Interview with Steve Cox
Give us a little background about yourself. Where do you come from? When about did you, and what made you enter the political realm?
I grew-up in Muhlenberg County Kentucky, and that’s where I was born. After high school, I wanted to understand the world a bit, and that’s what I focused on. I waited a few years before going to college, and while doing that wait, I get a job at a local pharmacy. Over time, I did go to college. I got a degree in criminal justice; special edition, online security, and emergency management.
As far as pharmacy goes, I moved into a leadership role with the pharmacy I work for. A lot of people really got organized and active along with the 2016 election, and that’s when I first started to really experience this type of anxiety. I realized there was an immense amount of things that we were facing as a society, and a lot of people were just ignoring them as though they weren’t a real threat.
This is not an exaggeration, I started to lose sleep at night over it. I started to speak to other people, and get more involved, and I found that the more involved, and the more I was trying to help change the world, the more I could actually sleep.
You touched on this with your pharmaceutical work, but media outlets I’ve seen are stating you as a healthcare advocate. Expanding on that, what’s your experience in the area of healthcare?
My experience is mainly through the perspective of a pharmacy. Besides dealing with drugs, we have to deal with patient care more than a pharmaceutical company would, that direct interaction with patients. Learning, for example, involving my dad, that Medicare does not cover dentures, was a pretty big shock to me. I thought that was a necessary thing as people got older, but it turns out that’s considered “not necessary.”
Medicare does not cover dentures. So what happens to those who don’t have any income? They are put in a Medicaid facility, they get put on a liquid diet, and it’s ultimately what kills them. They die from a “medical cause,” yes, but the underlying cause is the fact that you can’t live just purely on a liquid diet when you are already aging and frail.
Also servicing people who didn’t realize all the changes in healthcare. EpiPen for example, the issue has been resolved, but there was a time in the last couple of years that EpiPens skyrocketed in cost. I remember one interaction I had with a patient, where they had come in to get an EpiPen, but the cost had risen to over $200 for his prescription. He said, “I can’t afford that,” and I said, “I’m sorry sir,” because that’s really all you can say.
He then said, “I need these. I have allergic reactions. What am I supposed to do if I have an allergic reaction and I don’t have this?”And you just have to keep apologizing. You can’t tell him, “I’m sorry, your insurance company isn’t going to pay for this. If [an allergic reaction] happens you are going to die.” But that’s the truth of it.
You keep your platform brief and to the point: Medicare for All, the Environment/Climate Change, and Campaign Finance & Election Reform. To go right into those three topics, what is your position on these matters as the U.S. stands with them, and what do you believe needs to be done?
Medicare for All is something that absolutely needs to be done. Many people are concerned as to how this plan is going to affect each part of the healthcare system, and how are we going to pay for these things. But I have been involved with the insurance industry for a while now, and I do know that the cost for someone’s health insurance isn’t just the cost of mitigating the risk of them getting injured or sick, it’s also a matter of paying for the staff that runs the company. Lavish C.E.O. salaries. You can look up the C.E.O.’s salary for United Healthcare, and it’s egregious. With that, you are also paying for things like advertising. But in a Medicare for All system, a single-payer system, you get rid of the “for profit” mentality. You then focus on what’s best for the people. So Medicare for All eliminates a lot of the costs right out of the gate.
From a healthcare provider’s standpoint, when you go to the doctor, you have to give them your insurance card, and then they have to figure out if that’s valid, then they sometimes have to argue with the insurance company over what treatment is going to be covered and what is not. Under Medicare for All, it would eliminate that hassle, and it would streamline doctor visits and hospital visits because you would all be working on the same system.
Once you leave the doctor, a lot of times they are going to write you a prescription and a continued health plan afterward. When that goes to the pharmacist, and your insurance is billed, what happens there is either your insurance is going to say “yes,” “no” or “maybe,” which sounds odd, but “maybe” is more often the response than you would think what happens.
That sometimes falls into the form of third-party rejects, which is when your insurance has an exemption to your prescription. They either want a prior authorization, filled out by the doctor and sent in explaining exactly why the prescription or otherwise is medically necessary, or they want to pay for a cheaper drug in the same class. The Medicare for All system would eliminate prior authorization, because with one streamlined system, you don’t have to go to the doctor each time and say, “Hey, I need you to explain to the insurance company exactly why I need this medication.” In the healthcare community, this has been an annoying thing for quite some time.
When the doctors write a prescription and say, “Hey, my patient needs this”, and when the insurance company comes back and says, “Well, does your patient need this?” Yes, of course they do, that’s why they wrote the prescription. That can slow the process down by days. Sometimes even weeks.
It’s gotten better over the last few years because of legislation that installed for some healthcare providers and insurance companies to have an electronic system that they can communicate with, as to purely going through mail or fax. You would be surprised with how many insurance companies don’t have a system in place to electronically pass back and forth information in regards to prior authorizations. The system is basically built to not take care of people.
America is the greatest nation in the world. When you think about that, with the changes that need to happen in the world, as an American, you think we should be at the forefront of that. We should be leading the way. We should be the ones “riding off into the sunset” saving the world. Traditionally, that is what we have done. You go back to WWII. Had we not intervened with that, there would probably be a very different kind of a world today. We are ignoring our role as stewards and heroes in terms of the money portion of it (profiting off environmental destruction).
I have read estimates that in ten years, we will reach the point of irreversible damage [to the environment], and that’s the more hardcore estimate. Some people say we have as much as twenty to fifty years. The truth is, regardless of how many years, we are on a time budget. If we don’t do something, there isn’t a future. That alone says that something has to be done.
People aren’t wanting to do something though because they are concerned with how it will affect their business or profits. That’s the problem with system’s in place today. We go for quarterly gains, over yearly gains, over growth in five years. Everybody is focused down to the fiscal quarter, the fiscal year, and they don’t think about ongoing growth and sustainability. It’s not a matter of “Should we do it?” it’s a matter of “How should we do it?”(referring to protecting the environment).
Further debate on the topic of whether or not to address [environmental destruction] is criminal at this point. Doing nothing means that our children don’t have a future. My son might be the last generation of people that can make an impact; more like my generation being the last generation to make an impact. So when it comes to climate change and global warming, absolutely, something needs to be done. In fixing it, there really is no situation where the cost is too high.
Is there a particular piece of legislation or plan currently in development, that you do or don’t support that addresses environmental concerns? Or even a specific way of how the U.S. is negatively impacting the environment that concerns you the most?
What we have right now is a system where the dollar is supported by fossil fuels. That is why there is such a push-back when it comes to switching over to clean energy, being green, and using renewable resources. Fossil fuels are what maintain and give the United States Dollar its value. We have to find a better system to invest in, because this may be the point where we can’t rely on that. If we are late to the party, then there will be another nation that rises to that occasion.
Campaign Finance & Election Reform:
I’m for as much legislation that makes sure that elections can’t be bought and sold, and reforming what current legislation allows. An individual can only contribute $2,800 per election. But if you are a Political Action Committee (PAC), you can contribute up to $5,000. If you are a Super PAC, the number is even more schemed. When you get into the PACs and the Super PACs, they do things for candidates that mitigate costs. It is set-up to look like, “Hey, the money has to be received through ethical means,” but in truth, it is more a system of layering to hide the fact that it’s still corporations that are determining the course of elections; as opposed to the people.
Let’s say you have a retiree. He has a 401(k), and he wants to take a chunk of it and invest it in politics because he wants to invest in the future. He can’t do that, because that’s “too much” for one person. But a corporation can invest nearly infinite amounts, as long as they set-up a Super PAC to funnel the money that way. The average citizen isn’t going to have that possibility. It’s just impossible. So yes, there are systems in place to that the money is ethically obtained and ethically used, but it’s still out of the reach of average citizens, and that’s the issue.
What other issues and/or topics do you want to bring to the forefront that are not directly addressed in your campaign platform?
Ending Citizens United and fighting a national right to work is definitely at the forefront. The naming and title of right to work laws are in direct contrast with what they actually do. It’s more the employer has a right to fire you for any means necessary, or for no reason at all. They use this to stop unions from organizing and to create a place that is more at the advantage for the employer. Obviously, the employer is going to have more money, they don’t need that sort of protection.
With Citizens United, it goes one step further, because it takes all liability from the people that are actually running the company. If you have an L.L.C., a limited liability company, that only impacts the people who own company slightly if something unethical occurs. In the case of corporations, we have given them human rights. So when they act unethically, the company suffers, but can separate the company and the individuals so they can make decisions that will have them not get in trouble. So there’s no accountability of the CEOs and upper leadership within corporations.
In your personal ideology, as well as a candidate running for office, do you consider yourself either a moderate Democrat, a progressive Democrat, a centrist, or other? Why?
I consider myself socially progressive and fiscally conservative. I am mainly a Democrat because I believe in the idea that America belongs to the people that are creating it, not to the people who have the most money. Republicans like to pull the card, “Well we’re conservative, we like saving money and make good investments.” This is just a title.
When I say I am fiscally conservative, it means that I believe in growth, but I believe in sustainable growth. Something that we can continually do and fuel, so we can continually grow and succeed as a society. Not just in a quarter or fiscal year, but in the next decade, and the next century.
Some people may argue with you that the Medicare for All system is not a system of growth, and contradicts the statement that you are fiscally conservative. How would you respond to these people?
The people that are currently on Medicare have paid into Medicare for their entire working lives. They only had to pay in for forty quarters, which is ten years worth of working in order to receive the full benefits. Same with Social Security. But a lot of those people didn’t just work ten years, they worked for fifty and sixty years. So they put in more money than what’s required for them to do.
People have stolen from that, for other causes, or they have used that money for tax breaks. The money has always been there, it’s just being stolen and taken to other places. That’s not being conservative at all.
When you look at our military spending, and you see we spend more on a military budget than the next twelve nations combined, you can’t call that conservative. We are spending more [on our military] than the next twelve nations combined, but our veterans don’t have healthcare. There is obviously some severe flaws here.
As of now, you are the only declared candidate for the Democratic primary race for this Kentucky U.S. Senate seat. Senator Chuck Schumer recently met with Amy McGrath, the 2018 nominee for Kentucky’s 6th congressional district, to convince her to run for the Senate seat, and tried persuading her with the Democratic Party’s support in the primary. What do you think of this?
Honestly, I thought that was funny. I’ve been trying to reach Amy McGrath for the past two years when she was running her live campaign and offer my support, also trying to get her ideas on matters, and I have not been able to reach her. I have left her messages. She has time to go see Chuck Schumer, get his thoughts and ideas on the matter, but she doesn’t have time for Kentuckians? That doesn’t make any sense. Furthermore, this is Kentucky, we don’t need Chuck Schumer’s guidance.
Other candidates, like Matt Jones, the Kentucky media personality, are also getting attention nationally like McGrath, and are also still considering a run. What makes you the best candidate to, firstly, in this primary, secondly, to face off against Mitch McConnell, and finally, for the Senate position in general?
What makes me the best candidate is that I have lived my entire life in Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky. I haven’t done so living in privilege, like Matt Jones or Amy McGrath. I’ve done so as a working class citizen. I have seen the struggles we have because I have lived the struggles that we have.
I know what it’s like to choose groceries and bills over Christmas presents for children. I know what it’s like to live without food because you need those presents or go without food because you need to pay for health insurance for your children. A lot of us are working forty hours a week, some of us forty-four to fifty hours a week, and we are still struggling. That makes zero sense.
Amy McGrath, she does have some good ideas, don’t get me wrong, but she’s unreachable, and after her election was over, she had basically started going to where the political snobs go. She is already becoming part of the problem culture. She is already becoming a part of the elite. She doesn’t understand the perspective of the people.
Matt Jones also has really great ideas and speaks very well, but he doesn’t understand the struggle either. Anybody who says to themselves, “Well I’m having a decent time as a lawyer, and I’ve made enough money, so I’ll pursue a hobby and open my own radio show. Hey, my radio show is doing enough, I’ll just do this.” They don’t understand the struggle of somebody that works nine to five. They just don’t.
Is there anything else you would like to mention on what we have discussed, not discussed, or otherwise?
Yes. I have been doing research into ways to fight all of these issues that I have mentioned, and I am currently in the midst of getting distribution rights on a generator that runs on magnets—and new battery technology—that creates energy for a home-based supply. This acting as a buffer between the electrical grid and the user.
The power that it uses to start-up is minute. If additional power is needed, the user can pull it from the grid. But in testing cases, it’s actually producing enough to put energy into the grid. It’s not perpetual motion, it’s not zero-point energy, it does take maintenance and repair, but I believe that it’s the future.
What I’m trying to do is bring the ability to distribute that technology and that training into Kentucky. I want those installation and repair jobs to be available exclusively to the coal miner who wants to transition from fossil fuels, to clean energy jobs, that pay just as well. I want to establish that, not as my own business, but at the co-op of the communities that these businesses are built in, so that they can continue to serve, and that the people of the community own it, instead of me or anyone else.
Instead of it being a for-profit business, the excess that it makes from the selling of these units would be put into giving these units to seniors on fixed-income. This is an effort to free up more of their income for the medicines that they need. It’s a very large idea, and I will admit, it is in the pipedream phase, but I believe it is the future. If I can honestly enact legislation to support it, it could save the world.