WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 6, 2018) – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) released the following statement after the House passed a continuing resolution to fund the government until March 23, 2018, which included two pieces of her legislation. The first extends the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program for two years and doubles current funding levels. The second is the Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act, which permanently fixes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) policy that limited access to speech-generating devices for people with degenerative diseases. The continuing resolution also includes a full year of funding for the Department of Defense for Fiscal Year 2018.
“These two bills, one to bring more doctors to rural and underserved communities and another to provide permanent certainty that those with degenerative diseases will have access to speech-generating technology, are two important reforms to help people here in Eastern Washington. I’m proud to see two bills that I’ve introduced included in this funding package.
“For the sake of our troops who are serving on the front lines, we need a broader budget agreement that properly funds our military. Unfortunately, Democrats are continuing to hold military funding hostage with partisan demands, and this is delaying our progress. As a result, a continuing resolution is again necessary to keep the government open.
“It’s critical that Senate Democrats allow this legislation to move forward. That starts with ending the political games and joining us to put the safety and security of Americans first.”
NOTE: Rep. McMorris Rodgers introduced her legislation to extend the THCGME program and increase funding levels to $157,000 per student, per year, in July of 2017. This important program ensures that places like the Spokane Teaching Health Clinic can continue to serve the Eastern Washington community. Upon passing the House Energy and Commerce Committee in September, the Congresswoman said, “Bringing more physicians to Eastern Washington is one of my top priorities. Our rural and urban underserved communities struggle to access the medical professionals they need and Teaching Health Center programs like the Spokane Teaching Health Clinic will help create a new generation of rural doctors—trained right here in our community.”
Washington State University Spokane Chancellor Daryll B. DeWald had this to say about the Congresswoman’s legislation last fall: “Washington State University made an early and strong commitment to the Spokane Teaching Health Center when the institution provided funds for the design and construction of the center aimed at tackling the physician shortage by increasing residency opportunities in central and eastern Washington. We are grateful for the leadership of Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers in increasing resident slots as a way to ensure physicians stay in the region once they complete their medical education and moving this bill through committee. WSU looks forward to working with her to ensure the proposal gets across the finish line.” You can find more information about the Congresswoman’s legislation here.
In July of 2015, the Steve Gleason Act was signed into law to provide temporary relief to those with ALS and other diseases and ensured that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would reimburse for speech-generating technologies. The Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act builds upon the success of the Steve Gleason Act by making these changes permanent, so those who need these devices never have to worry about accessing them. See a full history of the Congresswoman’s efforts and learn more about the Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act by visiting her website here.
Upon introduction of this bipartisan bill, the Congresswoman said, “Steve Gleason is a hero and inspiration to all of us, and especially to the thousands of Americans living with degenerative diseases who, like him, rely on speech generating devices to communicate with their family, friends, and doctors.When bureaucratic rules threatened to silence many of them, the Gleason Act gave these individuals the peace of mind to know that their voices will continue to be heard. The Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act ensures there are ‘no white flags’ and that access to speech-generating devices continues permanently for those who need it most. This is about giving a permanent voice to the voiceless.”
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