Congressman Gary Palmer, R-Hoover, on Tuesday praised a recent executive order expanding telehealth services for Medicare recipients. President Donald Trump recently signed the order designed to expand access to care for Medicare beneficiaries, particularly those in rural areas. In response, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a proposed rule that would permanently add certain services to those eligible to be delivered via telemedicine.
“The Executive Order signed by the President will be a lifeline for rural communities that often lack meaningful access to care,” Palmer said. “The unprecedented expansion of telehealth services overseen by the Trump Administration during the pandemic will have lasting benefits for patients and I’m pleased to see some of these changes made permanent. These changes, combined with investments in the infrastructure necessary for their delivery, will ensure patients receive the care they need without having to travel long distances to be seen by a provider and I believe it will save lives.”
“Expanded access to medical care through telemedicine is essential to fighting the virus,” Trump said.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that just 0.1 percent of primary care visits covered by traditional Medicare were done via telehealth in February. COVID-19 brought about dramatic changes in how Americans receive their health care services. This spring, from March to April, the number of patients using telehealth services in traditional Medicare increased from roughly 13,000 a week to over 1.5 million a week. By April, 43.5 percent of primary care visits paid for by traditional Medicare were utilizing telehealth services.
“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services dramatically expanded Medicare coverage for telehealth, doubling the number of services that can be provided through telehealth to include everything from emergency department visits to eye exams and therapy services,” Azar wrote. “HHS’s Office for Civil Rights provided flexibility to allow health care providers to do telehealth visits immediately using popular communication apps like FaceTime and Skype, without any additional paperwork and without risking penalties for HIPAA violations. HHS’s Office of Inspector General provided flexibility for healthcare providers to reduce or waive cost-sharing for telehealth in federal programs, so that providers can limit costs to patients using telehealth.”
“We’re now aggressively looking at how to make the telehealth revolution a permanent part of American medicine,” Azar explained. “The past several months will give us experience and data that can inform regulatory reforms. In many cases, Congress needs to make statutory changes, and we’re working with members of both parties on that already.”
The president’s executive order requires HHS to announce a new payment model testing innovations that empower rural hospitals to transform health care in their communities on a broader scale.
To improve connectivity, the president’s order also directs the federal government to launch a joint initiative in 30 days to improve the health care communication infrastructure and to expand rural health care services.
The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense have also taken steps to expand telehealth services for veterans, active military and their families.
Palmer represents Alabama’s 6th Congressional District.
Rogers disappointed Democrats have not offered a Homeland Security reauthorization
Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, wrote an editorial in the Washington Examiner saying that he is disappointed but not surprised that Democrats have yet to offer a reauthorization package for the Department of Homeland Security.
“It’s been over 1,100 days since the last Department of Homeland Security authorization bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Rogers said. “And as we approach the end of the 116th Congress, the chances grow thin of the majority introducing legislation to provide the Department of Homeland Security with the resources and authorities it needs to stop the growing threats to our homeland.”
“I wish I could say I’m surprised Democrats have yet to offer a reauthorization package,” Rogers wrote. “However, this is the party that started out this Congress with calls to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
Rogers slammed House Democrats for what he claimed is a trend of becoming increasingly anti-law enforcement and ignoring “violent mobs” that have been rioting in many major cities.
“This is the party that last year called the unprecedented migrant surge at the Southwest border a ‘Fake Emergency,’ and took half a year to vote on critical humanitarian funding to address the crisis,” Rogers said. “This is the party that turned a blind eye as violent mobs took over cities across our country. It’s reached the point that now some on the left are calling for the abolition of DHS and the defunding of our police.”
Rogers said that while Democrats have done nothing, House Republicans have introduced a two-year reauthorization bill in The Keep America Secure Act.
Rogers said that The Keep America Secure Act will provide DHS with the resources and authorities that the department needs to stay ahead of evolving threats and position DHS to be successful on new battlegrounds.
Rogers is the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee and a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee
Rogers represents Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District. He is seeking his tenth term in the U.S. House of Representatives in this Nov. 3’s general election. Adia Winfrey is the Democratic challenger.
Aderholt says low Census response rate will come with big consequences for Alabama
Alabama trails the nation in 2020 Census response and that matters, says Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, in an email to his 4th Congressional District constituents.
“In more ways than we could possibly name, Alabama is the best state in the nation,” Aderholt said. “However, when it comes to the 2020 Census, we are sitting in last place in the country. Currently 81.5% of Alabama households have been counted, but that is nearly 10% less than the national count of 90.1%. I think we can do better, so let’s make Alabama count.”
“Why it Matters. One of the biggest questions asked every decade when the Census comes up is: why does it matter?” Aderholt said. “This is a great question, and I understand why it gets asked so often. So, I want to give you a few different answers that are grounded in facts. Federal Funds: It is estimated that per 100 people not counted in the Census, roughly $1.2 million dollars of federal funding is lost for your community. Here are just a few of the many items that would have funding severely cut due to a lack of Census responses: Schools, roads, hospitals, block grants, vocational education, and fire departments. These are all crucial aspects of living in a community, and they are all at risk of funding decreases.
“Jobs: Census numbers are used by both public and private organizations to determine where to build and bring business. This means that employment opportunities and economic development are at stake when it comes to the Census. This aspect is often overlooked, but it may just be the most consequential of them all. Representation in Congress: You probably know this one already, but Congressional districts are based on population.
“This means that the more people that are counted in your state the more representation your state has in the House of Representatives. For Alabama, we are in danger of losing a Congressional seat, so our count this year matters a great deal. Civil Rights: As a matter of fact, certain programs based around civil rights issues are directly correlated to the Census. Things like compliance with the National Voting Rights Act of 1965, housing, employment, and education anti-discrimination laws are monitored and enforced using the population count from the Census.”
Go to my2020census.gov and follow the instructions on screen, or you can call 844-330-2020.
“I would encourage you all to fill yours out today and make Alabama count for the next decade,” Aderholt said. ‘If you have already completed your Census, please tell your friends and family to fills theirs out and spread the word.”
Aderholt explained that the Census first started in 1790 and was conducted by Thomas Jefferson. The nation then had a population of just 3,929,214, compared to roughly 328 million today.
“From 1790 to 1879, the Census was counted by Federal Marshals going door-to-door across the country,” Aderholt explained. “Back then they would show up to your house on horseback and fill out the numbers on parchment or animal skin. Although this sounds pretty cool to me, I am sure glad we can do it on our phones now. The Census started out with only 6 questions, then rose to 34 in 1920, but has settled back down to an even 10 the past couple decades.”
The state of Alabama has seven congressional districts currently, but it appears that the state is likely to lose at least one, given the state’s modest growth over the last decade and the people of Alabama’s awful Census response rate.
Aderholt is in his 12th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. He faces a general election challenge from Democratic candidate Rick Neighbors.
Aderholt supports the Republican Commitment to America plan
Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, released a statement this week in support of the Republican Commitment to America, a plan put forth by House Republicans if the voters will give them control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the upcoming elections.
“The future of our country will be determined in the next few months,” Aderholt said, “Make no mistake about it, what we do right now will have a ripple effect for many years to come. That’s why I fully support and endorse the Commitment to America, because the clear path toward a bright future is paved with a restoration of our way of life, the rebuilding of the greatest economy in history, and a renewal of the American Dream.”
“First and foremost, we need to restore our way of life,” Aderholt said. “We are well on the way to defeating the virus and deploying a vaccine. This also means we need to stop the rioting, defend the police, and help people feel safe again. Second, we must restore what was once the greatest economy the world has ever seen. We will support local businesses and spur activities to create new jobs. And it’s time for us to bring manufacturing back to America and hold China accountable for their unfair trade practices, their theft of intellectual property, and their crackdown on human rights. Finally, we must renew the American Dream and ensure it returns to the pedestal it belongs on. This starts by giving every family a choice in where to send their kids to school, taking care of and hiring our veterans, and promoting opportunities for workforce development.”
“This Commitment to America is the right path to take as a country, and I would encourage my colleagues across the aisle to work with us as we enter the final stretch of 2020,” Aderholt said. “Restoring, rebuilding, and renewing our country is critically important right now, so let’s get to work.”
“We are announcing our Commitment to America with three specific objectives: restore our way of life, rebuild the greatest economy in history, and renew the American dream,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California.
“To rebuild our economy, we will commit to get America working again and add 10 million new jobs through proven, pro-growth policies,” McCarthy said. “That starts with $200 billion in forgivable loans to local businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program. This program, which I call our Marshall Plan for Main Street, has already saved 51 million jobs and can still save more. Democrats’ continued refusal to pass more relief over politics will only take our economy backward.”
“Without question, we must and we will defeat COVID-19 and keep America healthy,” McCarthy said. “To restore our way of life, we will work to triple rapid testing nationwide, deliver a vaccine that is safe, effective, and available by the end of the year, protect individuals with pre-existing conditions, and invest in therapeutics while lowering drug prices across the board.”
“Following the recommendations of the China Task Force that House Republicans established last spring, we will increase U.S. manufacturing and build supply chain resiliency through full expensing on a permanent basis for all U.S. investment and restoration of domestic production tax credits,” McCarthy said. “While Democrats ignore the threat from China, Republicans will take it head on.”
After the COVID-19 crisis is over “many communities will still be gripped by unrest that continues to lead to violence,” McCarthy wrote. “Without respect for public safety, all the pro-growth policies in the world won’t put America back on her feet. We must ensure the security and safety of all communities. That means improving our police forces, not defunding them. We will increase funding for law enforcement by $1.75 billion for better police training, community policing, and equipment, including 500,000 more body cameras on the streets.”
“To renew the American Dream, we will ensure every child in every neighborhood can go to the school that is best for them, while directing millions towards high-quality STEM education to prepare our kids for the jobs of tomorrow,” McCarthy said in support of expanding school choice. “At the same time, we will promote opportunities for career and technical education and workforce development for any American looking to earn a promotion or pursue a meaningful new career, especially our nation’s veterans.”
Aderholt is in his 12th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. He faces a challenge this year from Democratic nominee Rick Neighbors.
Sen. Doug Jones: “I voted no because the American people deserve better”
“If we let this pass, there would never be another opportunity to do more, to get help to the people who need it,” Jones said. “That’s why I voted no. I voted no because the American workers deserve better.”
Calling it a “political ploy” by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Alabama Sen. Doug Jones joined his Democratic Party colleagues on Thursday in voting against a slimmed down COVID-relief bill that did little to address average workers’ problems with the pandemic.
“Mitch McConnell doesn’t care about the American people, he doesn’t understand the American worker,” Jones said. “This was a stunt. He wants partisan agreement, not a bipartisan bill to help people who are hurting.”
Jones said that McConnell also introduced a scaled-down bill during the previous round of COVID-relief negotiations, which Democrats also defeated. After that defeat, McConnell worked with Democrats and a bipartisan bill passed the Senate with overwhelming support from both parties.
“Alabama would have lost about $2 billion had I voted for the scaled down version last time,” Jones said. “That wasn’t a good bill for the people and this one wasn’t either.”
Jones also pushed back on the notion that Democrats had “blocked” a COVID-19 relief bill, pointing out that House Democrats had passed an expansive relief bill before the summer break in July.
“There’s no reason we couldn’t have used that bill, which wasn’t a perfect bill, as a starting point,” Jones said. “Everyone knew this virus was going to be around through the summer, through the fall. We knew it. I asked for us not to leave, to get this done (before the break). We didn’t. And now we come back and McConnell has this bill that’s less than half of what he proposed before the break, because that’s all he can get his people to agree on. It’s not good enough.”
McConnell’s slimmed down relief bill didn’t include rent protection to prevent those who are out of work because of the virus from being evicted (and to provide aid to landlords). It also didn’t include stimulus payments to Americans out of work or any relief to state or local governments, which are starting to lay off workers. It also trimmed by two-thirds the extended unemployment benefits for Americans out of work, taking the federal payments from $600 to $200.
Jones pointed out that the bill did include, oddly, a $5 billion gift to parents who send their kids to private schools. That money, he said, was included to win Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s vote.
“We have too many people hurting right now to play these games,” Jones said. “Too many good people are out of work and need our help. We owe it to them to do better. If we let this pass, there would never be another opportunity to do more, to get help to the people who need it. That’s why I voted no. I voted no because the American workers deserve better.”