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Public Statements

GOP Doctors Caucus

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. LUMMIS. I thank the gentleman for inviting me to participate, although a non-physician, the only non-physician here.

I thank Dr. Harris, and I want to thank Dr. Cassidy. I have seen Dr. Cassidy in the cloakroom talking on the phone, pro bono, to patients that he used to serve in Louisiana, and I have seen other members of our Doctors Caucus do the same thing.

These are people who care about their patients. And even though they're here, working for the people of the United States and their district, and not compensated financially, they are still here caring about their patients, working without compensation, pro bono, to help people that they used to serve, to make sure their lives are better and their health care is better.

So I want to compliment the physicians in this conference who have made such a difference to my life and to other people's health care lives, and I want to thank them for serving in Congress. They make a huge difference in the dialogue, the debate, the nurturing, the care, the tenderness, and in what we all experience because of their training and because of their love of the people of this country and the manner in which they serve their patients.

Mr. Speaker, I was the State treasurer of my State. I have seen Medicaid and other programs soak up the compensation that taxpayers in every State provide through taxes to their States, preventing States from being able to allocate more money to education and other State-based functions, and Medicaid is definitely one of them. In addition, States care for their working poor. States want to see their low-income, Medicaid-eligible people have access to high-quality health care and support the Medicaid program but to not support it in a way that requires these rigid handcuffs on States in a one-size-fits-all program that prevents States from innovating and from providing quality care to their people.

Case in point: My State of Wyoming has the smallest population in the Nation. As a consequence, we have the opportunity to study things that other States cannot study because their populations are so large. My State of Wyoming, through its own health care commission, studied every single Medicaid-eligible child under the age of 18. It determined that it would be over 2 1/2 times cheaper to buy each one of those children a standard Blue Cross-Blue Shield policy than it would be to provide health care through Medicaid.

These are the kinds of things that States are studying, that they are learning, that they are innovating. Furthermore, there are places in the country that are dealing with different health care problems than other places in the country.

Case in point: The Rocky Mountain West has a much higher incidence of multiple sclerosis than has other parts of the United States. No one knows why, but it's a fact. So Wyoming and other Rocky Mountain States should be able to concentrate on MS. Other States, perhaps Southern States, may have more problems with diabetes.

I recently was in Saudi Arabia. There is a tremendous diabetes problem there. They are spending tremendous amounts of money at their brand new higher education university, at which they partner with businesses, in order to study diabetes in a way that will help the great number and growing number of people who are affected by diabetes.

These should be things that regions of our country are allowed to work together on and to create programs for in order to innovate and to be the great incubators of innovation that States are. So that's why I do want to compliment the U.S. Supreme Court in the portion of the decision on ObamaCare that provided that States do not have to be held hostage under the ObamaCare law, that they do not have to expand beyond the original intent of the Medicaid-eligible population to accommodate its expansion under the ObamaCare law. They can still concentrate, if they choose, on the Medicaid-eligible population as it exists today and can continue to provide quality Medicaid to low-income, eligible constituents within their States.

That doesn't mean they should be under the same constraints they are under now to provide Medicaid to their populations--because of the variance and the kinds of diseases that are cropping up in different parts of the country and because of the different innovations that States are able to use if they are not constrained by the shackles of the Federal one size fits all.

I want to thank the physicians in our conference for continuing to raise these issues, to discuss these issues. You discuss them to the benefit of those of us who are not physicians who serve with you in Congress. You discuss these issues to the benefit of the people to whom you provide health care in this Nation, and you do it as a service to the people of this country. I thank all of the physicians who are here tonight to discuss this issue.

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