A Message From Senator Richard Burr May 20, 2011

May 20, 2011

Yesterday, I joined with Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) in introducing a bill that reforms Medicaid to improve care for patients and empower states with the tools they need toinnovate and create a model that best fits their needs. Currently, Medicaid, a program rife with issues of waste and abuse, promises coverage to patients, but this promise does not result in access - 40% of physicians deny access to patients in this program. Additionally, states do not have the flexibility they need to make basic improvements to their programs.

Our bill, the Medicaid Improvement and State Empowerment Act, is an important first step in reforming our nation's health care system and fixing our broken entitlement programs.It repeals the new health care law and the maintenance of effort requirement contained in the stimulus and frees states from bureaucratic red tape so they can make reforms that will improve care for patients. States have a proven track record of being able to adopt innovative solutions to improve patient care. By giving them more control over their own Medicaid programs, we are allowing states to innovate and better meet their needs and, most importantly, the health care needs of patients. To read more about this bill, click here.

In other news from Washington this week, I attended a hearing of the HELP Committee on Tuesday where we discussed the need to improve America's preparedness and response capabilities for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. Whether these threats occur naturally, like pandemic flu, or are the result of an intentional attack, we must be prepared to quickly and effectively respond to all threats, including having necessary, life-saving medical countermeasures. To view a video of my opening statement at this hearing, click here.

In 2006, the Senate passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), a bill I authored that achieves these goals by allowing, among other things, for the rapid development of drugs and vaccines to protect against threats such as pandemic flu and bioterrorism. This bill will be up for reauthorization soon, and I hope my colleagues will act quickly to ensure that we are as prepared as we can be to protect the American people from these threats.

On Wednesday, I had the honor to meet with over one hundred World War II veterans from the Triad who traveled to Washington on a trip put on by the Honor Flight Network. As many of you who have been subscribers of this newsletter for a while know, Honor Flight is a group that flies World War II veterans to Washington, DC free of charge to visit the memorial that honors their service. I am deeply grateful to these men and women for their service, their love of country, and their strength of character.

Also on Wednesday, I attended a hearing of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs where I made opening remarks about the importance of improving collaboration between the Department of Defense and VA to help improve the lives of our nation's wounded warriors and their families as they transition from active duty to veteran status and civilian life. While steps have been made to improve coordination between the two agencies, issues still remain. We need to take a serious look at whether these programs, as currently structured, are the best way to meet the needs of wounded servicemembers and their families. I will continue to work with my fellow committee members, veterans, and VA and DoD to ensure that wounded servicemembers get the care, services, and benefits they earned without hassle or delay. A video of my opening remarks can be found here.

Finally, I had the opportunity to meet with a remarkable North Carolinian, Karen Caruso, who was in Washington this week to be honored at the 2011 U.S. Small Business Administration's Small Business Week. Karen is the CEO of Mind Your Business, Inc., a company that provides background checks and pre-employment screenings for individual and corporate clients. After starting her business with just one employee in her basement, Mind Your Business, Inc., now has fifteen full-time employees, several hundred sub-contractors, and provides services to over 1,500 clients worldwide. It is entrepreneurs like Karen who, even in difficult economic times, keep our economy afloat. Congratulations, Karen, keep up the good work.

Stay tuned to my website, as well as my Facebook and Twitter pages, as the Senatedebates important issues includingbudget reforms in the coming weeks.


U.S. Senator Richard Burr