New House health committee chair says she asked for the job because ‘health care is too important to leave to chance’
Rep. Kim Moser in her Capitol Annex office (Photo by Al Cross)
By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
The new chair of the state House Health and Family Services Committee has been a legislator for less than two years and two months, but says she’s uniquely qualified for the position because of her background in health care and her willingness to speak out about important issues.
Rep. Kim Moser, a Republican from Taylor Mill, told Kentucky Health News that she asked to be considered for the chair’s position after briefly toying with the idea of running for one of the five slots in the House Republican leadership, but realized that “surprisingly few” House members have a health background.
“I said, you know what, health care is too important to leave it to chance, so I really felt strongly about doing this,” she said in an interview in her corner office in the Capitol Annex. “I’m really very happy right here. I think this is where I need to be.”
Moser is a registered nurse with a specialty in neonatal intensive care. She also served as the director for the Northern Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy between 2014 and 2018, and remains on its board.
Moser describes herself as a “fiscal conservative” and “very pro-life” and says it’s no surprise that she ended up in politics since she grew up in a political home. Her father, Dr. Floyd Poore, is a longtime family practice physician who sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 1991 after serving as state transportation secretary and gubernatorial campaign fund-raiser.
Moser said her father remains a registered Democrat, and grinned when she said she is working on getting him to change that. “I tell him all the time that he’s really a Republican because I grew up in that house and that’s how conservative he really is,” she said.
Moser said her involvement in health advocacy and policy also influenced her decision to run for office and her desire to lead the health committee. She provided some legislative education for the Kentucky Medical Association as a volunteer, and had worked for the KMA Alliance and the American Medical Association Alliance, of which she is the immediate past president.
“That, coupled with the Office of Drug Control Policy, I was working on addiction and medical legislative issues on a local, state and national level,” she said. “And I just saw how valuable it was, first of all, to have influence in all of those spaces and understand how one affects the other.”
Moser replaced 30-year representative Tom Kerr in 2016. She said when Kerr asked her if she was ready to run for office after he decided to not seek re-election, the stars must have been aligned because her youngest of five sons was a senior in high school and the time was right. This is Moser’s second term from House District 64, which covers parts of Campbell and Kenton counties.
“I love it,” she said. “I love working with constituents. I love helping solve problems, and maybe that’s just the nurse and mom in me, but it feels like a good fit right now. I grew up in it, and when I got here, I kind of felt right at home.”
Moser, 56, said she doesn’t rule out running for a higher position, but isn’t actively pursuing it. “This wasn’t the plan and that’s not my plan, but you never know what opportunities come your way,” she said. “And again, if I feel like I can offer something, that is why I would do that.”
As a legislator, Moser said, it’s important to look at the big picture and to not get bogged down in the details, which she said can lead to political polarization.
For example, she said it’s important to make sure programs exist to support foster care and addiction treatment, but it’s even more important to implement policies that address the underlying causes: “I like to take a broader, 30,000-foot view of things.”
When people take a short view of a problem, she said, they “get stuck in their party’s talking points and don’t always look at what is best for the child, the family, the state and the return on investment, if you will, on implementing programs that really get to the underlying causes.”
Moser noted that there are often “recurrent themes” that act as the underlying causes for many of the issues that plague Kentucky, such as adverse childhood experiences. She said it’s important to look at these recurrent themes and address them through legislation.
According to America’s Health Rankings, Kentucky is in the top 10 states for adverse childhood experiences, with 27 percent of its children having experienced two or more stressful or traumatic events on a list of 10 — such as physical abuse or substance misuse in the home — that are proven to have a lasting impact on their health and well-being.
Moser said she subscribes to the Republican belief that cutting taxes would improve economic opportunities for low-income Kentuckians, and the notion that “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
“The economic stability of our state has a lot to do with our workforce and all the issues that we know cause problems for individuals. Certainly we know that if folks don’t have a job, then they can’t provide for their families and this increases stress,” she said. “So I absolutely subscribe to that.”
Moser said that as the chair of the House’s health committee, she plans to work on finding ways to address the underlying issues that contribute to so many of the chronic diseases in the state — like addiction, obesity and tobacco use.
She has already gotten a statewide tobacco-free school bill out of her committee, but it has run into some opposition in the full House. Moser is the prime sponsor of the measure, House Bill 11.
She also said she will work on figuring out ways to improve access to care for mental health, which she said is currently under-treated. “Mental health issues affect addiction, poverty, school safety,” she said. “The list is pretty endless.”