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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 25, 2018

Grassley thanks MD Orthopaedics in Wayland for their service

In a Q&A with the staff, he discussed gun control, mental health
Feb 23, 2018
Photo by: Grace King Senator Chuck Grassley toured the warehouse of MD Orthopaedics in Wayland before sitting down with employees for a Q&A on Thursday, Feb. 22.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


WAYLAND — Senator Chuck Grassley met with the staff of MD Orthopaedics in Wayland yesterday as he toured Southeast Iowa, saying that in order to properly represent people, he has to know what’s on their minds.

This isn’t the first time Grassley has visited the facility, having met with the employees about eight years ago. Since then, however, the small company has grown to 29 full-time employees and two part-time employees.

As MD Orthopaedics Operations Manager Andy Smith showed Grassley around the warehouse on Thursday, Feb. 22, he explained how 50 percent of their sales are international, sending shoes, which are specially designed as non-surgical clubfoot treatments, to 129 countries.

Sitting down for a time of questions and answers with the rest of the MD Orthopaedic employees, Grassley thanked them for the work they do.

“I’ve never known a child with a club foot, but you see pictures,” Grassley said. “Living like that, you can’t imagine that. You probably don’t think of yourselves as humanitarians, but you are.”

During the Q&A session, the most pressing question Grassley received was about gun control. Although he said the most recent school shooting in Florida Feb. 14, isn’t why the Senate began discussion on gun control, he said it’s an opportunity to deal with the issue, which hasn’t been dealt with since 2013.

Grassley said that the shooting in Las Vegas in October and the shooting in a Baptist church in Texas in November were also two events that spurred conversation.

Grassley said that he believes the Senate will vote to do away with “bump stocks,” an attachment that enables a semi-automatic rifle to fire faster. He also believes the Fix NICS Act has a good chance of passing. This bill aims to increase state compliance with and improve the accuracy of existing background checks for firearm purchases. This law would ensure that federal and state employees comply with NICS, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, in reporting criminal history records.

The third law Grassley was hopeful about regarding gun control is the “Red Flag Law,” which is in three or four states, but has not reached the federal level. This law would enable guns to temporarily be taken away from people who legally own them if they show signs of becoming a danger to themselves or others. Anyone could report these signs to law enforcement who would have the authority to temporarily take away the weapon, Grassley said.

Grassley also touched on the mental illness aspect of mass killers, saying that it’s a common theme in the most recent shootings.

“A lot of people are afraid to talk about mental illness,” Grassley said. “You’ve got a sensitivity there that I’m not sure we’ve figured out how to deal with.”

Grassley said that regarding mental health services, there is a special problem in Iowa. He said that for 150 years, the counties in Iowa funded mental health before it was moved to the state five years ago. He also said there are still growing pains from the privatization of Medicaid.

“I think we’ve got some problems other states might not have, but overall the problem for the entire country is a shortage in mental health professionals,” Grassley said.

With a lag in questioning, Grassley joked that it would be easy for him to come to the conclusion that the staff at MD Orthopaedics would prefer to not be there. Getting a chuckle in response, someone else piped up with a question.

Smith asked if Grassley foresees much change in health care in the future.

Grassley said he is embarrassed the Senate came up one vote short on repealing Obamacare last year. He said he’s running into more people who were promised they could keep their doctor and then weren’t able to under Obamacare, or whose premiums went up.

Grassley added that the short-term policy of three months under Obamacare “was not practical,” and they are going to change that to a year of short term.

Other changes he hopes to see is selling health insurance across state lines to make it more competitive and overall giving people more choice.

“We’re trying to move away from the one-size-fits-all policy made in Washington,” Grassley said. “I feel, and a lot of my colleagues feel, that the promises of Obamacare weren’t carried out.

“Let people buy what they want and let companies sell what people want,” he said.

In regard to concerns about tax cuts when the U.S. continues to go into debt, Grassley said that cutting taxes brings in more revenue because it creates economic activity.

“If it sounds like you can’t cut taxes and bring in more revenue, I would point to the history of the Kennedy tax cuts of the 1960s, the Reagan tax cuts of the 80s and the Clinton tax cuts late in his term,” Grassley said. “I want to give you a historical rational for what we did.

“If I tax you more and I spend your dollar instead of you spending it, when I spend it, it doesn’t do as much turnover in the economy as much as if it’s in your pocket and you spend it,” Grassley explained.

At the conclusion of the Q&A, Grassley again thanked MD Orthopaedics for everything they do, saying that it’s a “miraculous” service.

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