Marshall makes Garden City stop

Congressman discusses trade agreements, health care at hospital

Brianna Childers
Congressman Roger Marshall talks about the various trade agreements Thursday morning  during a town hall meeting in a St. Catherine Hospital classroom.

When U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall spoke to constituents Thursday morning in Garden City, he told them he brought "good tidings and joy for once."

Marshall shared his thoughts and concerns with hospital leaders, city officials and community members at 7:30 a.m. at St. Catherine's Hospital.

He touched on several subjects, those of which included the recent passing of the USMCA trade agreement, Phase 1 of the U.S.-China trade deal and health care.

Marshall, who represents District 1 in Kansas, praised the passing of the USMCA and U.S.-China agreement, saying the past week was "the most consequential week in agriculture history in maybe the last century."

"Kansas agriculture never seems to get its due," Marshall said. "As agriculture goes, so goes Kansas. When our small, rural communities are struggling, it's usually related to either oil prices, or cattle prices or wheat prices. It's just that simple."

Marshall said Phase 1 of the China agreement is important to Kansas, especially when it comes to milo, corn and grain.

Speaking specifically about how the USMCA trade agreement affects Garden City residents, Marshall reflected on working with ambassadors to  help break barriers on dairy put up by Canada.

A key element of the trade agreement, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative's website, is that the U.S. now has the opportunity to sell dairy products in Canada.

With the USMCA trade agreement already passed the House and Senate, Marshall said he thinks President Donald Trump should sign it this week or next.

"I think it will take three months for somebody in Garden City to see it all come online," Marshall said.

When asked how long the agreement will last, Marshall said potentially in perpetuity.

"The last one lasted 25 years," Marshall said. "There are some pieces of it though that give us an opportunity to review it every so many years. There are some ways to get out of it. That's why I think it's important for generations to come, to know that those markets will be there."

Marshall said when he sat down with Trump last year to discuss health care and replacing the Affordable Care Act, one key issue was taking care of pre-exisiting conditions.

"My own wife got Crohn's disease when we were pregnant with our second child," Marshall said. "She will have Crohn's disease her whole life. Of course I want to take care of people with pre-exisiting conditions."

Empowering patients is an important step, Marshall said.

"We need to let patients be consumers again, and give them more choices and encourage innovation," Marshall said. "One of the first steps is transparency, and the President has issued rules that he wants hospitals, doctors and insurance companies to be more transparent."

Marshall said he has tried to work on funding rural hospitals, and was successful when he got the wage index increased.

For a hospital like Garden City's, Marshall said reimbursement was way down due to the wage index.

"So Medicare might pay us for a joint replacement here in Garden City — I'm going to make up a number — $15,000," said Marshall, who is a licensed OB/GYN. "You get that same joint done in Miami or New York City, they are going to pay them $30,000 or $40,000. I think it's going to mean $250,000 to this hospital of increased Medicare reimbursement this coming year."

Marshall also touched on the impeachment trial of Trump when asked about his thoughts.

The impeachment trial kicked off earlier this week with the Democrats giving their opening argument.

"Everywhere I go, Kansans tell me 'We are sick and tired of the impeachment,' " Marshall said. "Is there anything else that can be said that's not been said? I listened to it for about 10 minutes and I didn't hear anything new. I read about 20 minutes worth, I didn't see anything new. Anyway, I think end of next week sometime they will have the first vote on whether to call witnesses or not, and I think that's the end of it. I just don't see the Senate calling more witnesses."

While Marshall thinks the trial will come to a close next week, he said he believes Democrats will continue hammering away until the November election.

"(The impeachment) has actually helped the President's numbers," Marshall said. "I've never seen Republicans so emboldened and fired up to protect this President. That translates to people voting. That's where I think the press isn't making the connection."