U.S. Rep. David Rouzer met with local officials Monday, addressing topics ranging from health care to a nationwide drug crisis. The gathering at the Sampson County Complex was one of several recently held by Rouzer.
Several county commissioners and town mayors were present at Monday’s meeting, the purpose of which was to receive feedback from leaders on issues affecting North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District. Also, Rouzer provided a quick overview of politics in Washington, D.C. and possibilities in the near future. During the meeting, Rouzer said he felt the first six months of President Donald Trump’s time in office have been very productive, with many rules and regulations appealed.
One of the first issues he discussed was health care and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Many Republican were opposed to the program.
“Health care is very complicated and very personal,” he said. “That makes the politics of it very difficult.”
Rouzer said a challenge of repealing and replacing the health care act is what to do with Medicaid, a federal-state program that helps low-income families or people with long-term medical needs.
“You have a number of Republican governors that expanded Medicaid and you have a number of Republican governors that did not,” Rouzer said. “So there’s a split there.”
To repeal, Rouzer believes it’s going to take Trump bringing Republican governors together to reach a compromise on the Medicaid matter.
“When that happens, I think it will be much easier for the Senate to produce a product,” he said.
He thinks something will change with health care next year.
Another important matter is infrastructure and developments such as airports, the congressman said. He also mentioned that water and systems are out of date in the region.
With an opioid addiction problem throughout the United States, Rouzer said he’s working to put together a symposium in November or later. He said it is tragic and, while giving statistics, he said the number of deaths can fill Yankee Stadium.
“I talked to mothers who lost their children due to opioid overdose and it’s really an epidemic and one that we need to find a solution to,” Rouzer said.
At the symposium, he would like to offer education to help addicts as well as people attempting to aid addicts. He mentioned that individuals sometimes think they are helping, but are probably making the problem worse.
Rouzer is also supporting reauthorizing the Farm Bill, which supports agriculture practices. He said farming is important in Sampson County and the country as a whole, since everybody likes and needs to eat. Over the last four years, Rouzer said farm income has shrunk by 50 percent.
“This is really a significant issue for a lot of growers,” he said.
He mentioned that, during a meeting in Texas, a lot of farmers almost broke down about losing money from cotton production.
Before thanking Rouzer for his visit, Sampson County Board of Commissioners chairman Clark Wooten and others expressed the need for a new emergency center in the county. He said the county is not in a position to take on more debt.
“I can’t speak for all the commissioners, but we have a significant need,” Wooten said.
During Hurricane Matthew, Wooten mentioned how the current command center almost flooded.
“We’ll do whatever we can to help you on that facility,” Rouzer said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.