WASHINGTON — As Congress tries to shift back into work mode, we wrap up a busy week, from President Donald Trump’s acquittal in the Senate to the Iowa Caucus to the controversial State of the Union address.
Every year, California congressmen are able to bring a chosen guest from their district to the State of the Union. There Spectrum News 1 heard many stories of triumph and sorrow over an array of key issues, like immigration, environment, and affordability.
But many times, guests shared concerns over health care. Congressman Ted Lieu of Los Angeles brought a two-time Olympic gold medalist, Gary Hall Jr., to Washington, as his chosen guest. Lieu shared a similarity with his guest; that they both live with a pre-existing condition.
At one time, Hall Jr. was the fastest swimmer in the world but struggled to afford insulin for his type-1 diabetes. He says it was a rough time because he was at the top of his career but said he had trouble affording the drugs he needed during his Olympic days.
“I was told by two doctors that I couldn’t compete in the Olympics,” said Hall Jr. “I went on to win a gold medal in those Olympic games. I was healthy enough to be an Olympic champion but not healthy enough to purchase health insurance. And we have made a lot of progress since then but we need to continue to fight the good fight on behalf of patients.”
There are upwards of 250 bills passed in the House that sit in the Senate including HR3, which is meant to lower the costs of prescription drugs. There is also a Senate version of the bill, and an agreement between parties about the issue yet no bills have passed.
“We simply ask Mitch McConnell to have a vote on those bills,” said Lieu. “If he doesn’t like them, he can vote them down, if he likes them he can pass them onto the president but at least he should do his job and allow those bills to come up for a vote.”
And this week, the Supreme Court listed a case that looks to strike down the Affordable Care Act for discussion on February 21. As you may know, the ACA protects patients with pre-existing conditions.
Lieu said he just hopes the President will drop the lawsuit, which is unlikely. President Trump said the ACA is unconstitutional and shouldn’t exist and that he wants to replace that plan.
Hall Jr. said he will always fight for the patients that need insurance for preexisting conditions. Overall, all the guests shared one theme… hope.