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Posted by Randy | March 13, 2015
Recently, I cosponsored the Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act of 2015 (H.R.793) to help protect 4th District seniors who live in rural areas and depend upon the local community pharmacy nearest them.

Here’s how it works: While Medicare Part D preferred pharmacy network plans were created to help make prescription drugs more affordable, these plans have also unintentionally put some 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.

This bill will help ensure seniors have better access to prescription medications while helping keep rural community pharmacies competitive with larger pharmacies, by allowing any willing pharmacy located within a designated medically underserved or health professional shortage area to participate in the Medicare Part D preferred network program. This helps reinforce and preserve the critical role that local pharmacies play in delivering care to our rural communities.

I will keep you posted on this bill as it progresses through the House.
Posted by Randy | October 30, 2014
Earlier this month, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte sent a letter to both Secretary of State Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Johnson, asking if the Administration was planning to allow individuals from foreign countries who have contracted Ebola to come to the United States for treatment.

Reports indicate that an internal State Department document has been released, outlining a proposal to transport non-U.S. citizens who have contracted the Ebola virus to the United States; however, State Department officials have said that the document was never approved and there is no plan for such action.

Question of the weekDo you support bringing foreign Ebola patients to the United States to receive treatment?

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

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | October 28, 2014
In October, focus turns to bringing awareness to diseases like breast cancer and lupus. I believe we must bring more than just awareness, we must prioritize medical research and find new ways to treat diseases. That’s why I introduced legislation to find cures for diseases like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. The Patients First Act (H.R. 1740) would 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.

With the research community on the verge of numerous medical advancements, it is imperative that we direct taxpayer dollars to medical research that will provide the most benefit to patients in the shortest amount of time.  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.

I also introduced the Independent Innovator and Repurposing Act, H.R.4287, which seeks to encourage the development of new medical treatments, by repurposing existing drugs to address new ailments, conditions, or diseases like epilepsy, cancer, and post-traumatic stress. 
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.