Washington, D.C. – This week, I talked with U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar about the specific steps the Donald Trump Administration and state and local health systems are taking to protect Americans against the coronavirus – a viral disease that was first detected in Wuhan, China.
The Administration is doing an excellent job of keeping Americans safe so far—in other countries this virus has spread at an alarming rate, but an effective effort in our country has limited the number of cases to 15.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced Vice President Pence will lead the Administration’s response to the coronavirus, and I agree with him that putting a vice president who was once a governor in charge of an effort that depends on federal, state and local cooperation makes sense as a way to continue to keep Americans safe.
As chairman of the Senate health committee, I will continue to work to make sure that the Administration is implementing the preparedness and response framework for emerging public health threats that Congress has already provided.
Next Tuesday, my committee is holding a hearing to find out more about what the Administration is doing to prevent spread of the coronavirus and what steps have been taken to coordinate the federal response.
Trump Administration committed to ending surprise medical billing
I also received a commitment from HHS Secretary Azar that passing my legislation to end the practice of medical billing – which affects one in five emergency room patients – is a top priority of the Trump Administration.
Surprise medical billing occurs when a patient receives a bill in the mail for hundreds or thousands of dollars that they didn’t expect because while the hospital the patient went to was in-network, the doctor who treated them was not.
Secretary Azar said that ending surprise billing is a “very high priority for the president” and that we need to get a bipartisan, bicameral solution passed into law. I agree and will continue to work with House committees and Senators to bring a bill to the president’s desk.
Protecting an important path to the middle class
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) released a final rule this week that is good news for the men and women operating our nation’s 733,000 franchise establishments. The ability to own and operate a franchise is one of the best opportunities Americans have to work their way into the middle class, but a decision by the Obama-era NLRB threatened that opportunity.
Under the Obama-era standard, companies can find it much more practical to own all their stores and restaurants and day care centers themselves, rather than encourage more franchisee-owned small businesses.
The final rule returns to the standard that existed for decades which required that a business must actually exercise direct control over employees’ terms and conditions of employment to be considered a “joint employer.” The NLRB’s final rule provides clarity and predictability and helps protect this important path to the middle class for small businessmen and women.
Below are some articles from this week I thought you would enjoy:
Keep in mind that enough small steps in the right direction will still get you where you want to go.