“What are the regulations that are making you crazy?”

Roskam-Led Health Panel Takes Aim at the Amount of Paperwork Doctors are Required to Complete

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (IL-6) appeared before a breakfast meeting of The Ripon Society yesterday morning, delivering remarks in which he discussed his new role as Chairman of the Ways & Means Health Subcommittee, and laid out a “two-track approach” the panel intends to pursue for the remainder of this year.

“We need to be thinking more aspirationally about the health debate,” the Illinois lawmaker stated. “So what we did was come up with two goals. One is regulatory relief, and the other is trying to deal with opioids. What we’re trying to do is to pose a different question. Because if you ask any member of Congress what their view is of the Affordable Care Act, it goes to shirts and skins immediately. I mean, you’re at Sharks and Jets.

“You can hardly talk to one another, and it’s just not helpful. It’s not productive. So what we’re trying to do is to pose a different question on a bipartisan basis at Ways and Means. Let’s all – on both sides of the aisle – go to health care providers and ask them, ‘What are the regulations that are making you crazy? What are the regulations that add no value to any patient and no value to the bottom line?’

“The more time I spend learning about this issue, the more I’m realizing that some of these things are just discouraging from a health care provider’s point of view. It’s busy work. It’s nonsense. It’s fruitless.”

Roskam was elected to the House in 2006 and took the reins of the Health Subcommittee after the retirement of U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi (OH-12) earlier this year. He previously served as Chair of the Ways & Means Tax Subcommittee, and helmed the Subcommittee on Oversight prior to that. In both of these positions, he developed a reputation as a common sense conservative who does his homework and fights for the people he represents.

These qualities served him well in recent years as he battled the IRS to make the agency more accountable and responsive to the American taxpayer. And these same qualities are also likely to serve him well as the panel moves forward down the other “track” of its two-track approach – dealing with the opioid epidemic.

“It is merciless, it is aggressive, and there are no clean hands in this,” Roskam declared, referring to the epidemic. “There are no clean hands. If you look back, there are government policies that were absolutely driving this. When the federal government was evaluating health care providers on how they treat pain, guess what? They were going to make pain go away. Pharma has got a lot to answer for, obviously. Health care providers have a lot to answer for.”

At the same time, Roskam added, it is critical that Congress look forward, not backward, on the issue, and be realistic about the solutions that can be found. “It’s worth taking a glance at the past,” he stated, “but let’s not spend all our time there.”

“I think we’ve got to walk away from the idea that we’re going to pass the ‘Opioid Relief Act of 2018’ and then, as a result, everything’s going to be great. That is not the way this is going to happen. What’s going to happen is we’re going to do good work and other committees of jurisdiction are going to do good work, but this is all cumulative.”

“We’re going to learn more things as we go along, but I’ll make a prediction. I think we’re going to be able to look back and say our country was in a crisis and in 10 years we are going to be much better off. I really think that’s the general direction we’re going because this is a situation where the more people know, the more intentional they can be about avoidance.”

Following his remarks, Roskam took a number of questions, including one related to the tariffs that the President has placed on steel and aluminum imports.

“I’m very concerned about the direction that the Administration is going on trade,” he said. “I think that it’s a mercantilist world view, and it’s not productive for Chicagoland. I represent a trade-oriented constituency. We make things. We bend metal. We sell this all over the world — not just on the manufacturing side, but on the production side. A lot of the transportation sector runs through Chicagoland, as well.”

“I hope cooler heads prevail. I’m very concerned about this. It’s mercantilism. We are not mercantilists. We are free traders. Now look — I’m willing to acknowledge that these agreements need to be revisited, and they need to be updated. But my sense of priorities would be focused first on what’s happening with the Chinese in particular, and let’s get a modernized, updated NAFTA. It’s not a foregone conclusion that that can’t happen, but it becomes more difficult in this environment. So, I would have charted a very different path.”

As a follow-up, Roskam was also asked what Congress can do in response to the tariffs, and any other actions that can be taken in that regard.

“The remedies are fairly tepid, actually,” he stated, referring to congressional authority over the issue. “You can change the underlying statute that requires the President to sign it, but the odds of that happening are low.”

“I think the people who are going to be ultimately the most persuasive on this is American agriculture. You talk to the Ag folks and they get ashen faced at the idea of this. This notion — that a huge part of the President’s constituency now find themselves locked out of markets and they’re inability to sell into these places — it doesn’t end well.”

Roskam concluded by recalling a meeting the Ways & Means Committee had with the Canadian Prime Minister, and why it is so important for those who are opposed to the tariffs to remember not only the benefits of trade, but that they have a story to tell.

“Prime Minister Trudeau came in to see the Ways and Means Committee in the fall,” he recounted. “It’s an unusual thing for a head of state to come and talk to a congressional committee, obviously, but he knew the audience. The presentation that he made was interesting. His basic argument was, we know we’ve got to update NAFTA … but you sell a lot of things in my country. And we do. If you’re from Chicagoland, you’re selling a lot of things up in Canada. And we’ve got to make sure that that part of the story gets told.”

To view Roskam’s remarks before The Ripon Society breakfast discussion yesterday morning, please click on the link below:

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.