I like to write about issues to inform people who can then write letters to try to influence legislator votes.
However, in an election year it is important to look at how those who represent us voted on those issues to decide if a change is needed or not. Rodney Davis represents Springfield in the U.S. House on the east side of Springfield and Darin LaHood on the west side.
Congressional votes that impact people’s health have a disproportionate impact on my vote as a physician. Let’s take a look at the voting records of representatives Davis and LaHood, starting with some votes that impact the environment with public health consequences.
Reps. Davis and LaHood voted for an amendment to HR 3354 that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing methane pollution standards. Even if you don’t believe methane contributes to global warming, implementing these standards would have curbed toxic air pollutants that contribute to smog and jeopardize those with lung disease. On the same bill, Reps. Davis and LaHood voted against an amendment that would remove delays in implementing stronger ozone standards, again putting those with respiratory disease at greater risk. Finally, Reps. Davis and LaHood voted for HR 806, the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017, which delayed EPA implementation of ozone standards and allows considerations other than health to be taken into account in the standard-setting process.
If you or a loved one has lung illness, these votes should be remembered.
Reps. Davis and LaHood also voted for HR 953, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017. It eliminated Clean Water Act Safeguards to protect communities from toxic pesticides when they are discharged directly into bodies of water. Proponents held this was necessary to help control the spread of the Zika and West Nile virus, but opponents held that this was unnecessary and was simply a vehicle to reduce the liability of the pesticide industry from harm caused by pesticides that enter drinking water.
In a similar vein, Reps. Davis and LaHood voted for HR 998, the Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome (SCRUB) Act. This legislation created a regulatory review commission to do cost-benefit analysis of environmental regulations in such a way that the public health benefits are minimized and the costs to industry maximized.
Apparently our representatives have forgotten that before we had what some call “job-killing” environmental regulations, we had a people-killing lack of environmental regulations.
The League of Conservation Voters rated Rep. Davis as making environmentally friendly votes only 9 percent of the time with Rep. LaHood having a perfect 0 percent record.
With regards to health care insurance, both Davis and LaHood voted to end the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and seriously weakened the ACA by ending mandatory insurance participation.
From a health care perspective, it is clear we need change in our representation.
Betsy Dirksen Londrigan is running for Davis’ seat and has made the focus of her campaign working towards universal health care coverage by stabilizing the ACA, protecting essential health benefits and assuring coverage for those with preexisting conditions. Similarly, she has held that clean air and water are basic human rights and received endorsements from organizations like the Sierra Club.
Junius Rodriguez is campaigning for the seat held by LaHood and has pushed for Congress to embrace data-driven environmental policies that fairly assesses the benefits of regulation and the shared burden of those regulations. Rodriguez has advocated allowing individuals aged 55 be allowed to buy into Medicare if private insurance is unaffordable. He supports full funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which makes health insurance available to youth whose families make too much income to qualify for Medicaid but who can’t afford private insurance.
From this health care advocate’s standpoint, Londrigan and Rodriguez are the clear choices this year.
Dr. Soltys of Springfield is a retired physician who still teaches on a volunteer basis at SIU School of Medicine.