Believe it or not the House of Representatives has quite a few capable and very qualified men and women...well women, anyway, who could and should and would make a
TOP TEN ABUSES OF THE ``SELECT INVESTIGATIVE PANEL'' REPUBLICANS -- (House of Representatives - May 25, 2016)
Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, yesterday 181 Democrats wrote to Speaker Ryan to ask the Republican Select Panel to Attack Women's Health--that is what we call it--to be shut down.
From the outset, this investigation has been a political weapon to punish women, doctors, and scientific researchers, not an objective, fair-minded, or fact-based search for the truth.
Here are the top 10 reasons to shut down this partisan panel immediately:
One: The select panel is a waste of taxpayer money.
Republicans are wasting taxpayer dollars in their chasing of inflammatory allegations of anti-abortion extremists.
Three Republican-led House committees, 12 States, and one grand jury have already investigated charges that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue for a profit. None found any evidence of wrongdoing.
Two: The select panel is an attack on women's rights.
Republicans are using the panel as part of their campaign to deny women access to legal reproductive health services, including abortions--the panel comes at a time when Republicans have voted repeatedly to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides health services to over 3 million American women and men each year--to eliminate family planning services, and to restrict access to abortion.
Three: The select panel is harming scientific research.
Republicans are using the panel to intimidate scientists into stopping legal fetal tissue research on treatment for cures for diseases and conditions that afflict millions of Americans, including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and spinal cord injuries. Some medical research outfits have already been canceled.
Four: The select panel is just partisan politics.
Republicans are conducting an unfair, one-sided, and partisan campaign. They refuse to put indicted video maker David Daleiden under oath, who made those highly edited tapes against Planned Parenthood, while issuing subpoenas and demanding sworn testimony from law-abiding researchers and doctors.
Republicans have suppressed facts that contradict their preferred partisan narratives. For example, they refused to hear directly from tissue procurement companies while they publicly accused them of misconduct based on misleading and inaccurate staff-created exhibits that lacked any sourcing or foundational information.
Five: The select panel is a McCarthy-like witch hunt:
Mirroring the bullying behavior of Senator Joe McCarthy, Republicans are demanding that universities and clinics name names of their researchers, graduate students, lab technicians, clinic personnel, and doctors. When Democrat Jerry Nadler asked Chair BLACKBURN to explain why she needs to amass this database of names, she responded: No, sir. I am not going to do that.
Six: The select panel threatens innocent lives.
Republicans are putting researchers and doctors at risk by publicly naming them as targets of their investigation and creating a database of names.
On May 11, Republicans issued a press release that publicly named a physician who had already been the target and the subject of violence by anti-abortion extremists. That physician was never contacted to voluntarily provide information before he received a subpoena.
Seven: The select panel is dangerous.
Republicans are refusing to protect confidentiality despite known risks and tragedies, such as the murders of three people at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood women's health clinic. That murderer echoed the words of our Republican chairman of the select committee.
The killer used words like ``no more baby body parts.'' Even after they promised to protect confidentiality, the committee said: We will not assure that witnesses' names or any of the other names used in the deposition will remain private.
Eight: The select panel is an abuse of power.
Republicans are abusing congressional subpoena power. The overwhelming majority of their unilateral subpoenas--30 of 36--have been sent without any effort to obtain voluntary compliance.
We should provide physicians, medical researchers, and others with an opportunity for them to provide information voluntarily. A subpoena should not be the first contact they have with Congress.
Nine: The select panel excludes Democrats.
Republicans have consistently refused to work with Democratic panel members. They have refused to discuss or to even give Democrats copies of their unilateral subpoenas until after they have been served, which is in violation of the House.
Ten: The select panel bullies witnesses they don't like.
It is time, Mr. Speaker, to end this panel right now.
WHY WE NEED TO LOWER PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES -- (Extensions of Remarks - May 25, 2016)
[Page: E795] GPO's PDF ---
- Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, I would like to submit the
following article, written by Heather Block. I encourage all of my
colleagues to read this short and powerful piece, which provides us with
yet another personal testimony highlighting the need to lower the price
of prescription drugs and support the Medicare Part B Demonstration
Project proposed by CMS. In this article, Ms. Block describes ``what it
is like to have stage 4 cancer, and to fear bankruptcy as much as cancer
due to our health
system and the lack of drug pricing regulation''. Sadly, her story is
not unique. Across this country, millions of people who are already
facing devastating health issues suddenly find themselves in dire
financial straits due to the cost of prescription drugs. Let us not
forsake the wellbeing of the many for the financial gain of the very
few. I ask you to join me in taking the side of people like Heather by
supporting CMS's proposal.HEATHER BLOCK may 23, 2016
I testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's
Subcommittee on Health last week. It was a big deal for me. As I told my
brother, I want my niece to know that we can speak to the powers that
be--even individuals like me, without any group or organization to back
me up. I want her to know that our voices can still be heard in America.
I testified about what it is like to have stage 4 cancer, and to fear bankruptcy as much as cancer due to our health system and the lack of drug pricing regulation. I also said that I support a Medicare proposal to evaluate ways to lower drug costs. It would reduce financial incentives that could encourage doctors to use more expensive drugs, while trying several different approaches that would improve quality of care and potentially cut drug costs for taxpayers and patients.
I felt like most of the Representatives had already made up their minds. Probably not due to the actual proposal, but to the pressures placed by groups that would lose money if the so-called Medicare Part B Demo is launched. I joked before I testified that I might ask, ``Could anyone that doesn't receive any money from the pharmaceutical industry, raise their hands,'' and that I would probably be the only one with a hand raised in the room.
Turns out my joke wasn't that far off-base. Imagine my surprise when Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) pointed out that two of the five witnesses had several pages of identical testimony--identical down to the highlights. What that says to me is that the pharmaceutical industry lobbyists are so confident of their power that they can be sloppy.
I do not have that luxury. I have limited time; no one knows how much with stage 4 cancer and certainly limited means. My friends jokingly call me ``Dona Quixote.'' But I feel urgency around the issue, and I do appreciate Representative Peter Welch for pointing out this urgency.
I know I cannot be alone. Other patients are slowly being bled dry by the cost of our life saving drugs
While the Medicare Part B Demo will not solve the problem of high prescription drug spending, it's at least a thoughtful step in the right direction. I hope to keep pushing and reminding everyone of the urgency of this issue. Americans recognize that the cost of drugs is not sustainable but no one knows what to do. And so far, no one knows how to overcome the money and power being mobilized by the drug companies to keep their profits high, even as patients go bankrupt
While the Medicare Part B demo may not be perfect, it's at least a step in the right direction when everyone else seems to be more interested in standing still.
Heather Block served as a witness for the Energy and Commerce's Health committee hearing on the proposed Medicare Part B Payment Demonstration Project on May 17, 2016.