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Updated: 1 hour 25 min ago

Rep. Schrader Praises Outcome for SSgt. McGreevey, Calls for More Protections for Veterans

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 9:00pm

Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) issued the following statement regarding a ruling by the United States Department of Justice requiring settlements for two-dozen veterans, including Marine veteran SSgt. Jacob McGreevey, who had been illegally foreclosed on by a now defunct mortgage lender.

“While I am very pleased with the outcome for SSgt. McGreevey’s case, current law still does not do enough to protect our veterans," said Rep. Schrader. "Our servicemen and women have earned certain basic benefits like knowing that their families and their homes are taken care of while they are overseas. Last year, I introduced the HOMES Act to protect our fighting men and women from exploitation by unscrupulous lenders while they put their lives on the line in service to our country, to prevent future servicemembers from being unfairly placed in the same situation as SSgt. McGreevey. The law does not do enough to protect our servicemembers while they serve their country. I remain committed to passing this legislation to ensure that what happened to SSgt. McGreevey does not happen again.”

Congressman Schrader (OR-5) introduced the bipartisan Halting of Mortgage Exploitation of Servicemembers (HOMES) Act last year to provide greater clarity and uniformity to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA is designed to provide protection for active duty servicemembers, including Reservists and members of the National Guard, from civil obligations while they are deployed. Among these obligations are mortgage payments, leases, taxes and credit card debt. Under the SCRA, mortgage lenders are prohibited from foreclosing on active duty servicemembers. Unfortunately, the law does not include a statute of limitations and, as a result, discretion is left to the courts who simply defer to the closest applicable state law. With the statute of limitations varying state-by-state and no uniform application of the law, this often leaves a gray area with much uncertainty for our servicemembers.  Rep. Schrader’s HOMES Act would establish a national 10-year statute of limitations under the SCRA to protect our veterans and servicemembers.

Bipartisan Schrader Bill to Reauthorize Animal Drug User Fees Signed Into Law

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 9:00pm

Congressman Kurt Schrader’s (OR-05) bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Act (AGDUFA) was signed into law today. ADUFA and AGDUFA continue agreements between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the animal drug industry to pay user fees that help speed the approval of new drugs for farmers, ranchers, families, and veterinarians so they can keep their animals and pets safe and healthy. Rep. Schrader introduced the legislation in April with Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK-02) and the legislation passed unanimously through the House in July and through the Senate in August.

“I am excited to see my bipartisan legislation to reauthorize animal drug user fees signed into law this month after swift but thorough consideration through both the House and Senate. As a legislator I am very attuned to all the innovations that are occurring in the human health sphere, and as a veterinarian I want to ensure that our four-footed friends also have access to the latest and greatest medical innovations. We worked hard to expand conditional approval in this legislation to animal drugs for major uses and major species, an expansion which is so vital to the veterinary profession. Conditional approval is not a free ride for companies, but rather allows us to do the best for our pets and livestock. This law will continue to allow and encourage innovation across the industry, benefiting owners, veterinarians, and, of course, the animals themselves.”

WATCH: Congressman Schrader Speaks on the Importance of ADUFA from the House Floor

ADUFA and AGDUFA give the FDA authority to collect user fees from sponsors for the review of animal drug applications. ADUFA was first authorized in 2003, giving the FDA authority for the first time to collect user fees for the review of animal drugs similar to fee programs for human drugs and medical devices. AGDUFA, authorized in 2008, gave the FDA the same authority but for generic drug applications. Had Rep. Schrader’s bill not passed, ADUFA and AGDUFA would have expired on September 30, 2018.

During markup of the bill in the House Energy and Commerce Committee in May, Rep. Schrader introduced an amendment to expand conditional approval to animal drugs for major uses and major species that meet an unmet medical need, have a particularly difficult study design, and are not antimicrobials. Conditionally approved drugs must demonstrate a reasonable expectation of effectiveness and meet all other FDA approval standards, including safety. These drugs can be on the market on a conditional, year-by-year basis for up to five years while the drug sponsor continues trials to prove a full standard of effectiveness.

Oregon Delegation Calls on Trump Administration to Back Down on Efforts to Restrict Workers’ Rights

Thu, 08/09/2018 - 9:00pm

Members of the Oregon congressional delegation, including United States Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer and Kurt Schrader today called on the Trump administration to drop a proposed rule that would unjustifiably restrict home care workers’ ability to form unions and collectively bargain for higher wages, better working conditions, expanded benefits, and new training opportunities.

The letter, sent to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, comes as the shortened comment period for the proposed rule closes. The policy, if finalized, could harm over 28,000 home care workers in Oregon in addition to the seniors, families and individuals with disabilities that they serve.

“Home care workers provide critical daily support and services for seniors and individuals with disabilities. The services independent home care workers provide are essential to allowing individuals to remain in their home and community while receiving consumer-directed services,” the lawmakers wrote. “We are concerned that the proposed rule would interfere with and compromise the ability of workers to join together to form unions and collectively bargain for higher wages, better working conditions, expanded benefits, and new training opportunities to improve the quality of care they provide to Medicaid beneficiaries.” 

Oregon has one of the most rapidly aging populations in the country. Nearly one in six people in the state is age 65 or older, and the demand for home care services will continue to increase because the number of seniors in the state is projected to increase by 34 percent by 2030.  Despite the importance of this work, home care workers have historically been left out of worker protections and have had to fight to receive and maintain basic rights every step of the way.

The full letter can be found here and below:

The Honorable Seema Verma
Administrator
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Administrator Verma:

On July 10, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule to attempt to prevent independent home care providers who provide services under Medicaid consumer-directed programs from electing to make voluntary deductions from their pay for benefits such as health insurance, skills training, and union membership. We write to express our significant concern regarding this proposed rulemaking. We support the more than 28,000 home care workers in our home state of Oregon and across the country and the right of independent home care workers to have a strong collective voice to improve their working conditions and the quality of care they deliver. 

This proposed rule would repeal a regulatory provision adopted in the 2014 Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) settings final rule.  The 2014 final rule stipulates that states may make deductions from payments to home care workers for benefits customary for employees. The CMS proposed rule appears to be designed to prevent states from making payments to third parties, such as unions, on behalf of certain independent provider home care workers who voluntarily elect to make certain deductions from their pay. CMS has failed to offer sufficient justification for the proposed rule that would remove the 2014 provision.

Home care workers provide critical daily support and services for seniors and individuals with disabilities. The services independent home care workers provide are essential to allowing individuals to remain in their home and community while receiving consumer-directed services. Such services will become even more critical over the coming years with an aging population and increased demand on Medicaid home care services and supports. Oregon has one of the most rapidly aging populations in the country. Nearly one in six people in the state is age 65 or older.  The demand for home care services will continue to increase because the number of seniors in the state is projected to increase by 34 percent by 2030.  Despite the importance of this work, home care workers have historically been left out of worker protections and have had to fight to receive and maintain basic rights every step of the way. Many home care workers across the country are paid poverty-level wages, have limited advanced training opportunities, and do not have access to paid sick time or other basic benefits. One in four home care workers lives below the federal poverty line, and more than half rely on some form of public assistance.  These challenging working conditions also have a disproportionate effect on the more than 90 percent of home care workers who are women, a majority of whom are women of color. 

In Oregon, home care workers and personal support workers gained the right to form a union in 2000.  Through successful organizing and collective bargaining, workers have raised their base pay to $14.65 per hour.  The union worked with the state to provide a new model of health care for home care workers that provides health coverage assistance for medical, dental, vision coverage to eligible workers.  Home care workers have also successfully negotiated for a training committee to improve quality of care, reimbursement for those who attend hourly training, pay increases for home care workers who complete certain training, and enhanced transportation benefits.

Prohibiting voluntary payroll deductions for customary benefits like union dues would place an unnecessary burden on independent home care workers. We are concerned that the proposed rule would interfere with and compromise the ability of workers to join together to form unions and collectively bargain for higher wages, better working conditions, expanded benefits, and new training opportunities to improve the quality of care they provide to Medicaid beneficiaries. Accordingly, we encourage CMS to withdraw the proposed rule and not move forward with the rulemaking.

Schrader Law to Lower Drug Costs Produces Success in the Generics Market

Wed, 08/08/2018 - 9:00pm

The FDA this week announced the first generic drugs to receive a Competitive Generic Therapy (CGT) designation – a classification established under a bipartisan Schrader bill that became law last year – which allows generics with few to no alternatives to come to market faster. The drugs to receive the CGT designation include several strengths of potassium chloride oral solution, used to treat hypokalemia, or low potassium blood levels, in patients who are on diuretics, that currently do not have generic versions available.

“We’ve seen some lifesaving drugs become astronomically expensive in recent years, sometimes overnight and often with zero explanation. Working on solutions to bring down drug costs has been a top priority of mine,” said Rep. Schrader. “I’m very pleased to announce the first success as a result of my bipartisan legislation to lower drug costs that became law last year. We know that having generic versions of medication on the market stimulates competition and keeps the cost of drugs down for everyone. Thanks to the new CGT status, established by my law, folks suffering from low potassium blood levels will now have more treatment options available to them, keeping a check on the market and preventing unaccountable price hikes to these drugs from occurring. This is also a prime example of the direct impact Congress can have when we work together on solutions to the problems our constituents face back at home.”

Congressman Kurt Schrader’s legislation, a version of which he introduced in January 2017, moved through the House and Senate with unanimous support before becoming law in August, 2017. Congressman Schrader began his bipartisan charge to bring down drug costs in the 114th Congress when he first introduced a version of the legislation in response to the dramatic 4,000 percent overnight price hike on the life-saving drug Daraprim. Dozens more competitive generic therapies are currently in the pipeline awaiting FDA action, boding potential for more competition coming to market.

The Schrader law increases competition among new generic drugs competing with off-patent brand drugs where there is no competition by:

  • Requiring greater communication between the FDA and manufacturers for these competitive generic products before and during the application process which guarantees an accelerated eight month review;
  • Creating incentive to come to market by guaranteeing the same six months of exclusivity that the vast majority of first generic drugs currently receive;
  • Closing a loophole and improving program integrity in the Tropical Disease priority review voucher program.

Oregon Congressional Delegation, Governor Celebrate $3M Grant for Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center

Sun, 07/29/2018 - 9:00pm

Today all seven members of Oregon’s Congressional delegation – Reps. Kurt Schrader, Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Greg Walden, along with Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley – joined Governor Kate Brown in announcing that the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC) will receive a $3 million grant from the Economic Development Administration to support a transformative economic development project in Northwest Oregon.

OMIC is a partnership of industry leaders in advanced manufacturing and higher education institutions, including Oregon Institute of Technology, Portland Community College, Oregon State University, and Portland State University. This partnership will create good jobs, foster innovation in manufacturing, and equip workers and students for success in the 21st century by providing work-based learning programs. Bonamici led Oregon’s Congressional delegation in advocating for the grant, which was awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to the Oregon Institute of Technology. The funding will be used to retrofit and equip OMIC’s R&D facility.

“Education programs that foster public-private partnerships are so important to the future of our Oregon economy,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader. “These programs align their curricula with the needs of their communities and industry, helping students gain the skills required to succeed in today’s job market and to support our economy. This grant for the OMIC will further solidify their role in building partnerships between industry leaders and higher education institutions to develop these innovative learning programs.”

“This is great news for Oregon,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “I am thrilled to see that the Economic Development Administration recognizes the potential of the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center. OMIC will help students and workers learn the skills they need to work in today’s economy, where advanced manufacturing is increasingly technical, while also advancing research and development that helps industries compete and thrive. I’ve been proud to advocate for federal funding for this innovative and collaborative project, and I look forward to its continued growth.”

“I am glad the ‘Oregon Way’ approach of working together to find solutions has produced this great news that will help economic development and education in rural Oregon,” said Senator Ron Wyden. “These kinds of partnerships can unlock the huge potential of young Oregonians and serve as a model for the rest of the country.” 

“If we don’t make things in America, we won’t have a middle class in America,” said Senator Jeff Merkley. “I’m proud that Oregon is showing the way forward with partnerships that help our students and businesses alike to prepare for the future and to lead the way in innovation. This grant is huge news for Oregon and a testament to the great work that is happening in our state.” 

“This grant is a boon for Oregon’s next generation of innovators,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio. “We must continue to invest in our growing advanced manufacturing industry, which will provide high skilled, high-paying jobs for Oregon students and workers and help equip young people for success in the 21st century workplace.”

“OMIC’s Research and Development Center will help prepare Oregon for the economy of tomorrow,” said Congressman Earl Blumenauer. “Developing public-private partnerships in advanced manufacturing will help create good jobs and strengthen Oregon’s economy.”

“This investment is a big win for Oregon workers, helping them get the skills they need to land a better job,” Governor Kate Brown said. “We’re looking towards the future to support strong economies throughout the state, and training centers like these will help give our workforce the skills local businesses need to grow and thrive.”

All seven members of Oregon’s delegation made a joint request for the funding to Sec. Wilbur Ross in January.