Obamacare has helped some people get insurance, I consistently hear from constituents that due to increases in co-pays, deductibles, and the base cost of their insurance, they believe they were better off financially – and had better insurance – before the onset of Obamacare.
I support fairness for all Americans when it comes to their personal health care. I oppose the Federal Government meddling with the doctor-patient relationship by mandating what medical services will and will not be covered for senior citizens through Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The IPAB was repealed in February 2018 with the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act.
I believe in health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and in protecting and promoting access to health care for rural Americans.
I believe in empowering patients to receive quality, affordable health care that meets that patient’s individual health care needs and removing federal barriers that exist to this care, especially for those with terminal illnesses who are willing to take risks with new and experimental treatments.
Introduced the FAST Act, which will expand access to certain stroke telehealth services. The FAST Act was signed into law on February 9, 2018. Prior to it being signed into law, Medicare only allowed for coverage of telestroke in the most rural, underserved areas. The FAST Act allows reimbursement for telestroke consultations under Medicare regardless of where the patient happens to be located. Through telestroke, a patient having a stroke can gain access to specialists through the use of interactive video-conferencing, even if the hospital at which the patient is receiving treatment does not have a stroke neurologist available around the clock. It can expand the diagnoses of ischemic strokes, thus allowing patients to more quickly be treated with Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA), a “magic, clot-busting drug” that helps dissolve blood clots and reverse disability if administered promptly. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a stroke and receiving treatment promptly are crucial when attempting to minimize the harmful impact of a stroke. tPA and telestroke ought to be more readily available to help improve patients’ chances of recovering from a stroke.
Supported the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6), which was signed into law in October 2018. This package of bills addresses the nation’s ongoing efforts to combat our nation’s opioid and drug abuse crisis. This issue is especially critical in Southwest Virginia, which has been disproportionately affected. This legislation included two bills which I authored: the CONNECTIONS Act, which improves federal support for state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) and provides for enhanced collection of substance abuse data, and the Medicaid PARTNERSHIP Act, which incorporates PDMP data into the clinical workflow of Medicaid providers.
As Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee in 2017-18, I helped lead the investigation into how the practices and failures of specific opioid distributors and manufacturers may have fueled the opioid epidemic. We also investigated the failures of agencies like the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in properly dealing with potential opioid problems.
Was the Republican lead on the Improving Access to Mental Health Services Act, which was signed into law as part of H.R. 6 in October 2018. This legislation will allow National Health Service Corps members, who are behavioral and mental health professionals, to practice in schools, at community-based organizations, and allow for home-visiting, in order to best meet the needs of their patients and communities. These changes will especially help improve access to mental health care for children living in rural areas.
Community pharmacists have been increasingly charged retroactive fees (DIR fees) after prescriptions are filled, which hurts, and sometimes destroys, their business. A majority of these pharmacists said they receive no information about when DIR fees will be collected or their size, while many also noted that DIR fees can total thousands of dollars each month. In response to this, I introduced the Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Spending Act, which would ensure our community pharmacists receive reimbursement at the rate posted at the time the prescription is filled. This bill would guarantee that pharmacists know exactly what they will be reimbursed when you get your prescriptions filled.
I hosted an Opioid Roundtable with Congressman Roe (R-TN), which engaged law enforcement, health care providers, and political leaders in a discussion about the opioid epidemic and how to best collaborate to fight this growing crisis. One of the concepts discussed at the roundtable - permitting certain additional people (pharmacists, doctors, etc.) to take back expired, unused, or unwanted prescription opioid drugs - was included in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which was signed into law in July 2016. This measure will help decrease opportunities for individuals to acquire drugs that are not theirs.
Introduced legislation to ensure that our coal miners can keep their expanded Black Lung benefits should Obamacare be repealed. I believe it is wrong to take away the Black Lung benefit improvements included as part of the health care law.
Introduced the Compassionate Freedom of Choice Act, which would allow terminally ill patients to use drugs, treatments, and devices that have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration if their physicians certify that such patients have no other treatment options and the patient gives written, informed consent that they are aware of any potentials risks of the treatment. For patients whose doctors have exhausted current medical options and the patient has been told that the end of life is nearing, I do not think the government should care what treatment the patient may choose, and these patients should have the freedom to decide if the risk of an experimental drug is worth it for themselves. While not going as far as I would have liked, the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act was passed and signed into law with my support. S. 204 aims to address the challenges terminally ill patients face when seeking unapproved treatments, similar to my bill.
Introduced the bipartisan Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act with Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) to allow any willing pharmacy located within medically underserved or health professional shortage areas, like our rural communities in Southwest Virginia, to participate in Medicare Part D preferred networks. While Medicare Part D preferred pharmacy network plans were designed to make prescription drugs more affordable for beneficiaries, these plans have created confusion for seniors and put community pharmacies at a competitive disadvantage. Some seniors, especially in rural areas, have reported having to travel upwards of 20 miles in order to get their medications from a preferred pharmacy network because their local community pharmacy was not given the opportunity to participate in such a network. For me, this is an issue of fairness for all those who make their home in rural America.
Introduced the Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act (LUMMA). This bill would reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II drug and would also prohibit the Federal Government from preventing the prescription, possession, transportation, and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes in compliance with applicable state law such as the Virginia medicinal marijuana law that has been on the books since 1979. LUMMA does not involve the recreational use of marijuana – which I oppose – but instead would put marijuana in the same category as drugs like codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, and others which are currently accepted for medical use, which would allow for further research into the risks and benefits of marijuana as a treatment for cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, and other illnesses.
Co-sponsored and voted to support the 21st Century Cures Act, which will help to modernize our health care system, improve FDA processes, and accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery cycle of new cures and treatments for diseases. This legislation was signed into law in 2016.
Co-sponsored and voted to support the Protecting Seniors' Access to Medicare Act, which would permanently repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The IPAB is a 15-member board of non-elected officials charged with recommending Medicare spending reductions. This would result in bureaucrats, not doctors, making health decisions for seniors.
Supported the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act, which amended Obamacare to allow states to continue to treat business with 51-100 employees as small businesses. This policy change protects small to mid-sized employers from significant premium increases that would’ve been imposed under Obamacare’s expansion of the small group market to include groups with up to 100 employees.
Original co-sponsor of the Protect Medical Innovation Act, which repeals the medical device tax. The medical device tax, included in Obamacare, would raise the cost of medical devices, which includes prosthetics, knee replacements, and x-rays, for consumers as well as job creators.