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Posted by Randy | October 16, 2014
Dominating coverage this week is the news that two healthcare workers, who treated Ebola patient Thomas Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, have contracted the virus.

One of the individuals, Amber Vinson, recently flew from Cleveland to Dallas.  Before boarding the plane, Vinson contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alerting officials that she had a slightly elevated temperature; despite this, she was permitted to fly.

In response, the CDC said it is considering adding other healthcare workers from the Texas hospital to a no-fly list and also lowering the fever threshold indicating a possible sign of Ebola.

Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing examining the public health response to the Ebola outbreak, with Dr. Frieden, Director of the CDC, as one of the witnesses.

Question of the week:  Given these developments, what is your confidence level in the CDC to contain the spread of Ebola in the United States?

( ) Confident.
( ) Somewhat confident.
( ) Not confident.
( ) I don’t know.
( ) Other.

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | October 07, 2014
The outbreak of Ebola continues to grow in West Africa - now infecting and killing more people than all previous Ebola outbreaks combined since the virus’ discovery in 1976.  According to the World Health Organization, the Ebola virus has now resulted in over 7,000 cases and over 3,000 deaths in countries in West Africa, and on September 30th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first case of Ebola in the United States.

Due to the unprecedented scale of this outbreak, attention has turned toward preventing Ebola from spreading in the United States.

While experimental drugs have been used to treat the disease, CDC officials are investigating the case in the U.S. and while some individuals have been quarantined, mandatory travel restrictions have not been imposed.

Question of the weekDo you believe that travel restrictions to and from the United States are necessary to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in our country?

( ) Yes.
( ) No.
( ) I don’t know.
( ) Other.

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | September 24, 2014
Last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on abortion coverage in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The report was requested by House congressional leaders and demonstrates that, through subsidies, taxpayer dollars are going to pay for over 1000 health insurance plans that include abortion.

The ACA includes provisions requiring that if a plan covers abortion (in cases other than rape, incest or to save the life of the mother), a separate payment for abortion  - an abortion surcharge - must be collected.  However, according to the report, this requirement is not being strictly followed.

This is yet another example of the Administration’s repeated failure to provide basic transparency about abortion coverage. In response, I have supported the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, (H.R. 7), which makes permanent restrictions on the federal funding of abortions.  It also incorporates provisions of the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act (H.R. 3279), which I cosponsored, to provide full disclosure and transparency of abortion coverage to consumers who are shopping for health insurance plans on the exchanges. This bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 227 to 188.

Posted by Randy | August 29, 2014
I wanted to share a Washington Post article with you, which highlights that safeguards are not currently in place to stop people who are ineligible for taxpayer-subsidized healthcare from getting tax credits to help pay for premiums.

We cannot tolerate this lack of accountability. That’s why I’m supporting the No Subsidies Without Verification Act, H.R.4805, to prohibit the federal government from providing any insurance subsidies until a program that can fully verify an applicant’s eligibility is put in place.

It’s essential that an income verification system is put in place before any additional taxpayer subsidies are given out. We must protect taxpayer funds from potential fraud.  
Posted by Randy | August 28, 2014
I believe that Congress has an obligation to address our nation's fiscal challenges in a responsible fashion that does not harm seniors or future generations of Americans.   I introduced legislation (H.R.3161) to ensure that money allocated to both the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds can only be used for the purpose for which they were intended.  Medicare and Social Security need to be dependable and consistent for the seniors who rely on them.

We must fulfill the commitments we have made to our seniors – that after a lifetime of work and service to our communities, Social Security and Medicare will be there for them when they need it.

I will continue working to eliminate fraud in Medicare, oppose access to benefits for those here illegally, provide access to local pharmacies, ensure that healthcare decisions are made between patients and their doctors, instead of bureaucrats in Washington, and prioritize medical research to find cures for diseases like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
Posted by Randy | August 06, 2014
According to the World Health Organization, as of August 1st, there have been over 1,600 reported cases of the Ebola virus, and nearly 900 deaths, stemming from the African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

Two Americans have contracted the disease while working in Liberia on a medical mission trip. Both are currently being treated at Emory University Hospital, in Atlanta, and have received doses of an experimental drug, ZMapp.

While there is not currently an approved vaccine or cure for the Ebola virus, the National Institutes of Health is “fast-tracking” the development of an approved vaccine.  Currently, use of an experimental drug can receive FDA approval if it will be used to treat a patient with a serious or life-threatening disease for which there is no alternative treatment.

Further, if border patrol officers recognize an individual with symptoms of the virus, they can be quarantined and evaluated by medical personnel at ports of entry, and airports are utilizing a screening process before and after passengers enter the U.S. from the affected African countries.

Question of the weekDo you believe that the United States is taking necessary steps to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus?

( ) Yes.
( ) No.
( ) I don’t know.
( ) Other. 

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.            
Posted by Randy | July 14, 2014
I wanted to share with you a new bill I introduced.  The Independent Research and Repurposing Act, H.R.4287, encourages the development of new medical treatments by repurposing existing drugs to address new ailments, conditions, or diseases. 

Drug repurposing research is already underway in many disease areas, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, depression, sleep disorders, and Post-Traumatic Stress. 

Whether it is a servicemember suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress, or a relative recently diagnosed with cancer, discovering treatments and cures for the diseases afflicting many Americans is a priority that transcends politics. Encouraging drug repurposing is a critical avenue for discovering ground-breaking ways to combat - and ultimately cure - these devastating diseases.

I have also introduced the Patients First Act, H.R.1740, to intensify research and human clinical trials using stem cells that are ethically obtained and that show evidence of providing near-term clinical benefit for human patients. This bill recognizes that the twin goals of scientific advancement and the protection of human life are not mutually exclusive; rather, they should be one in the same.
Posted by Randy | February 25, 2014
When it comes to medical research and working to find cures for some of today’s most debilitating diseases, all too often, politics trumps the needs of the patients. This is wrong.

I introduced the bipartisan Patients First Act (H.R. 1740) to intensify research and human clinical trials using stem cells that are ethically obtained and that show evidence of providing near-term clinical benefit for human patients. This bill recognizes that the twin goals of scientific advancement and the protection of human life are not mutually exclusive; rather, they should be one and the same. By setting aside divisive political battles and prioritizing research with proven clinical success, we can finally make long-awaited progress in beating dreaded diseases.

I strongly believe that the federal government should do all it can to encourage the forms of medical research that show the most promise for curing and treating patients so we can combat these diseases.

Currently, adult stem cells are being used to treat over 70 diseases.  I will continue to work to encourage conscientious medical research to ease the suffering of those afflicted by diseases that are yet to have a cure.   
Posted by Randy | February 04, 2014

I wanted to share with you a recent article published by National Review, which details the increasingly apparent risks that Obamacare poses for small businesses. Below is a brief summary.

The Problem: “Small business is thus likely to find itself in the same predicament as individuals, in which cancellation notices abound and immediate answers are unclear or unsatisfactory.”

The Result: “Hundreds of thousands or even millions of small businesses and surely millions of their employees and dependents will have their health-insurance coverage seriously jeopardized.”

In my view, this situation is unacceptable. I supported an alternative (H.R. 3121) to Obamcare, and remain committed to fighting on behalf of our nation’s number one job creators: small businesses.

Posted by Randy | December 04, 2013
On November 27, 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule that would update payment policies and payment rates for services provided under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule on or after January 1, 2014.  

Each year since 2002, the statutory method for determining the annual updates to the Medicare physician fee schedule, known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) system, has resulted in a reduction in the reimbursement rates.  And, each year Congress has passed bills to override the reductions.   In January of this year, Congress acted to delay the previously scheduled reduction of 26.5% in the Medicare reimbursement for physician services through December 31, 2013.   Now, if Congress does not act, CMS projected that the reduction in payment rates, based on the SGR formula, would be reduced by 20.1% for services in 2014. 

Our current Medicare physician payment system is badly in need of reform.  Both the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees have put forward legislation to repeal the current SGR formula, to create a stable system of payments to our doctors, and to maintain quality access to care for our nation’s seniors.   

The way in which our doctors are reimbursed by Medicare is of absolute importance in maintaining a high level of accessible care for all patients.  It is my hope that Congress will act quickly not only to avert the scheduled payment reduction, but to enact a permanent solution to address the Medicare physician payment system.