Trivedi ready for third shot at 6th race

Democrat sought seat in 2010, 2012, but likes chances with seat open

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

Manan TrivediAfter a pair of bruising runs against Jim Gerlach for the Sixth Ditrict Congressional seat, it looked like Manan Trivedi had had enough.

The 39-year-old physician and Navy veteran made a pair of spirited runs against Gerlach, a well-funded incumbent in 2010 and 2012 and both fell short. As things stood, it appeared that he would take a pass at a third try to beat Gerlach.

Then Gerlach surprised many by announcing in January that he wouldn’t run again — turning a tough race for a Democrat into a much-more winnable race. It took some soul searching and a lot of conversation with his wife Surekha before he decided to take another shot at what could be one of the nation’s most-watched Congressional races.

“Now that it’s an open seat, we feel like we have a better shot,” Trivedi said. And he acknowledges that because of his previous two runs, he is better known than Mike Parrish — the other Democrat seeking the nomination, as well as Chester County Republican — and Board of County Commissioners chair — Ryan Costello.

“That was a big a factor in the decision,” he said. “I probably have the best name ID in the district, even over Ryan Costello, who is well-known in Chester County, but not in the other counties.”

The sprawling sixth includes parts of Chester, Berks and Lebanon counties, making it a diverse and complicated district for a candidate to run in.

But one thing, Trivedi said, does seem to link everyone in the district.

“I share their frustration with the same-old, same-old,” he said, that people are looking for a Congress that can get business done and move away from the ideological logjam that has rendered the U.S. House of Representatives incapable of doing the people’s business.

“I think most voters rise above partisan issues,” he said.

Although a physician by training, health care — although obviously important — isn’t his top policy issue.

“The big agenda item is the economy,” he said.

Put bluntly, he said, jobs have to be the top priority, even as the worst of the economic downturn seems to have eased.

“A lot of the recovery has been on Wall Street, not Main Street,” he said.

Right out of the gate, he’s talking about a jobs plan, which he said would include targeted tax breaks for small businesses, job training and retraining for those shut out of the workforce right now. Also, he said he favors infrastructure investments — as they have a double impact on the economy: putting people to work to do the work, and by improving how goods and services flow, cuts costs for business owners and offers opportunities for expansion, both of their business and the greater economy.

That having been said, when pressed, he does have strong opinions about health care — and the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare. While both parties have spent years wrangling over the law — he said they missed the point and real problem with health care in the U.S.

“I’ve been saying that both Democrats and Republicans failed to address health care costs,” he said. “Health care (cost) is skyrocketing.”

He said that too many tests are ordered, often without a positive impact on outcomes (and sometimes a negative one), in part because of concerns over legal liability — sometimes referred to as ‘defensive medicine,’ but also because of a mindset with some doctors and hospitals to just automatically send patients for tests without fully determining whether they’re needed.

He cited one provision in the ACA that seems to be proving that point: Medicare patients readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge mean lowered payments for providers. Already, Trivedi said, those sort of readmissions becoming less common. He said he thinks more people – medical professionals — should be part the discussion on how to improve the ACA and make it work better.

Another area Trivedi said he expects to focus on is education.

“If you want to know what the economy is going to look like in 25 years, take a close look at your education system right now,” he said.

He said he’s concerned that students are running up excessive debt in college loans — often paying fairly high rates to borrow money.

“Big banks on Wall Street get loans for very little,” he said. “College loans should be much more on par with these loans.”

He is also going to call for more investment in community colleges — because just having a high school diploma often isn’t enough any more for many workers.

“It’s amazing what a couple years (of additional education) does for people,” he said.

In terms of K-12 education, he said he worries about a current environment where teachers are forced to teach to standardized tests. He said, as a product of public schooling that it was often the teachers who taught in sometimes unconventional ways that ended up having the most lasting effect on him.

He does agree that teachers have to be accountable, though.

“We have to reward the good teachers and weed out the bad ones,” he said.

Trivedi said he’s not bothered by the idea of a primary against Parrish — noting that in his first race in 2010 he faced Doug Pike and Brian Gordon for the Democratic nomination.

“Especially with an open seat, I think it’s good to have a spirited debate,” he said.

Although his race with Parrish — also an Army veteran — should be interesting, Trivedi expressed pleasure that so many had moved to endorse him right at the start.

Among those publicly backing Trivedi include: State Sen. Andy Dinniman, County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone, Phoenixville Mayor Michael Speck and Dave McLimans, Chester County Labor Council President.

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