Christensen is a physician and retired professor from the University of Missouri in Columbia. While this is his first time running for political office, Christensen served as chief of staff of the University of Missouri Hospital and as MU faculty council chair.
Veterans, rural Missourians, education and healthcare access are at the heart of Christensen’s campaign platform.
Veterans issues are especially important to Christensen. During the early 1990s, Christensen practiced at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital, when he brought to light unethical behavior tied to patient deaths.
“I want to be absolutely sure that the department of Veterans Affairs is funded enough to do the things it is tasked to do," Christensen said, "And that those tasks include the benefits necessary for veterans and their families to pull their lives together after their service, and to keep them together after their service.”
With Christensen’s drive to support veterans’ benefits, especially health care, comes his mission to also expand healthcare access for Missourians. He says he wants to address problems with the Affordable Care Act, and combat the effects from the lack of Medicaid expansion in Missouri. During the summer, he visited Osceola, Missouri. The area has suffered from the lack of Medicaid expansion and saw the Sac-Osage Hospital—a major healthcare and employment provider for the city—close as a result. More than 100 people lost their jobs.
“Missourians have already paid the money to keep that hospital afloat. It’s not new money that kept it afloat. What has happened is that the money has been now shipped out to Washington, and it’s distributed to other states that have not sent it back," Christensen said. "It’s just shuffling of dollars back and forth.”
In contrast to Representative Hartzler, Christensen believes that women’s health issues like reproductive health should not be subject to government involvement.
As a former educator, Christensen says that reforms to higher education funding are essential. Strategies that he supports include putting corporate tax dollars coming back from overseas back into the education system. He says this approach would also benefit corporations interested in a workforce that is motivated, highly skilled, and armed with purchasing power.
“The youth of America is a natural resource to be developed," Christensen said. "If we don’t provide full opportunity for them to seek whatever they wish to do, we’re squandering a very precious natural resource and probably the only one that’s going to get us out of here.”
Along with education and healthcare access, reforms directed toward economic development, especially in rural areas, help define Christensen’s plans. Within Christensen’s economic development plan is the goal of increasing reliable, high-speed internet access to rural areas.
Christensen acknowledges that being a newcomer to Missouri politics has its challenges, like a lack of name recognition outside of Boone County. To overcome that obstacle, he’s reached out to voters in rural parts of the Fourth District and military members, as well as student the medical and academic communities.
But Christensen says he’s unique as a politician. He believes there has yet to be a person like him run for office: a doctor, scientist, and educator who exposed grievous activities tied to medical wrongdoing. His pitch to Missourians: “I’m the physician who saved veterans’ lives. If you want somebody that’s gonna save your life, choose me.”