Diane Black Interview with Opportunity Lives: From Humble Roots to Making a Difference in Health Care Reform

Washington, DC  Yesterday, House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black sat down with John Hart from Opportunity Lives to discuss her personal story and how reforming health care inspired her to serve in Congress.

Below is a summary of their conversation. You can see the full video here.

On her personal story:

“I’m blessed to have two great parents – depression era parents. My parents, neither one of them had more than a 9th grade education…we lived in public housing until I was about four and a half years old. And then my parents were able to, my father was able to amass enough money to be able to buy a modest home that my parents both live in ‘til today…I was blessed to have two good, hard working parents whose goal for us was just to graduate high school…I’m the first and only one of my family that’s graduated college. So, I started out with just a really good foundation of having two loving parents.” 

On how her parents met: 

“My parents met in a paper box factory. They were working there together and they met at that time. And then my father served in World War II and when he came back home from World War II they got married. And the rest is history.” 

On what inspired her to be a nurse: 

“It goes back a long way. My mother says that I asked for a doctor’s kit when I was four years old. So very early on there was just something in me that I’ve always been intrigued by the body and how it works so it’s always been a dream for me to be in medicine.” 

On how health care inspired her to serve in Congress: 

“Let’s wind the clock back a little bit to say how do you get from nursing into public policy. I think that really sets the scene for why I’m here today and what got me involved. Many years ago back in 1998, I was working as a nurse and I saw what the pilot project for the single-payer system which was in our state of Tennessee. It was brought by then Al Gore the Vice President. It was TennCare. And I saw what it was doing in our state and it was very disturbing to me. Because more than even the money piece, I could see that the quality of care was not there for my patients. And so I thought ‘well I could run and make a difference’ and that’s when I ran for the State House in Tennessee and won that seat. And ever since then, I’ve always had as a focus health care, it’s been a big focus for me – health care and children and families.”