“We’re trying to modernize and personalize medicine and create a healthier America.”

Wenstrup Discusses His Efforts to Improve Health Care for Americans

WASHINGTON, DC – The Ripon Society held a dinner discussion on Tuesday evening with a leader on Capitol Hill working to craft innovative, patient-focused health care policy solutions.

That leader is U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (OH-2), who serves as the co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus and is a member of House Republican Healthy Future Task Force. He opened his remarks by outlining the mission of the Task Force.

“We’re going to try and get ready and be prepared on day one when we — hopefully — take back the House next Congress,” Rep. Wenstrup stated. “I want to give Chairman Nunes credit on the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, because he’s pulled together a great group of members for this Task Force. They are not all health care providers, but it gives us a chance, and gives me particularly a chance to lead on some critical topics that I’m very passionate about. We’re trying to modernize and personalize medicine and create a healthier America.”

“We really want to take the concept of Operation Warp Speed and develop other policies that will lower costs, but also bring about innovations and cures. And rather than it just being a break it/fix it system, we can be out there ahead of things. We are asking, ‘How do we incentivize doctors and patients to prioritize their health rather than just call when they’re sick?’ That is, I think, a key change that we need to make in America. And I think we’ll be a better nation for it.”

Rep. Wenstrup earned his medical degree as a podiatric physician and after completing his surgical residency, established a private practice in Cincinnati, where he has treated patients for the last 26 years. Currently a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, he served a tour in Iraq as a combat surgeon from 2005-2006. In the past, Rep. Wenstrup says that doctors and physicians of both parties have come together to tackle pressing issues for patients in America.

“I’ve worked on bills in the past with Dr. Raul Ruiz (D-CA-36). We work well together, not only within the GOP Doctors Caucus, but with the three physicians on the Democrat side as well to come up with a solution for surprise billing. As passed, the bill takes that anxiety away from patients — especially when they’re sick. And I can tell you, it’s much tougher to treat someone who’s very anxious, especially if they’re anxious over ‘How am I ever going to pay this?’” 

“That’s the mindset we’re having: What can we do more for patients? At the same time, how do we develop a system where we can reduce costs and be a little bit smarter about moving forward without harming innovation, because medicine is changing fast.”

After his opening remarks, the Ohio lawmaker was asked to elaborate on the efforts of the Healthy Future Task Force and whether it will produce a legislative agenda for when the Republicans take back the majority in the House.

“On day one, our first bill is not going to be a federal takeover of state elections, like we saw when the Democrats took the majority. We want to be prepared. So with health care, in particular, everyone can identify the problems, but can they identify the solutions? And so that’s what we’re putting together, and we want to have bills ready to go, and we want to be running on those bills come next year. That’s the process that we’re undertaking now. 

“We’re bringing in stakeholders and having meetings amongst ourselves, talking about the barriers to innovation as well as costs. We want to address shortcomings that we have in our system.”

Rep. Wenstrup was also asked to give his thoughts on how Republicans can improve their messaging on health care and gain the confidence of voters on the issue.

“Democrats certainly own the talking points, but I wouldn’t say they own the issue necessarily with success,” Rep. Wenstrup explained. “They certainly own the talking points because almost anything we do is met with, ‘You want people to die.’ That’s going to be their answer. And that’s exactly what they keep saying. But I might want to balance the ‘Republicans want you to die’ with ‘Democrats don’t want you to live.’ They don’t want you to live your life. They want to live it for you.”

According to Rep. Wenstrup, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the federal government over involving itself with individuals’ health care. This, he says, has become an issue for Americans across the country.

“We want to be educated, not indoctrinated. You’re just telling me I have to do this, but no one is sitting down telling me why. And that’s why we have said to ‘talk to your doctor.’ And ‘this is between you and your doctor.’ If you’re getting your medical advice from Facebook or President Trump or President Biden, you’re in the wrong place. You should be talking to your doctor.”

“We, as Republicans, want to take care of you. We want to be there to work with you. This is not a one-sided thing. Your health care is between you and your doctor. And we want to keep it that way. We don’t want the insurance company to be telling you what your care should be, and I think that’s important. As for what those exact words should be, it should take these good ideas and put them into something somebody can understand right away.” 

“When I talk to another doctor, I speak in medical terms. When I talk to patients, I find a way to relate to them without using the medical terms that they understand. And so these are some of the challenges we take, and I’m glad that we have physicians and caregivers in Congress involved with this.”

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.