Nevada doctor running for Congress says Ebola cases highlight need for health experts in D.C

Dr. Annette Teijeiro

Dr. Annette Teijeiro  (Facebook)

Is there a doctor in the house?

The House of Representatives, that is.

If you ask Annette Teijeiro, there are not enough – especially at a time when health insurance and Ebola are in the headlines, but little understood by the public and lawmakers alike.

That is one reason why Teijeiro, an anesthesiologist, is running to unseat U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, a Democrat who is running for re-election in the 1st Congressional District.

“There are only 18 physicians in Congress,” said Teijeiro, “but there are 173 lawyers.”

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That is worrisome, Teijeiro says, at a time when the United States is faced with its first cases of Ebola, with possibly more to emerge in the near future, perhaps because of missteps.

“We have a major disease that has entered our borders,” Teijeiro says. “Yet Congress will not suspend its [election] activities to take care of the people of this nation. They should be bringing attention to all that needs to be done to prevent an outbreak.”

Teijeiro says that members of Congress should learning about the disease, methods of dealing with it, and allocating funding to it.

“People don’t need to be dying,” she says, adding that on the campaign trail and in media interviews she has been speaking about Ebola and precautions that Americans should take.

There was a misperception, she says, that Ebola was a third world problem, something that proliferates there because of a lack of resources and knowledge about fighting diseases.

“We’re not Africa, but the virus doesn’t care whether it’s in the United States, or Liberia or the Sudan,” Teijeiro says. “It’s a virus, it has one single purpose – to reproduce itself, and killing the host in the process doesn’t matter.”

Earlier this year, Teijeiro defeated lawyer Jose Padilla in a competitive GOP primary.

But Teijeiro faces a tough challenge in the general election.

Democrats have a 2-to-1 registration advantage, and the only Republican to ever hold the seat was former U.S. Rep. and Sen. John Ensign.

Teijeiro says she’s also running because she feels Nevada’s congressional delegation needs ethnic diversity. She has accused Titus of and Democrats in general of not being sincere when they say they care about Latinos and immigration reform.

The Democrats, and President Barack Obama, prioritized passing the Affordable Care Act over reforming immigration, Teijeiro says. Immigration reform, Teijeiro argues, is more urgently needed, and will affect many more people, than the Affordable Care Act.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal said that if she succeeds, Teijeiro would be Nevada’s first Hispanic congressional representative.

Teijeiro says that she supports a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants who work, have not committed crimes, and who want to continue to contribute.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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