Iowa Starting Line: Amid Impeachment, Cindy Axne Focuses on Health Care Policy
October 2, 2019
Congresswoman Cindy Axne told constituents Tuesday the United States had hit a “crisis point” in its health care system.
“Suffice it to say, you’ve got a group of people in Congress who truly understand we’re at a crisis point,” said Axne, Iowa’s 3rd District representative, at a roundtable health care discussion in Des Moines. “Whether it’s rural America or urban America, we all can’t afford what we’re facing. We have people who are falling through the cracks. We’ve got a lot that we need to do.”
In spite of a recently launched impeachment inquiry, Axne said House Democrats intended to stay focused on policy solutions to help their home districts.
“I don’t worry that anything around the impeachment inquiry will affect Democrats’ ability, and the House’s ability, to move good bills forward,” Axne told Starting Line. “I’m doing business as usual.”
For Axne, “business as usual” included releasing a bill to ward against African Swine Fever on the same day Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
“If that hits Iowa, our ag community, which is already under duress from the trade war, will be decimated,” Axne said, of the deadly livestock disease.
With Tuesday’s discussion focused on health care, Axne noted the prescription drug bill recently unveiled by House leadership, which works in large part to lower the cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices.
In the Senate, Iowa’s Chuck Grassley passed his prescription drug bill through the Finance Committee in July, in an effort to place an out-of-pocket cap on how much consumers pay annually for their prescription drugs. Grassley’s bill does not allow Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies.
“On this issue, AARP is cautiously optimistic that we can actually get something done this year,” said Brad Anderson, AARP Iowa State Director, referencing support for both the House and Senate prescription drug proposals.
Pelosi’s proposal was “one of many” Axne said would be introduced in the House as part of their effort to lower prescription drug prices.
“Of course, pharmaceuticals are just one piece of the puzzle,” she said. “We have a lot of things to address when it comes to making sure everybody can have affordable, quality care in their own backyard.”
Low reimbursement rates for health care providers, physician shortages and a lack of mental health care services also need to be addressed, the congresswoman noted.
Despite the differing interests represented at the health care forum, all agreed consumers needed to be free of financial worry when they sought health care services.
“Whatever is done, we need to help consumers,” said Noah Tabor, regional government relations manager for Medica Health Plan. “I think having that be our guidepost, having that be our North Star, we’ll all be OK.”
As Democratic presidential candidates debate how best to address health care woes in the U.S., Axne reminded her constituents about a key component made better in the Obama Administration: coverage for pre-existing conditions.
“We’re not far off from times where we could easily be taken back. We have one law in place that’s protecting that, folks, right now — that’s called the ACA,” Axne said.
For Axne and her fellow Democratic freshmen, fixing the issues that face Americans today is about more than piling on policy and increasing regulation. It’s about solving the root cause of complex problems.
“We aren’t just out there to solve policy, which we know we need to do, but we’re also out there to fix the processes that have really, quite honestly, trapped our country in multiple industries from being successful,” the congresswoman said. “None of this comes easy, but it comes from a thoughtful perspective, and it comes from taking the good that we have built in and figuring out how we can capitalize on that.”