FIGHTING FOR NORTH CAROLINA
I am who I am because of the opportunities I had growing up. I want the same for every North Carolinian.
Born into a suburban family in New Jersey to a mom who was a teacher and a PhD chemist father, Rick was the youngest of four children. After his parents divorced, his mother raised him and his brother effectively as a sole parent while much older sisters were away at college. Later on she became a paralegal working to age 81, helping folks get social security disability.
Although his highschool wasn't formally segregated, there were racial riots in 1969 at his school and community. As a student, he worked with his classmates to build and maintain unity during what were often tumultuous--but necessary--times.
After getting his bachelors in microbiology from Rutgers University Rick wanted a dramatic change in his life and he enlisted in the US Army. During 3 years of enlisted service he studied hemorrhagic viruses at Fort Detrick and, at night, worked towards a master's in biomedical sciences at Hood College. On an Army scholarship for medical school, Rick studied internal medicine and oncology at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and finished his service as a staff oncologist in Augusta Georgia. Treating active duty troops and their families, he developed a profound respect for their patriotism and sacrifice leading him to a lifelong advocacy for veterans' rights.
Rick served in the Army as a physician for 10 years reaching the rank of Lt. Col. before moving to Charlotte in 1993 and joining a practice led by an Army colleague. This was an exciting time to move to Charlotte: it was a growing vibrant community with a new professional basketball team, two huge banks, and an optimistic view of the future. What he now realizes is that vision also hid a sizable component of entrenched poverty. Still today, Charlotte remains a city where if you're born poor, you're likely to stay poor.
The stories of the patients' struggles are what Rick remembers. Where everyone had to deal with a devastating cancer diagnosis, some had to decide whether to pay a chemotherapy bill or their electric bill. All patients were seen regardless of their ability to pay and often local hospitals provided charity treatment for the uninsured. On occasion Rick saw patients who refused therapy and died prematurely because they were unwilling to pass medical debts onto their families; more commonly uninsured patients suffered a delay in diagnosis leading to more advanced cancers and a correspondingly worse prognosis.
In 2002 Rick both moved to Waxhaw and set up his own practice in Matthews. He had never been a small business owner before, so he had a steep learning curve, to say the least. Over the next 12 years they grew from Rick and his wife alone to four physicians and 24 dedicated employees. Rick had their back and they had his in a close family setting. It was the most satisfying period during his 20 years of civilian practice.
When he retired from practice in 2013, Rick volunteered to help people get insurance under the Affordable Care Act. He felt a personal calling to help others get healthcare, most for the very first time, and he found he needed it as well due to a pre-existing condition. At the time, 40% of the folks he worked with qualified neither for the ACA nor for Medicaid - they did not make enough to qualify for ACA insurance and couldn't obtain Medicaid because the Republican legislature refused to expand Medicaid under the ACA. Rick also volunteers in his daughters kindergarten class in a high poverty school and saw firsthand how too little support early on reduces a poor kid's chance of success even in the first year of school.
Today, Rick lives in Waxhaw with his wife, Linda. Between the two of them, they have 6 grown children and 7 grandchildren. Rick is running for office to help all North Carolinian's find their true potential and to repair a divided political system that has hurt our schools, our universities, our hospitals, our criminal justice system, our environment - the list could go on.
His name is Rick Foulke, and he's running to represent folks like you.