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Saturday, August 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Guest Opinion

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers: My goal is quality, affordable health care for all

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers

I’m proud to represent an area in Congress with such a vibrant health care community, and it’s clear to me and the doctors, nurses and families I talk with that we need major changes within our health care system. Obamacare isn’t working, and the system we had before wasn’t working. Right now we are continuing to see the cost of health care and insurance soar. In some of our counties, there’s only one insurer left, and even when people can afford insurance, copays and deductibles are so high they can’t afford to go see a doctor. This isn’t a new problem, but it’s not fair to people here in Eastern Washington.

My goal is to make sure everyone has access to quality and affordable health care. At the baseline of this debate, I believe we must protect people with pre-existing conditions and ensure their health care needs are met. This isn’t just good policy – it’s a personal mission for me.

While my opponent is focused on attacking my record and not offering her own ideas, I’ve supported and will continue to advance real solutions. I’m for more choice and greater competition to lower health care costs. I’m for improving access and ensuring the most vulnerable get the care they need. I’m for ensuring a competitive health insurance marketplace where there are better choices that are tailored to the needs of families and individuals. I’m for leveraging technology to ensure people in rural Eastern Washington have access to the same quality of care as those in urban areas. And I’m for strengthening Medicare and Medicaid to protect current beneficiaries and ensure these safety net programs are strong and secure for the future.

Growing up in the small town of Kettle Falls, I’ve lived through the challenges rural communities face when it comes to accessing medical care. As I visit hospitals and health care facilities all throughout Eastern Washington, I hear about challenges from providers and patients alike. It’s heartbreaking when I hear from families struggling with higher premiums and astronomical copays or deductibles. And it’s troubling to hear from providers and hospitals in rural areas who are having difficulty keeping their doors open, struggling with low reimbursement rates and caring for high populations of Medicare and Medicaid patients.

As co-chair of the Rural Health Coalition, and as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I’ve been leading in advancing solutions that make health care more affordable and accessible. I was proud to help secure a 10-year extension for children’s health care funding, and to lead in Congress to get my legislation signed into law to extend the Teaching Health Center GME program and double its funding. This will help support residency programs here and ensure doctors who are trained in our community can stay here to practice.

I also believe we need to address skyrocketing prescription drug prices. I’ve led on legislation to bring transparency to Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) who are the middlemen between drug companies and local pharmacists and are often the source of pricing increases. Just this week, I supported legislation to ban gag clauses – contractual provisions that bar pharmacists from informing patients when it’s cheaper for them to pay out-of-pocket for their prescriptions than go through their insurance. If our pharmacists, health insurers and PBMs can know the real cost of prescriptions, so should our patients.

At the same time, I want America to continue to lead the world in medical innovation and breakthroughs. I led on the 21st Century Cures Act, which is creating an environment where new, life-saving drugs can more easily get to market and save lives. This year, I’ve also voted for billions in increased funding for the National Institutes of Health, including nearly quadrupling funding for Alzheimer’s research and significantly increasing funding for cancer research.

We all have the shared goal for people here in our community to have access to quality and affordable health care. However, I don’t believe we achieve that goal by putting the government in charge of your health care decisions. I believe we achieve it by coming together and finding common ground to address the cost drivers in our health care system, increase competition, and advance common-sense reforms that provide access to people in rural communities. There’s a lot of work ahead of us, but I am committed to fighting for the best health care for you and your family – just like it’s my own family.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R, is the U.S. representative for the 5th Congressional District of Washington.

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