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July 1, 2020

A Fireside Chat with Representative Angie Craig

The Fascinating Career of Rep. Angie Craig

Representative Angie Craig didn’t grow up absorbed in politics. Her childhood dream wasn’t to run a campaign or someday be the president. She simply wanted to be able to visit the doctor’s office.

“I grew up in a single mother household,” Representative Craig said. “We didn’t have access to health insurance.”

Her experience built passion and drive. She wanted to answer the question: “How do we build a health care system where everyone has access to a basic level of health care, and where we still have and encourage good new technologies.”

So, first, she turned to the medical technology industry.

“I got to manage the St. Jude Medical foundation to help low income women get access to health care.”

She climbed her way up the corporate ladder until she was the head of Global Human Relations – then, she helped other high-potential women climbing behind her. She started a successful executive mentoring program and instituted a checkpoint system to ensure more women were being included in applicant pools for high-level jobs.

“When I started [the initiatives], 18 percent of our management were women,” said Representative Craig. “Over four years, 40 percent of our management were women.”

At the same time, Representative Craig was deeply immersed in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, implementing its measures for her own staff and tracking the results.

“I saw the good things it brought about, and I saw some of the bad policy from it,” Representative Craig said. “Then it occurred to me I could make a bigger impact on the policy as a legislator. It’s about taking the challenges you have and turning them into opportunities to advocate for what you believe in.”

Representative Angie CraigSo, Representative Craig launched a bid to represent Minnesota’s Second Congressional District. She lost that first bid by fewer than 7,000 votes. She sought a rematch in 2018 and won.

She’s focused on reducing the cost of health insurance, including premiums and out-of-pocket costs, as well as lowering the actual costs of health care. And she’s adamant: she’ll work with anyone in Congress to get it done.

“Neither party benefits when members don’t work together,” she said. “I’ve advocated for Democrats and Republicans to work together again in this country. I’ve gotten myself in trouble before with the Democratic party and the Speaker of the House, but if it’s the right policy, I don’t really care which side of the aisle it’s on.”

The current coronavirus pandemic has only strengthened her commitment.

“It’s accelerated my commitment to figuring out how we get to universal health care,” she said. “I’m resolved even more to help us transition to a world in which everyone has access to a basic level of health care, but where the unintended consequences of that move don’t shut down innovation.”

In that pursuit, Representative Craig has honed in on addressing problems with fee-for-serve payment models; ensuring the survival of rural hospitals; stabilizing the medical supply chain; and promoting a more comprehensive strategy on diagnostic testing for COVID-19.

All this work hinges on collaboration.

“Industry has got to be able to collaborate with our government agencies,” she said. “Progress requires tremendous collaboration.”

Progress also requires some humanity.

“Getting to know one another on a human level is so important,” she said. “If we get to know each other on a human level, we’re going to be a better country.”

Watch Representative Craig discuss these perspectives and more with WEN Chair Tracy MacNeal as part of WEN’s Paths to the Top interview series, or read the full transcript.