With both houses of Congress controlled by different political parties, there seems to be an ongoing back and forth of who is to blame for the problems our nation faces, and why. It seems that some in Washington are content with abandoning the need for civility in discourse, in exchange for finger pointing and shifting responsibility. With polarizing figures in the extremes of both political parties controlling much of the conversation, many are left in the middle, tasked with weeding out the rhetoric and working to establish common ground on the many issues at hand and get everyone back to work.
Simply put, the only way we can truly rebuild our economy and get our nation back on track is by finding bipartisan solutions to the problems we face. We cannot let the livelihood and wellbeing of the people of our great nation be further endangered by the politics of ineffectiveness. No one single party has a monopoly on good ideas, and I'm continuing to work with folks on both sides of the aisle to make sure the people of our district get the fair shot they deserve.
As we work to rein in spending, I've made my promise to protect our seniors an important focus when considering any cuts. We must keep the promise we've made to those that came before us, and we cannot force any unnecessary sacrifices or burdens on them. This week, I was proud to join with colleagues on both sides of the aisle in proposing H.R. 1041, the Fairness in Medicare Bidding Act. This bill would end the strangely named "competitive bidding" program for durable medical equipment that has placed an unfortunate burden on seniors in the form of less choice of supplies, and thus, less access to care.
This bidding program has limited seniors' ability to buy supplies from local providers, including many they've relied on for years and actually limited competitiveness. Folks reach out to me every week who are suffering from diabetes that are now having similar issue with treatments and supplies that they rely on daily. We can repeal this misguided program at no added cost and give our seniors back the safety and certainty they rely on in buying local, a practice we should all do more often, and have real competitiveness and choice.
I have also cosponsored bipartisan legislation to block the creation of a proposed Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a provision in the health care bill that would grant an unelected 15-member board the authority to allow or deny funding to Medicare without the consent of Congress, a drastic change from the current Payment Advisory Board that makes thorough recommendations to Congress. We must take steps to ensure that Medicare will provide high-quality low-cost care to our seniors. We must leave as much of the decision making surrounding healthcare where it belongs -- between patients and their doctors.
Our brave men and women of the Armed Forces deserve every bit of care our nation can provide to them. As a member of the Armed Services Committee and co-chair of the Invisible Wounds Caucus, I'm working hard to help raise awareness and find better ways of addressing many of the "unseen" wounds of combat. From Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) to Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), we've seen an increase in use of service dogs for treatment of many effects of combat-related injuries.
This week, I was proud to cosponsor the Veterans Equal Treatment for Service Dogs Act, or VETS Dogs Act. This bill will allow for increased use of service dogs within the VA system and allow the animals to be on VA property and in hospitals. As we work to find the most effective ways to treat our heroes, we must make sure that nothing stands in their way. I'll continue to advocate for better care for our veterans in any form possible. We owe them so much, and I was glad to join Congressman John Carter (R-TX) in proposing this common sense bill.
Finally, as we've seen gas prices rise in these times of economic uncertainly and international turmoil in the Middle East and elsewhere, we must also be sure to keep an eye out for deceitful instances of price gouging at the pump. Sadly, as we see oil prices fluctuate based on global skepticism and speculation, some have decided to shift an additional cost on to consumers in the form of inflated prices for fuel. Those who are making that investment to fill their tanks in order to get to work or drive their children to and from school simply do not deserve an added financial burden based solely on another person's greed.
To directly combat this unfair practice, I was proud to cosponsor H.R. 964 this week, the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act. This bill would allow the Federal Trade Commission and state Attorneys General to seek further civil and criminal penalties against those found to be price gouging at the pump during these times of international emergency or uncertainty.
I urge more of my colleagues to sign onto this legislation and work to add an extra level of security to our working families that are doing all they can to get by. As we continue to see gas prices hover near $4 a gallon this week, I pledge to continue to take on anyone attempting to take advantage of North Carolinians trying to make ends meet in this tough economy.
As we work to get back on our feet, we've got a tough road ahead of us. I'll continue to work for bipartisan solutions to fix the problems we face, and I'll always keep your interests in mind along the way.