Lovvorn challenging incumbent in her first run for office

  • TRACY LOVVORN Staff PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/26/2018 12:17:32 AM

Although she’s never run for public office before, Republican Congressional candidate Tracy Lovvorn points back to an experience she had about nine years ago challenging the system — and what followed — as planting the seed for her current run against 21-year Democratic incumbent James McGovern.

Lovvorn, a 46-year-old Grafton physical therapist who owns her own practice, was still living then in Maryland — from where she moved nearly five years ago — and working as Mid-Atlantic regional regulatory compliance director for a Canadian-based health care company that contracted to perform Medicare services. When she realized that the company was committing what amounted to Medicare fraud, she brought it to her bosses’ attention in the hopes they would fix the problem. Instead, she says, “They launched a retaliation campaign and fired me.”

Rather than simply walk away, Lovvorn blew the whistle with the federal government, first seeking out multiple attorneys who could understand regulations for rehabilitation service, and working with the department of Health and Human Services, the Office of the Inspector General and the attorney general’s office over five years before the company finally settled with the case with the government in 2014. She claims on her website that her efforts led to “tens of millions of dollars being returned to the Medicare Trust Fund and significant changes improving patient protections for senior citizens.”

The Medicare case, Lovvorn said, led to creation of a formula used in settling other abuses in the billing system for rehabilitation and skilled nursing services cases.

“But it also gave me a bug as far as making a difference and getting involved with the government to do good things,” she said. “Blackballed from the industry,” she returned to simply doing physical therapy, working for a home-health agency that took her into clients’ homes around Worcester County in 2016 — just in time for the 2016 presidential election campaign.

“I got an earful,” says Lovvorn, who would spend an hour at a time in patients’ homes, often with their families present, and often as television reports were airing in the background.

“I was hearing what they were saying,” she said. “Everybody was talking and focusing on politics. What I was hearing, they (felt they) weren’t getting the support they were looking for, there were voices that weren’t being heard, they were seeing things on TV that they weren’t agreeing with.”

Lovvorn says, “I heard them loud and clear. I want to become the voice for people I know aren’t being listened to in district.”

The California native, whose only government role has been as an appointed member of her town planning board, won September’s Republican primary with more than 60 percent of the vote and faces McGovern in the 2nd Congregational District Nov. 6. The district includes Northampton, Amherst, Hadley, Ware, Belchertown and other Hampshire County communities, along with parts of Franklin, Hampden, Norfolk, and Worcester counties.

Running against a Democrat who’s ranked by the website GovTrack as the most liberal member of the nine-member Massachusetts delegation, Lovvorn says on her site, “Like you, I am exhausted from dead end political extremism in Washington DC that leads to constant resistance and accomplishes little ... It’s time that we focus on the things that matter to us, and stop with the dysfunction in Washington. I promise to work for you, and not add fuel to the firestorm. I promise to work toward solutions, and address each issue with an optimistic eye of what’s possible.”

Her priorities include immigration reform built on securing all borders, better tracking of visa overstays and more effective employment verification as well as “ending chain migration, ending the visa lottery program, and reforming our current immigration laws in support of merit-based qualifications.”

Lovvorn criticizes McGovern — who is outspoken in calls for solutions to the nation’s immigration problems and criticizing proposed cuts to health care, welfare and other government programs — for doing little to address those issues.

“He’s quick to point out a problem, and I’ll agree with him on the problems,” she says. “What I’m disagreeing with him on are, what’s he done about it? What’s he at least trying to do about it, instead of just talking about it?”

McGovern, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, has railed about Republican proposals to cut the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program as well as other programs aimed at helping the low-income population.

“I don’t think there’s anybody in the world who wouldn’t commend that,” admits Lovvorn, who says her family benefited from Food Stamps briefly in the late 1970s or early ‘80s. But the Republican candidate, who defends increasing work and drug testing requirements for SNAP, says, “The language McGovern uses is ‘taking food out of the mouths of babies,’ and I don’t think that’s fair.”

Lovvorn has pledged to limit her service, if elected, to six years and has called for rebuilding the nation’s roads, bridges and other infrastructure through a combination of public and private investment.

Online: tracyforcongress.com




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