Sen. Doug Jones Op-Ed: reflecting on 2019 and setting goals for 2020

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Special to the
Opelika Observer

Even after New Year’s celebrations have died down, the beginning of the year is a time to reflect on the past and set goals for the year to come. I’m proud of all that we’ve been able to accomplish since I was sworn in to the Senate in January of 2018, but there’s still so much work to be done.
I’m proud that in those two years, more than a dozen of my bipartisan bills have been signed in to law. We’ve passed my legislation to finally end the Military Widow’s Tax, to crack down on robocalls, to provide permanent funding for HBCUs, to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, shed light on civil rights cold cases, help farmers recover from bankruptcy, to prevent con artists from stealing tax refunds, to stem the opioid epidemic and to improve rural health – just to name a few.
In an effort to help struggling hospitals across the state stay open, I also teamed up with Senator Richard Shelby and Congresswoman Terri Sewell to change an old Medicare reimbursement rule that had been hurting our hospitals for years. More than a dozen Alabama hospitals have closed since 2011, and a majority of them continue to operate in the red. Fixing this rule will bring millions of dollars back to the state and is a great step to help hospitals gain stable financial footing. However, an even more helpful change would be for Alabama to expand Medicaid. I am continuing to push Alabama’s leaders to expand Medicaid, and I’ve also introduced federal legislation to incentivize expansion. By doing so, we could extend health coverage to more than 300,000 Alabamians and bring home billions of our federal tax dollars back from Washington.
I’ve successfully fought to bring home federal resources to address issues that affect us every day, like preventing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in our deer population in order to preserve Alabama’s hunting traditions. We’ve also secured millions of dollars in grants to help ensure that all Alabamians have access to clean water. From my position on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I helped secure a 3.1% pay raise for our troops—the largest in a decade—and a new policy of 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees.
This is the kind of bipartisan work I came to the Senate to do – to bring Alabama values to Washington and to fight for the issues that working families care about, like affordable education and access to health care. It may seem like it’s a very partisan time in Washington and in our country, and in many ways it is. But I hope that Alabamians can look past all the yelling and arguing on cable news these days and know that I’m working to reach across the aisle and get things done.
As I look towards this new year, there’s so much more work to be done. We’re going to double down on our efforts to help make lives easier for working families. We’re going to be focused on passing my bills to prevent child abuse and domestic violence and to reduce barriers to adoption. I’m going to keep pushing for state leaders to expand Medicaid and to invest in rural health care. And I’m going to work to pass my legislation to simplify the FAFSA even more in order to make it easier for more young Alabamians to afford higher education.
I’m proud of the work we were able to accomplish together this year, but we’re just getting started!
As we continue our work in the new year, I’d love to hear from you with your ideas, concerns, or feedback. To reach me, please visit jones.senate.gov/contact.

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