Affordable Care Act will be back on the table after the election, especially since the future of the ACA could be decided by the courts. For Cheney, her first priority would be to keep the country from moving to a Medicare-for-all model. She argues that could actually hurt those who want to keep their insurance and drain resources from those who currently use Medicare. Cheney also stressed that she and other Republicans are supporters of protecting those with pre-existing conditions, contradicting what Democrats have said. Since ACA reforms haven't gone far, Cheney said she has tried different approaches, such as getting legislation passed to expand telehealth.
"You know, provide for some of the reimbursements that had been allowed during the COVID pandemic, that would extend those so that we make sure that people can get access to their doctors, recognizing that in many, many instances the long distances and the challenges with weather and everything else that people across the state face," Cheney noted. "Now you've got COVID in the mix, and so making sure people can continue to see their physicians and to do it through telehealth."
Cheney added addressing drug pricing, overall price transparency and access to COVID treatments as things she would focus on.
Greybull said she's nervous about plans to shift away from the ACA into something else, mainly because of the pre-existing condition issue, but she added that the cost of the insurance is the number one complaint she hears. She knows about stories of people who got insurance subsidies taken away which led to their inability to afford coverage through the federal marketplace. She recalled this happened to a friend of hers.
"It went from like $200 to $600. And even though she got a raise, she didn't make enough money to afford insurance on her own because that was, if she got it on her own, it was a $800," said Greybull.