Congressman Adam Kinzinger (center) visited Gibson Area Hospital Monday afternoon. Pictured during the visit are (left to right) GAHHS Board of Directors Treasurer Tracy Epps, GAHHS CEO Rob Schmitt, Congressman Kinzinger, GAHHS Chief Operating Officer and Chief Clinical Officer Robin Rose, GAHHS Board of Directors member and GAHHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Hagan and GAHHS Board of Directors President Jim Hood.
Article Courtesy of Patti Welander/Gibson City Courier
Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon) was in Gibson City Monday, fielding questions ranging from his opinions on the Republican presidential race to changes in health care for veterans, during a visit at Gibson Area Hospital.
After a tour of the hospital’s new orthopedic and maternity units, Kinzinger, a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and its health subcommittee, had a roundtable discussion with hospital administrators and board members.
The conversation immediately turned to the Republican presidential debate, which Kinzinger attended.
“It’s very different in person than to see it on television. There’s a lot more crowd noise when you are there,” Kinzinger said, adding that there are many things the television audience picks up on, such as facial expressions, that can’t be seen from the crowd. “It was a neat experience.”
More important than the presidential race, Kinzinger said, are the issues awaiting Congress when they return in September.
“We have a whole bunch of stuff that we have to do,” he said noting the budget is the main issue, with the government running out of spending authority Sept. 30.
Kinzinger said he favors a continuing resolution to alleviate sequestration and hopes a “real deal” can be passed after that. “We will see how that happens. I can’t really predict that whole thing,” he said.
In 2016, the congressman said much of the legislators' attention will be diverted to the presidential race. “No matter who wins the presidency, we have to bring both sides together and get big things done, because we can’t continue on this partisan route,” he said.
Despite that “partisan route” Kinzinger told the group the last year in Congress has been the most productive since 1990 in terms of the number of bills passed and signed. A number of those had to do with health care.
One of the most important for hospitals and doctors was the change in the way Medicare computes fee schedules for physician services.
Kinzinger noted the 21st Century Cures Act, which reforms the Food and Drug Administration and increases spending for health research, is also an important piece of legislation passed by the House this year. "These are the kinds of things that can have real impact,” he said.
“If we can find a way to cure Alzheimer’s, the savings to the federal government would be incredible,” Kinzinger said. “Federal investment in research is extremely important.“
The reforms to the Food and Drug Administration aim to help get medicines through to license and patent sooner, Kinzinger added. “Europe sadly is beating us on a lot of this stuff.”
Dr. David Hagan, a family physician who practices in Gibson City and who serves as the hospital's medical director, said that Veterans Affairs reform legislation passed last year is helping some veterans see doctors locally. Previously, they were required to go to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Danville.
“The paperwork isn’t ideal yet, but at least it is happening,” Hagan said.
Kinzinger told the group that while the number of veterans is shrinking, today’s veterans have more “intense needs.”
“Ultimately, I would like to get to the point where any veteran can choose who they want to provide their health care,” Kinzinger said. “It’s going to take quite a while to get there.”
GAHHS CEO Rob Schmitt said after the visit that he appreciated Kinzinger taking time to tour the facility and answer questions.
“Congressman Kinzinger is a strong supporter of rural health care,” Schmitt said. “GAHHS appreciates his support of rural health care in Illinois and all rural America.”
Kinzinger said he was grateful for the opportunity to tour GAHHS.
"It was great to meet with Gibson Area Hospital and Health Services CEO Rob Schmitt, who was recently recognized as one of the best rural hospital CEOs in the nation," Kinzinger said. "Gibson Area Hospital and Health Services provides a tremendous number of jobs to the region and a high level of patient care, and we are grateful to their talented team for providing high quality care to our community."