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Update from Rep. Greg Walden

News from Representative Walden

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Dear Jay:

My seventh in-person town hall of the year took me to Malheur County, a region that has felt the destruction of an extremely harsh winter. Unprecedented snowfall has collapsed hundreds of structures, and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and great hardship for the people who live there. During my visit to Ontario, I saw first-hand the devastating impact this year’s snowfall has had on businesses, the area’s economy, and especially the local agriculture industry. I’ve called on the President to swiftly make a disaster declaration so the local communities can get the immediate assistance they desperately need, and I am hopeful he will act soon.

Click here or on the image above to view KTVB’s coverage of my recent town hall in Ontario, and my tour through the city to see first-hand the damage from this year’s winter.

At the town hall meeting in Ontario, I provided an update on my work in Congress to grow jobs in rural communities like Malheur County, cut unnecessary federal red tape, and fix our nation’s health care system. We also discussed reining in government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality, which have both burdened rural economies in Oregon with overregulation. I will continue my work in Congress to provide relief to our farming and ranching communities, who’ve felt the brunt of an overreaching federal government.

 Thanks to all who participated in the Malheur Country town hall where we engaged in a thoughtful and substantive discussion on improving the economy in rural communities, reducing burdensome regulations, and improving our nation’s health care system.

I encourage you to continue reading for more about my recent work as your representative in Congress, as well as Oregonians I met with in the past few weeks.

Meeting with Oregonians in the nation’s capital

Members of the Oregon Potato Commission updated me on federal issues affecting the agriculture industry in Oregon.

Paula Fong and Lee Juillerat of the Crater Lake Natural History Association discussed the importance of taking care of Oregon’s only National Park. I share Paula and Lee’s deep commitment to preserving and promoting the national treasure that is Crater Lake National Park.

Representatives who work hard to take care of our veterans who live in our Oregon Veterans’ Homes gave me important input regarding health care policy and funding issues they face.

Continuing the process of rebuilding our nation’s health care system

Click here or on the image above to hear my remarks on health care at a recent House Republican News Conference

The House Energy and Commerce Committee — which I chair — continues to be hard at work rebuilding our nation’s health care system. Recently, I provided a brief update on the committee’s health care work at a news conference with my fellow House Republicans. I spoke of providing Oregonians with access to affordable health insurance, and providing states like Oregon with flexibility to innovate when it comes to their individual health care systems.

I’ve heard from farmers, ranchers, and small business owners who are experiencing skyrocketing premiums, and who’ve not been able to keep their plan or doctor. After meeting with states and governors across the country, it is clear that this is not sustainable, and the federal government must allow states to innovate to solve this problem. Our state of Oregon has had quite a bit of innovation over the years, such as the Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs) that have brought better health care outcomes to Oregonians at lower costs. These are the great ideas that are out there in our states, but right now they have to beg permission from federal bureaucrats to be able to do anything innovative.

We want to give states flexibility and provide all Americans with better health care. We will accomplish both goals in legislation we’ll be considering in the near future.

Protecting patients with pre-existing conditions

While we work to repair our nation’s failing health care system, patients remain the focal point of our efforts. At town hall meetings around Oregon, I’ve heard a clear message: we need to guarantee our health care system works better for all Oregonians. I am committed to protecting patients living with pre-existing conditions — period. By focusing on patient centered reforms, we will increase access to quality, affordable care and guarantee that all Oregonians are protected from unfair, higher premium costs simply due to how healthy or sick they may be.

That’s why I’ve introduced the Pre-Existing Conditions Protection Act. This legislation aims to reaffirm guaranteed health care access, ensure that enrollees cannot have benefits excluded from a plan due to a pre-existing condition, and that patients will not pay more based on their health care status.

This legislation is just another step toward keeping our commitment to fix the problems with our health care system and protect vulnerable patients from being treated unfairly. As I continue to work hard to rebuild our nation’s health care system, I will always aim to put what’s best for patients first.

I also appreciate the input I’ve received from people who have benefited from Oregon’s approach to providing care to those most in need. We need to give other state’s the flexibility we’ve had to innovate and work toward achieving better health outcomes.

To read more about this bill, please click here.

Modernizing Oregon’s energy infrastructure

Click here or on the image above to view my remarks at a recent hearing of the Energy and Commerce Committee regarding updating our nation’s energy infrastructure

At a recent hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I spoke of the importance of updating America’s energy infrastructure. As technology continues to change the way we go about our daily lives, we also have to rethink how we deliver and consume electricity. This is especially true in central Oregon, where an outdated power grid is preventing economic growth.

Last month, I convened a meeting with city of Prineville officials, the local power utility and representatives of the Bonneville Power Administration to discuss the lack of access to enough electricity to meet the demand of a potential, major new employer.  Most of us were surprised and disappointed to learn that the electrical grid in Prineville is not sufficient to support that proposed project, and it could take three years or more before the city could get the electricity  this community needs. That is not acceptable.

We need action to modernize America’s energy infrastructure, so that communities in Oregon — like Prineville — can reach their full economic potential. We can’t keep losing out on new jobs.  The Energy and Commerce Committee will be at the forefront of tackling this challenge head on.

Boosting Oregon’s transportation priorities

Recently, I called to congratulate Elaine Chao on becoming Secretary of Transportation.  I also took the opportunity to discuss our nation’s infrastructure needs and Oregon’s transportation priorities. During our conversation, she confirmed to me that — contrary to some reports — there is no list of the Transportation Department’s priorities that excludes Oregon. Period.

Having known Elaine for years, I am confident that she will work closely with me on our district’s needs, and that Oregon’s initiatives will have the support of the Department of Transportation. I look forward to working alongside Secretary Chao as we seek to achieve Oregon’s long-term transportation goals and upgrade America’s vast infrastructure.

That’s all for this update. Remember, you can always keep in touch with me via email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Best regards,

Greg Walden
U.S. Representative
Oregon’s Second District


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