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Speaking Up for West Virginia Seniors

On Wednesday, representatives of the West Virginia home health community joined me to rally to Save Home Health. We gathered to speak out against unprecedented Medicare cuts to home health services that are part of the Affordable Care Act(ACA). These cuts, which started going into effect on January 1st, are already negatively impacting patient access to home health services and healthcare jobs across the state.

The Obama Administration itself, projected that up to 40% of home health agencies would close across the country or have a significant reduction in services by 2017. In addition, a majority of home health patients live in medically underserved rural areas. In West Virginia, half of our home health patients reside in rural areas, putting these populations at particular risk from these cuts.

Home healthcare is a vital solution to improving patient health while, at the same time, decreasing costs. Home health allows patients to receive low-cost care in the safety of their homes, which reduces Medicare expenditures in more expensive institutional care settings. According to AARP, 89% of seniors would prefer to receive care at home.

In addition to this rally, I have worked tirelessly in Congress to protect access to home healthcare for our seniors. Prior to the cut taking effect, I sent a letter with 140 of my colleagues to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS)asking them to provide a complete impact analysis of the proposed rule. I also am an original cosponsor of the Securing Access Via Excellence(SAVE)in Medicare Home Health Act(H.R. 5110), which would replace these cuts and enable millions of seniors to remain in their homes. This fight is not over, and rallies like these are only the beginning.

 

Finding Solutions with Teachers

While traveling the First District I have been holding a series of roundtable meetings, where I can learn about the issues most concerning to people, and come up with solutions. This week I continued these meetings in Bridgeport, where I met with educators from around Harrison County. We had a lively discussion, covering topics from the WESTEST to the increase in truancy in West Virginia.

The 10 educators I met with discussed with me the top issues they believe are facing West Virginia schools; including parental involvement, and the growing drug epidemic. These meetings don’t just address the problems, we also cover possible solutions. The concerns regarding too much emphasis being placed on testing, and it not giving an accurate picture, led me to co-sponsor the Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act(H.R. 4172). I also offered a “Multiple Measures” amendment to the Student Success Act that passed the House last year. This amendment allowed flexibility to state and local governments to decide how to measure school success, so they wouldn’t have to entirely rely on testing.

 

Protecting Passengers on Planes

This past February, the Federal Communications Commission(FCC)ruled that using cell phones during flight doesn’t interfere with communication equipment; however that doesn’t account for other safety hazards in-flight conversations could cause. Letting people make calls while in-flight could cause dangerous situations. We have already seen physical altercations on flights due to lack of leg room; loud, intrusive cell phone conversations in the air would only make things worse. In response, I led a letter along with 77 of my colleagues to the heads of the Department of Transportation, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice and the FCC, and urged them to do a comprehensive review of the policy.

There has already been bipartisan agreement in Congress about this rule. The House Transportation Committee already passed a bill banning the use of cell phones in-flight. While passengers should be able to use their mobile devise to stay connected through getting online, using email, texting, and more; voice cell phone calls should be made on the ground.

 

Big Win Against EPA Overregulation

A ruling passed down last week was a big win for farmers. A U.S. District Court Judge ruled that stormwater from the Alt Eight is Enough farm in Hardy County, is not subject to EPA regulation under the Clean Water Act.

Back in 2011 Lois Alt, of the Alt Eight is Enough farm, was told by the EPA that she had to get a permit for the runoff from her farm that could wash from the property by rain and run into Mudlick Run, which feeds the Potomac River. They were threatened with a fine of $37,500 a day if they did not comply. After challenging that ruling, the EPA withdrew the permit requirement, but the Alts continued to challenge the EPA, concerned for the possible effects on other farmers.

Back in May I had to opportunity to tour the Alt farm. This new ruling is not just a win for the Alts, it’s a win for all farmers dealing with over regulation by the EPA. This just adds to the recent proposed rules coming down from the Administration, including the “waters of the U.S.” rule. This is just the beginning of fighting back against the EPA arbitrarily placing regulations and fines on people and hurting our small businesses and farmers.

 

Meeting with Students in Parkersburg

Continuing my travels in the First District, I met with students from Parkersburg High School. During the discussion the students asked questions about what it’s like to work in Congress, working to protect the coal industry, climate change, and other current issues.

These bright young minds represent our youngest citizens, and it’s always a great opportunity for me to hear from them. One of the greatest privileges of working in Congress is helping our brightest students represent West Virginia and attend Military Academies across our Country. Several of the students I met with in Parkersburg are pursuing that chance.

 

Constituent Meetings

Throughout October I will be traveling around the First District meeting with constituents and visiting local businesses. Keep an eye out, I may be visiting your town.

If you are ever in the Washington D.C. office please drop in and say hello. If you want an appointment just give my office a call at 202-225-4172, or submit a request on my website at www.mckinley.house.gov.

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Washington, DC
412 Cannon HOB | Washington, DC 20515
Phone:(202)225-4172 | Fax:(202)225-7564
Morgantown
709 Beechurst Ave.
Suite 14B
Morgantown, WV 26505
Phone: 304.284.8506
Wheeling
Horne Building
1100 Main Street, Suite 101
Wheeling, WV 26003
Phone:(304)232-3801
Fax: 304-232-3813
Parkersburg
Federal Building
425 Juliana Street
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Parkersburg, WV 26101
Phone:(304)422-5972