Health Care

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Historically, many areas of the Fifth District have been underserved when it comes to medical and dental care. I have worked to increase access to health care services, reduce the number of uninsured individuals and families, and improve the overall health of people in southern and eastern Kentucky.

I have consistently supported programs that serve low-income, rural residents.  For example, I have long supported Community Health Centers, and I also directed $2 million in federal funding to help establish the Center of Excellence in Rural Health facility in Hazard.  Operated by the University of Kentucky, the Center provides academic and residency programs for students from Appalachia and other small towns, while also providing an array of health services for area residents.  I am also proud to have helped to fund new health care teaching facilities at Morehead State University and Union College.  By creating a vibrant health network in our region that focuses on high quality care, wellness and prevention, we can tackle some of the most persistent problems that have plagued Appalachia, including cancer, diabetes, and obesity.  Since 2001, I have secured over $21 million for equipment, construction, and other improvements for hospitals, healthcare facilities and wellness programs throughout southern and eastern Kentucky.

Tragically, Kentucky has one of the highest cancer mortality rates in the nation, with the largest percentage of those deaths occurring in the Fifth Congressional District.  To combat this problem, I have partnered with the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center to create the Marty Driesler Lethal Cancers Project. Named in honor of my former Chief of Staff, who died in 2004 after a three-year battle with lung cancer, this first-of-its-kind healthcare initiative seeks to increase the early detection of and improve the survival rates for people with deadly cancers.

I have also worked to provide seniors with a voluntary Medicare prescription drug benefit.  In 2003, I supported the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act, which provides much needed prescription assistance to seniors across the country.  Key improvements of the reform include a universally available prescription drug benefit and low-income assistance to help our neediest senior citizens.

Today, one of the greatest challenges we face in health care policy comes from the so called “health care reform” contained in the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare.  This law was passed in 2010 under the guise of lowering health care costs, but it has only proven to create more regulations, taxes, and fees, which in turn have driven up premiums and made health care cost even more.  This has placed a terrible strain on working families seeking care, on doctors treating patients, and on states which are forced to foot the bill for much of the cost.  Additionally, this law could cost federal taxpayers a trillion dollars in the next decade.  Just about everyone agrees that health care costs have risen faster than expected in recent years, and this has made it harder for people, especially in southern and eastern Kentucky, to pay for quality care.  That is why I am committed to repealing the ObamaCare law and replacing it with commonsense reforms that address the high costs of care, including tort reform and greater competition in the insurance marketplace.  Most of all, I am committed to ensuring that people in our region have access to quality affordable health care.

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