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Posted by Randy | July 08, 2015

Wanted to update you briefly on some legislation that I thought you would be interested in. These bills, which recently passed the House or are scheduled to be voted on soon, help ensure our healthcare system is putting patients first and ensuring they get the quality care they need:

  • Protecting life-saving devices. The Protect Medical Innovation Act, H.R. 160, will repeal the 2.3% excise tax on medical device manufacturers that has been criticized for eliminating jobs and reducing investment in research, including those crucial to the lives of seniors.
  • Defending access to Medicare. This bill, H.R. 1190, which passed the House, repeals the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) comprised of 15 presidentially appointed government bureaucrats tasked with cutting Medicare costs through cuts to providers, limiting access to care for seniors. 
  • Ensuring access to quality, low-cost prescription drug plans.  I supported the Increasing Regulatory Fairness Act, H.R. 2507, to alter the annual payment adjustment schedule for Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans so that plan sponsors and seniors have appropriate time to review any rate changes and provide feedback.
  • Promoting better health outcomes. I voted for the Strengthening Medicare Advantage through Innovation and Transparency for Seniors Act, H.R. 2570, which establishes a pilot program to determine how a reduction in high-value prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries can increase utilization and improve patient outcomes.
Seniors are more than just a group of people. They are our mothers, fathers, pastors, teachers, and mentors.  They have done so much for us, the least we can do is ensure they have access to quality care that is actually affordable and tailored to their unique needs.
Posted by Randy | July 08, 2015
Prioritizing medical research with proven clinical success for patients should be a no-brainer.

That is why I recently introduced the Patients First Act, which makes research that uses ethically obtained adult stem cells to treat and cure diseases afflicting many Americans a top priority. In recent years, incredible progress has been made in adult stem cell research, including the treatment of diseases such as spinal cord injury, breast cancer, Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. These advances are clear evidence that stem cells can provide benefits to patients, while being ethically obtained. Importantly, this bill does not authorize any more funding – instead, it focuses existing funds on projects that prove to have the greatest benefits in treating patients.

Our message to our country needs to be crystal clear: patients come before politics. Prioritizing adult stem cell research that has the greatest potential for near-term clinical benefits is a move that makes sense for all Americans. Let’s put our patients first.
Posted by Randy | May 28, 2015
In case you missed it, today marked a critical next step in the House of Representatives’ lawsuit challenging the President’s healthcare law, as the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia heard arguments on the “motion to dismiss” filed by the Administration.

The arguments today addressed the threshold question of whether the House has a right to have its claims heard in federal court. The Administration is arguing that it does not. Why is this is so important? Because if the executive branch is able to spend public funds without an appropriation from Congress – as the Administration is doing – while Congress is excluded from challenging this action in federal court, then Congress’ “power of the purse” is all but meaningless. Congress’ decision making authority over funding federal programs is foundational to Congress’s ability to serve as a check to the powers of the executive branch and crucial to our government’s trisected division of power.

At the end of the day, the protection of the American peoples’ rights depends on the three branches of government’s ability to effectively check and balance one another. That is why this fight matters.

I will keep you posted.

Posted by Randy | April 21, 2015
Recently, I joined my Virginia colleagues in sending a letter to the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center demanding decisive action to address the unacceptable claims backlog. Specifically, we are requesting to know the immediate steps being taken to bring down wait times to the Department’s standards – including a detailed explanation of what is being done to increase responsiveness to patient inquiries and the timetable for resolving the backlog.

As the Congressional delegation representing nearly 368,000 veterans, we have an obligation to ensure our men and women in uniform are receiving the benefits they have earned in a timely manner. Our veterans did not wait to answer the call of duty; they should not have to wait to receive timely, quality medical care. They deserve the best this country can offer – not backlogs, bureaucracy, and blunders.

There is no higher purpose of our government than to protect those who sacrificed to preserve our freedom. Read the text of the letter, here.

I will keep you posted as we look for a reply from the VA. We made a promise to care for our men and women in uniform, and their families, long after their service is complete, and it is our duty to meet those obligations. 
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.