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July 18, 2023

Schweikert must keep fighting to stop government bureaucracy, red tape from hurting veterans

The health and wellbeing of veterans who have served our nation is the ultimate responsibility of our government. However, many veterans here in Arizona know all too well that the government often fails to deliver on that responsibility and the bloated bureaucracy of government can put up barriers that make it harder for them to get the healthcare they deserve.

Here in Arizona, the federal government has a long track record of failing to provide the care that our veterans need. Nine years ago, for example, a whistleblower found that officials at the Phoenix VA hospital had been keeping a secret list to hide a backlog of patients waiting for care, some for as long as nine months, in an effort to hide the hospital’s failure to give veterans in Arizona life-saving care. Today, despite a recent campaign to fix its image, it’s still unclear if the Phoenix VA has fixed those problems.

Unfortunately, the Phoenix VA scandal isn’t the first – or the last – time that the government has failed to prioritize the health of Arizona veterans.

Today, that threat is coming from the International Trade Commission (ITC), a government agency in Washington. In January, the ITC made a decision in a lawsuit against Apple filed by Masimo, a medical technology company, that could result in a ban on Apple Watches, and that’s a major issue for veterans here in Arizona who rely on the watches for quick and affordable access to healthcare.

Today, Apple provides free watches to veterans in need so they can use apps to share information with their doctors, schedule appointments, fill prescriptions, and cut down on waiting times at hospitals. The watch also provides veterans with access to at-home treatments for serious health conditions with apps like NightWare, an FDA approved software designed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a leading cause of suicide for veterans.

The ITC’s decision is particularly concerning given that many of Masimo’s claims were proven false in court, and it’s jarring that a government agency that is supposed to protect Americans and is legally required to protect public interest would threaten critical technology that veterans rely on. Ultimately, it’s just another example of the government failing to deliver for the people who need and deserve it the most.

The good news is that we have elected leaders here in Arizona who are trying to fix that. Congressman David Schweikert has, for years, fought to make the government work for the people it’s supposed to help, and he’s used his position as the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives, which has jurisdiction over the ITC, to try to hold the Commission accountable by sponsoring legislation, like the Advancing America’s Interests Act, which would take important first steps to fix the ITC.

This year, the bill has been reintroduced, and Congressman Schweikert is still leading the charge to reform the ITC, and that means he can take steps to make the bill stronger to make sure the agency can’t threaten veterans here in Arizona ever again. Now more than ever, we need Congressman Schweikert to keep fighting for our veterans.

Steve Kaiser is a Republican former state senator.

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