Valerie Arkoosh, MD, is a former Chair of Anesthesiology, a health policy expert, and a candidate for Congress running in the Democratic primary in the 13th Pennsylvania district. We recently had time to speak to Dr. Arkoosh about her career as a physician and what she hopes to accomplish if elected to Congress.
What are the most important skills you learned as a Chair that will help you if you are elected to Congress?
As an anesthesiologist you learn very early how to always appear calm!
But, really, I think the skills of bringing people together who often have very different viewpoints about what needs to happen next.
And, getting people to sit down and talk and getting agreement on whatâ€™s in the best interests of our mission and really keeping people focused on the most important thing.
I really honed those skills and, frankly, I think those skills will be really incredibly useful in congress
If you are elected to Congress what will be your first priority legislatively?
Number one on my list is raising minimum wage.
If we havenâ€™t already raised the minimum wage by then that would certainly be one of the first pieces of legislation that I would like to get involved with.
We have 35,000 families â€¦. in the 13th living at poverty level or below. Two thirds of minimum wage workers are women and this is really an issue that needs addressing and quickly.Â Some states have already raised the minimum wage
Right now, Pennsylvania uses the federal minimum wage which is $7.25/hr. The president has proposed raising that to $10.10 and that just happens to coincide with whatâ€™s considered a living wage here in the Philadelphia area for a single adult.
A living wage takes into account what it costs to buy food, rent, those sorts of things in any community. What is difficult is that if you look at what it costs for an adult with one child here in the Philadelphia area that living wage jumps to almost $20/hr.
So, we are not going to have a minimum wage in that range obviously. But,Â I think what has to go hand and glove with that number is also making sure that people have access to affordable child care, that they have paid family medical leave, some of these other pieces that can make that living wage not so difficult to achieve .
Do you support the proposed increase to the $10 figure supported by the President?
I would much prefer it to be closer to $12. I think here in the Philadelphia area that gets us in a much better position for more people.
What is one little known fun fact about you?
I just love to eat candy. Iâ€™m like a little kid with candy. I have a real sweet tooth.
Disclosure – the interviewer is a long-time colleague and admirer and supporter of Dr. Arkoosh’s endeavors, starting with jointly performed liver transplants many years ago up to the current campaign for Congress.