Roe says still work left to do in Congress

Published 9:09 am Tuesday, June 19, 2018

While Congress has accomplished a lot of things in the past 18 months, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, M.D., said there is still work left to do, and that is one of the reasons he will be seeking election to another term in the House of Representatives.

Roe visited the Elizabethton Star office Monday morning as part of his official campaign kickoff and shared some of his goals if re-elected, as well as some of the things he has been able to accomplish during his tenure in Congress.

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“When I got there, we were in the minority,” Roe said. “It was very hard to get anything done.”

However, once the Republican party gained a majority in the legislature, Roe said they have been able to accomplish several important goals, notably since President Donald Trump took office.

While much of his focus in the past year-and-a-half has been on improving healthcare and other benefits for veterans, work that he is immensely proud of, one of the bills which Roe said he is most proud of is legislation that allowed EpiPens to be placed into schools for use by the school nurses. For children with severe allergies — for things such as bee stings or food allergies — having quick access to the medicine in the EpiPens can mean the difference between life and death.

Roe said the bill’s impact on children hit close to home as a child in Kingsport was saved because the school nurse had access to an EpiPen and was able to administer it to the child quickly.

“That makes you feel good when you’ve done something to save a child’s life,” Roe said.

Throughout his most recent term of office, Roe said he had received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from the community, even more so since the new presidential administration took over.

A few years ago, according to Roe, a survey of Tennessee’s First Congressional District showed that only 10 percent of people felt the country was moving in the right direction. Recently the poll was retaken, and Roe said it now indicates that 54 percent of people in the District feel the nation is headed in the right direction.

Roe credits that change in opinion to Trump’s presidential agenda along with the work being completed by Congress.

“If you look at the economy since we passed the tax cuts, for the first time in my memory there are more jobs than people seeking jobs,” Roe said. “In Tennessee, we have a historically low unemployment rate.”

“People like the way the country is headed,” he added. “In the First Congressional District, you have a vast majority of people who support the President and his agenda.”

While much has been accomplished, Roe said there is still significant work that Congress needs to do, particularly in the realms of healthcare and mental health services.

One of the things Roe said he hopes to continue to work on in Congress is improving access to healthcare and lowering the costs of insurance.

“Affordability is the key to it,” Roe said. “It has to be affordable, and it’s not.”

Congress is also working to address the opioid crisis, something that has hit the First Congressional District particularly hard, Roe said. During recent meetings with school system officials, Roe said he spoke to them about helping make schools safer from things such as school shooters, but the teachers and administrators spoke of the need for improved mental health services for children. They also said the large number of babies being born addicted to drugs in recent years, a condition known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, are now becoming NAS students and the school systems need help in preparing for their needs.

Roe said if re-elected he would like to focus on those issues as well as many others.

“Hopefully the President’s agenda will continue on,” Roe said. “I certainly would like to continue the progress we are making with this administration.”

“Still, despite these wins, there is much left to do, which is why I am running again,” Roe continued. “We’ve got to unite around an agenda to lower the cost of health care for all Americans; continue to fight the opioid epidemic; secure our borders; and implement the major VA reforms we’ve gotten signed into law, including ensuring veterans have access to the doctors they choose and reviewing the VA’s assets to better align veterans’ care with 21st century medicine.”