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 the youngest of four children to a suburban family in New Jersey, Rick's mother worked as a teacher and his father as a PhD chemist. After the divorce of his parents Rick's mother raised him and his brother effectively as a single parent while his older sisters were away at college. Later on, his mother would become a paralegal working to the age of 81, all the while helping folks get their social security disability.
Although his high school 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 so 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 of 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. Every patient 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 on to their families; more commonly uninsured patients suffered a delay in diagnosis leading to more advanced cancers and a correspondingly worse prognosis.
In 2002, Rick 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. He found that he needed it, as well, due to a pre-existing condition. At the time, 40% of the folks he worked with did not qualify for the ACA or 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 daughter’s kindergarten class in a high poverty school. He 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 adult children and 7 grandchildren. Rick is running for office to help all North Carolinians 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!