Minute with McCaskill: Real results in the middle

By:  Claire McCaskill
The Maryvale Forum

Watching the news, you’d think Washington is in one big, perpetual standoff—Republicans on one side, Democrats on the other, and a whole bunch of nothing getting done. While the cameras don’t like pointing the lens towards the middle, that’s where I’ve been day in and day out, working hard throughout my time in D.C., solving tough problems and making sure Missourians are heard. 

I’ve witnessed the Washington dysfunction you always hear about in the news firsthand, but I’ve never succumbed to the chaos. I’ve been more focused on the harder job of reaching across the aisle, making compromises, and working with my colleagues to actually get things done on behalf of Missourians. Instead of focusing on what divides us, I find issues big and small that Republicans and Democrats are willing to work on together—and we’ve gotten results.

One of the areas I’m proud to have found common ground and achieved real change is addressing issues that plague our healthcare system. When Republican Senator Susan Collins and I learned that pharmacy “gag clauses” were prohibiting pharmacists from telling customers that they could pay less for their prescription if they pay out of pocket, we teamed up and got to work. And we passed legislation to finally end this egregious, expensive practice and help save Missourians money on their prescriptions.

That’s the same approach I’ve taken in addressing serious issues in the air ambulance industry. After a life-threatening accident, Missouri families who need an air ambulance rescue can be stuck with tens of thousands of dollars in bills—and that’s after their insurance has paid the claim. To put an end to this unfair practice, I teamed up with a Republican colleague to demand answers from the federal government, put pressure on insurers and air ambulance providers, introduced legislation with a companion Republican proposal in the House of Representatives, and worked with my colleagues to make sure we moved the needle to bring more oversight and accountability to an industry that has seemed to operate without either.

By focusing on the issues, being willing to listen, negotiate, and work together, we’ve brought bipartisan reforms to the air ambulance industry. Oversight, accountability, and critical consumer protections are now law—real results for real issues facing Missourians.

That’s why I’m so hopeful about the work that’s being done on the bipartisan Senate healthcare transparency working group I’m a part of, a team of three Republicans and three Democrats. We recently released draft legislation to bring an end to the practice known as balance billing, which leaves far too many Americans with unaffordable medical bills when their providers are out-of-network.

Fighting unfair practices and making healthcare affordable shouldn’t be partisan issues, and I’ll continue to make sure that’s the case. While the nightly news is sure to keep cameras on the extremes, I’ll be where I’ve always been, smack dab in the middle—where we get real results for Missouri.

 U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is the senior senator from Missouri.