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 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.
Fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances continue to flow into the country via the southern border. In 2022, an estimated 110,511 people in the U.S. died of drug overdoses and poisonings, about 70% of those deaths involved synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. I introduced the HALT Fentanyl Act to permanently schedule fentanyl-related substances. It has since passed the House of Representatives 289 – 133.
Original cosponsor of the Pandemic is Over Act, which terminates the COVID-19 public health emergency that was declared on January 31, 2020, on the date of the bill's enactment. It has since passed the House of Representatives.
To ensure the United States is never solely dependent upon foreign suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE) during an emergency like the coronavirus pandemic, I introduced the Domestic SUPPLY Act. This bill would require the Federal Government to enter into partnerships with domestic manufacturers of PPE in order to ensure a supply of PPE during national emergencies.
One of the biggest pieces of legislation I helped draft and get signed into law in 2013 was the Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA). The purpose of this comprehensive bill was to address safety concerns about compounded drugs. The role compounding pharmacies played during the COVID-19 pandemic were critical and lifesaving to many patients. That is why I introduced the Patient Access to Urgent Use Pharmacy Compounding Act. The bill is intended to create a safe and efficient pathway for certain compound pharmacies to provide urgent-use and shortage drugs to hospitals and physicians under strict regulatory guidelines. The bill also expands the list of eligible drugs to be included to not just the FDA shortage list but also the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Shortage list, which is more local/regional.
Cosponsored Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for ALS Act establishes grant programs to address neurodegenerative diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease). Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for ALS Act was signed into law on December 23, 2021.
Original cosponsor of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act ,which establishes grants and requires other activities to improve mental and behavioral health among health care providers. The Department of Health and Humans Services must conduct a campaign to (1) encourage health care providers to seek support and treatment for mental and behavioral health concerns, and (2) disseminate best practices to prevent suicide and improve mental health and resiliency among health care providers. The bill was signed into law on March 18, 2022.
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 (SUPPORT) Act , which was signed into law in October 2018. This package of bills that must be reauthorized every five years 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. The most recent SUPPORT Act that passed the House on December 12th, 2023, included the RECONNECTIONS Act, which I was the leader again for this reauthorization. The provision would reauthorize funding and state efforts to strengthen PDMPs.
I was the Republican lead on the Improving Access to Mental Health Services Act, which was signed into law as part of the SUPPORT Act 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 and why DIR fees will be collected, while many also noted that DIR fees can total thousands of dollars each month. In response to this, I introduced the Transparency and Fairness for Pharmacies Act , which takes steps to help rein in and bring more transparency to these DIR fees and all pharmacy fees by Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). It would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to create standardized quality metrics for health plans and PBMs to use when determining payments to pharmacies. Over time, PBMs have been allowed to operate virtually unchecked, leading to abuse of pharmacy performance evaluations and lack of transparency in pharmacy payments. My bill seeks to end these practices.
Pharmaceutical Benefit Managers (PBMs) have long been manipulating drug prices through various ways to enhance their own profits. PBMs will pit manufacturers against one another to see who will offer them the largest rebates for competing medicines. Some patients can end up paying more for a drug than the final net price negotiated by the insurer or PBM. To combat this systemic problem, I introduced the Fairness for Patient Medications Act. The bill will ensure that insurance companies do not charge patients more for highly-rebated drugs than the insurance company or PBM negotiated with the manufacturer after all rebates and discounts are accounted for. The bill also preserves the private sector negotiation between manufacturers and PBMs while ensuring sick patients do not overpay for their medicine.
In 2016, 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.
I have long been a champion for increased medical marijuana research. I was an original cosponsor of the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act that was signed into law on December 2, 2022. The bill eliminates barriers and creates a more streamlined process for researchers to expand access to marijuana research. This research is critical for us to understand the harms and possible benefits of marijuana. This information is essential for how we set policy.
After the 2018 Farm Bill legalized cannabidiol (CBD), the FDA had the task of establishing regulations for CBD to be sold as a dietary supplement and food ingredient. Since passage of the Farm Bill, CBD sellers have proliferated, but the FDA has not regulated these products. This has created a patchwork of state laws. Recognizing the problems created by FDA inaction, I introduced the Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act. This bill would make hemp, CBD derived from hemp, and other hemp-derived products lawful for use as a dietary supplement unless otherwise directed by the FDA. I also introduced the CBD Product Safety and Standardization Act. This bill would direct the FDA to regulate food containing CBD as a food additive, setting requirements for quality and labeling, among other areas.
Co-sponsored and voted to support the 21st Century Cures Act, which aimed 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.
Throughout the years I have 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.
Member of Congressional Caucus on Diabetes and Pro-Life Caucus.