PORTLAND — Steve Woods, an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, is offering a new way to take the pulse of the electorate.
In a 42-foot mobile health-screening vehicle that belongs to the company he owns, Woods recently set up shop at a farmers market in Deering Oaks park where Promerica Health workers on the mobile unit spent five hours providing free cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure screenings to 93 people in the park Saturday. The screenings are part of his Promerica Health Tour.
“The more that you can do preventative screenings and get that information to people and put them on a path to changing personal behavior, the more you can have an impact on the overall cost of health care,” said Woods, president and chief executive officer of Falmouth-based Promerica Health. “Maine has an older-than-average population. Getting good health care screenings to our population is even more important than in other states.”
The majority of those screened Saturday tested “within the healthy range,” Woods said, although one man was advised to see his doctor immediately after his blood pressure screening showed a high risk.
The Yarmouth candidate hopes to finalize plans for a similar excursion to Bangor within the next two weeks. Woods intends to offer free health screenings at other locations in the state, although no firm dates have been set.
As the owner of a business that specializes in preventative health care, Wood said he’s best qualified among this year’s U.S. Senate candidates from Maine to understand the relationship between business and health care reform.
When asked how he planned to document to the Federal Election Commission the effect of any medical screenings that occur during his campaign, Woods said a campaign staffer is researching the matter in advance of the next campaign finance report filing deadline.
“The screenings are done by Promerica Health, which I 100 percent own,” Woods said. “Since it does them all around the country and we don’t charge, the question is: What, if anything, would the campaign pay?”
“If allowed to, I will pay for it personally,” Woods said. “ If not, the campaign will be charged a minimal amount based on FEC laws and rules.”
Woods is considered a distinct long shot in a race that polls show Angus King, another independent whom Woods previously endorsed, leading handily. The six-person race also includes Democrat Cynthia Dill, Republican Charlie Summers and independents Danny Dalton and Andrew Ian Dodge.
Woods also reiterated his intention to pledge his full U.S. Senate salary over six years to Maine-based charities if he wins the election.
While Woods was at Deering Oaks, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced his selection of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as running mate. Although Woods said he supports President Barack Obama’s re-election and his health care reform law, he praised Romney’s pick because it adds clarity to the presidential campaign.
“I feel confident that most Mainers and most Americans will have a clear choice going forward,” he said.