Dan Benishek

Dan Benishek

MICHIGAN's 1st DISTRICT

Dr. Benishek Votes in Favor of Fix to Patient Provider Payments

2015/03/26

Washington, D.C- Following the successful passage of the "Doc Fix" to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) that occurred in the House of Representatives today, Congressman Dan Benishek released the statement below:

"Having served as a doctor in Northern Michigan for over thirty years, I understand the need for patient-centered reforms to our healthcare system that ensure reliable access to affordable care.  This bill is a bipartisan compromise that will help keep Medicare solvent and ensure that seniors are able to get the medical care that they deserve.  It will put an end to the piecemeal patches and finally provide long-term health care stability and security for seniors in Northern Michigan."

H.R. 2, the "Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015" passed by a vote of 392-37.  This bipartisan legislation has been endorsed by medical providers and senior advocacy groups, and will now move to the Senate in hopes of passage before the March 31st deadline.  

The Sustainable Growth Rate was enacted in 1997 in a misguided attempt to slow the rise of Medicare costs.  The SGR formula has called for drastic cuts for reimbursements given to health care providers who treat Medicare patients.  Since 2003, the SGR has been patched with 17 short-term bills to avert drastic Medicare cuts.  These short-term bills have cost the taxpayers almost $170 billion, more than it cost to permanently repeal and replace the SGR today with H.R. 2.

Congressman Dan Benishek is a native of Iron Mountain, MI where he served as a doctor for over thirty years, both in the private sector and at the VA.  Since coming to Congress, he has advocated for patient-centered reforms to our nation's healthcare system. 

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Benishek Supports A Balanced Budget

2015/03/26

Washington, D.C. - Following the passage of the FY 2016 Budget Resolution, Congressman Dan Benishek released the statement below:

"As any family knows, you must have a budget in order to responsibly plan for the future. This budget is a solution that balances in less than 10 years while building a healthy economy from the ground up, keeping Americans safe, and saving vital programs like Medicare and Social Security.  I ran for Congress because I was concerned about the future that we were leaving for our children and grandchildren.  Our nation is on an unsustainable fiscal path, with an anticipated debt of $25 Trillion by 2025.  This budget puts us back on the path of fiscal solvency while protecting the critical programs on which many Americans depend."       

The FY 2016 budget cuts over 5.5 trillion in wasteful or duplicative government spending.  At the same time, it ensures that our country will maintain the level of funding necessary to provide for a strong national defense.  Furthermore, the budget repeals Obamacare in its entirety and implements reforms that will save Medicare for today's seniors and future retirees through structural improvements.  The FY 2016 Budget also calls for a comprehensive tax reform program to eliminate loopholes and lower the overall tax burden for all Americans.

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Benishek Applauds VA Effort to Improve Choice Act Eligibility

2015/03/24

Washington, D.C-  Today, Dr. Benishek released the following statement on the Department of Veterans Affairs' announced intentions to modify the rules of the Choice Act, legislation passed last year to improve the ability of veterans to access local care.  Previously, the VA had required veterans to be further than 40 miles from a VA facility "as the crow flies" before becoming eligible for the Choice Card that allows veterans to obtain care from any local provider. 

"Congress passed the Choice Act to ensure our veterans have access to the care they have earned, but the VA's original interpretation of the law proved to be a burden to many of our heroes.  I have been working with the VA urging them to reconsider their interpretation, and I am pleased that they have changed the rules to better accommodate veterans like those in Northern Michigan who often had to travel long distances on account of a technicality", said Dr. Benishek. "It is just comment sense.  I look forward to learning more details of this plan to ensure that it makes a real difference for Northern Michigan veterans."

The 40-Mile Rule proved to be a challenge to many veterans, especially those in Northern Michigan, who had to drive farther than 40 miles via rural roads, sometimes in harsh winter conditions, in order to reach a VA facility.  While a veteran may be physically within 40 miles of a clinic, he or she may have been required to travel much further to actually reach the clinic.  Since the passage of the Choice Act, Congressman Benishek has urged the VA to reconsider this interpretation of the law. 

Dr. Benishek spent 20 years as a VA doctor treating patients at the Iron Mountain VA facility.  As Chairman of the Veterans Health Subcommittee, he played an integral role in creating and helping to pass the landmark reform legislation, leading many of the hearings that uncovered the VA's incompetency.  Dr. Benishek was also successful in getting a new law enacted based on an idea from a local veterans that provides Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) greater access to federal surplus property, such as spare vehicles and equipment, for use at their facilities.

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Dr. Benishek Responds to VA Policy Change

2015/03/19

Washington, D.C- Following a hearing by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, the VA has announced their intention to develop procedural standards for the release of internal investigations into the quality of care for veterans.  At the hearing, it was revealed in questioning from Congressman Benishek that the Inspector General's office currently has no policy for the timing and process for the release of internal inquiries.  Previous reports have revealed that as many as 140 investigations into the practices of the VA, some of which contain recommendations for changes, have been not released publically or to the committee.  Today, the VA IG has announced that his staff will oversee all future releases and that a formal policy will be instituted. 

"I am pleased to learn that the VA has recognized the problem and is taking steps to correct it.  While I found it unbelievable that no such policy for the public release of information existed previously, I look forward to learning the details of their new effort towards transparency," said Congressman Benishek, a former VA Surgeon from Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

This announcement comes on the heels of a revelation that the VA IG's office conducted an investigation into the Tomah facility in Wisconsin and failed to release the results.  At the Tomah facility, numerous veterans died following the over-prescription of opiate drugs.

Dr. Benishek spent 20 years as a VA doctor treating patients at the Iron Mountain VA facility.  As Chairman of the Veterans Health Subcommittee, he played an integral role in creating and helping to pass the landmark reform legislation, leading many of the hearings that uncovered the VA's incompetency.  Dr. Benishek was also successful in getting a new law enacted based on an idea from a local veterans that provides Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) greater access to federal surplus property, such as spare vehicles and equipment, for use at their facilities.    

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Dr. Benishek: Soo Locks Must be a Priority

2015/03/17

Washington, D.C.- Dr. Dan Benishek led a bipartisan, bicameral effort to encourage officials at the United States Army Corps of Engineers to publically release new information related to the Soo Locks today.

The Army Corps recently completed a sensitivity analysis which would help determine the need for an eventual replacement lock at Sault Ste. Marie.  The findings of the study, however, have not been publicly released.

The letter, signed by the majority of the Michigan Congressional delegation, including both U.S. Senators, urges the Army Corps to prioritize replacing the Locks before maintenance issues interrupt commerce.   The letter also urges the Army Corps to make the results of the sensitivity analysis publicly available.  The requested study's findings should assist in moving the Army Corps towards completing a new Benefits Cost Ratio, which would eventually move the Soo Locks up on the priority funding list at the Army Corps.  All Army Corps projects are ranked based on critical need. 

"The Locks are absolutely critical to jobs and industry not only in Northern Michigan, but around the entire country.  If the Locks were out of commission for even a day, the economic impact would be severe," said Congressman Benishek.  "If you've ever seen a laker move through the Locks, you know how narrow that passageway is, and that there is no room for error.  So many industries, like steel and auto, depend on the Soo Locks, making them a priority for our national security and our economy."

While there are four locks at the Soo Locks, only two are currently open and available for use.  Lakers (ships generally 1000 feet in length) however, can only transit the Poe Lock.  If the Poe Lock were to experience an unplanned outage, there is currently no available mechanism to transport U.S. iron ore, which transits the Great Lakes almost exclusively.  According to a recent study, and unplanned closure of the Soo Locks would have a severe impact not only on the regional economy, but also the broader national economy, most notably the U.S. Steel and automobile industries.

Dr. Benishek is working with his colleagues in Congress to ensure that the Soo Locks remain a priority for the Army Corps of Engineers and that steps can be taken to replace the outdated locks. 

Congressman Benishek is a member of the Great Lakes Task Force, a group of legislators dedicated to developing solutions to the environmental challenges facing the Lakes.  A native of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, he is Michigan's only member of the Natural Resources Committee.

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Dr. Benishek: Lack of Transparency at VA is Unacceptable

2015/03/17

Washington, D.C.- Yesterday evening, the House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on the public release of findings from internal VA investigations.  Testimony was given by the VA Inspector General's Chief Counsel, Maureen Regan, and the VA General Counsel Leigh Bradley.  During the hearing, it was revealed that the VA has no standards for releasing the findings of their investigations on wait times, mismanagement, and other issues. 

Congressman Benishek directly asked if the VA had a policy of concealing report findings from the public.  Regan replied by saying, "I don't know what the standard procedure is." 

In addition, Dr. Benishek asked Bradley to account for false testimony given to the committee at a February 10 hearing.  When asked by Congressman Benishek for average patient wait times at the Greater LA VA Medical Center, Dr. Skye McDougall, Acting Director of the Desert Pacific Healthcare Network, testified "about four days." According to a CNN report released March 14, that claim is "simply not true," and that the actual wait time was 48 days.  "Was McDougal misinformed or was she deliberately trying to misrepresent wait times at the facility?" asked Benishek.

Following the hearing, Congressman Benishek said, "It is clear that our work cleaning up the bureaucratic mess at the VA is far from done.  It is unbelievable to me that the top lawyer for the IG's office does not know their policy on the public release of investigation results.  Faced with a VA that continually gives misleading testimony to Congress, it's more important than ever that the agency charged with investigating the VA be independent.  I am committed to pursuing all options, including legislation, to ensure that the public knows the results of inquiries into the quality of care for our veterans."

The hearing also addressed the ongoing issue surrounding the over-prescription of opiates to veterans at the Tomah facility in Wisconsin and other VA clinics around the country.  Last year, as Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Health, Congressman Benishek conducted a preliminary hearing on the over-use of addictive prescription drugs.  Additionally, the Congressman authored a letter last month to the Secretary and Inspector General of the VA demanding answers and transparency on the closed, administrative reports about the Tomah facility.  The hearing yesterday continues to build on that work.

"What happened in Tomah is a disgrace.  How many more veterans must suffer death by a VA prescription pad before this administration acts?" said Congressman Benishek.  "We need to get to the bottom of what occurred in Wisconsin, and we must ensure that this sort of abuse never occurs again."

Dr. Benishek spent 20 years as a VA doctor treating patients at the Iron Mountain VA facility.  As Chairman of the Veterans Health Subcommittee, he played an integral role in creating and helping to pass the landmark reform legislation, leading many of the hearings that uncovered the VA's incompetency.  Dr. Benishek was also successful in getting a new law enacted based on an idea from a local veterans that provides Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) greater access to federal surplus property, such as spare vehicles and equipment, for use at their facilities.    

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Benishek Fighting Proposed ATF Ammo Ban

2015/03/06

Washington, D.C.- Following reports that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosivesis currently considering a ban on 5.56 mm/.223 caliber M855 "green tip" ammo, a common round used in AR15 Rifles, Congressman Dan Benishek, an avid sportsman and native of the Upper Peninsula, joined a large group of legislators in calling on the agency to halt the proposed prohibition.  In a letter to the ATF Director, B. Todd Jones, Benishek and 238 other legislators urged reconsideration of the proposed "Framework" to label these and other ammunition types as "armor piercing."

Additionally, Dr. Benishek has co-sponsored H.R. 1180, a bill introduced by Rep. Rooney of Florida to prevent the ATF from implementing a regulatory program to ban the use of these common rounds. 

"Hunting, target shooting and gun ownership is a way of life for many residents of Northern Michigan.  This arbitrary relabeling of widely used AR15 ammo as "armor piercing" is a direct threat to our 2nd Amendment rights, and I am committed to ensuring that such a proposal never goes into effect," said Congressman Benishek.  

A copy of the signed letter to the ATF can be found here.  Specifically, the letter inquires as to why the regulatory "Framework" has not been published in the Federal Register and asks what other ammunition types could be considered "armor piercing" under the new rules.  

Congressman Benishek is a lifelong sportsman and a native of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  Prior to joining Congress, he served as a doctor in both private practice and the VA.  

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Benishek Votes to Prevent Department of Homeland Security Shutdown

2015/03/03

Washington, D.C.-  As part of his efforts to ensure funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Dr. Benishek today voted for legislation that would fund the agency through the end of the fiscal year.  The legislation passed with bipartisan support 257-167.  DHS is responsible for maintaining our border security, air safety, and the efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard which patrols our nation's waterways and is vital to protecting our safety and commerce in the Great Lakes.

"It is critical that we ensure funding for our nation's homeland security efforts.  The men and women protecting our nation from increasing threats should never be burdened with the uncertainty about receiving their paycheck to support their families," said Dr. Benishek.  "From the beginning, I have held that we must fund the Department of Homeland Security while preventing the implementation of the President's unconstitutional executive amnesty.  A federal judge indefinitely postponed the President's executive actions, and I will continue to support efforts either through the court system or by other means,  that helps ensure that his executive action cannot be carried out."

Dr. Benishek previously voted for legislation that would fully fund DHS while also reversing the president's executive orders on immigration.  This legislation was blocked by Senate Democrats from consideration in the U.S. Senate.     

 Dr. Benishek is a native of Michigan's Upper Peninsual and represents the First Congressional District.  Prior to joining Congress, he served as a doctor, both in private practice and at the VA.  

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Dr. Benishek Spearheads Effort to Ensure Bat Proposal Does Not Cost Jobs

2015/03/02

Washington, D.C.-  Today, Dr. Benishek led a letter, signed by twenty of his colleagues from across the United States, to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Director Dan Ashe, regarding a recent proposal that could impact the way northern-long eared bats (NLEB) are treated in Michigan and nearly forty other states.

The USFWS is currently considering the NLEB for listing as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.  Recently, the USFWS issued a proposal under section 4(d) of the Endangered Act, which outlines how the NLEB would be managed if it were to be listed.  The letter asks for additional time for stakeholders impacted by the proposal to provide comment, as well as calling for public meetings in the area.

The bipartisan letter also notes that the primary driver of the decline in bat populations has been White Nose Sydrome (WNS), a fungal disease that has afflicted the species.  Therefore, the focus of the rule should not be on human activities such as mining and road construction.

"I want to ensure that all the impacted stakeholders have time to understand how this proposal could impact jobs in Northern Michigan," said Dr. Benishek.  "In addition, it is my hope that the USFWS will continue to consider the merit of a proposal that requires setting aside large swaths of land, even though this will likely do little to address White Nose Syndrome, which is root of the bat population decline. We can protect our wildlife in a responsible manner if we utilize sound science and focus on the actual problem."

 Dr. Benishek's letter comes in the wake of reports that construction will be delayed in Traverse City in order to protect the bat, despite the fact that the USFWS has not even ruled on the species' status yet. 

A copy of Congressman Benishek's letter, which was signed by 21 Members of the House of Representatives, can be found here.

Congressman Benishek is a native of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Michigan's only member of the Natural Resources Committee.  Prior to joining Congress, he served as a doctor in both private practice and the VA.  

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Dr. Benishek Helps Introduce Asian Carp Bill

2015/03/02

Washington, D.C.- Dr. Dan Benishek joined a bi-partisan group of legislators from both chambers to introduce the Defending Our Great Lakes Act, a bill designed to halt the spread of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes.  Specifically, this bill will grant the Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies the authority they need to target  areas where invasive species, like Asian Carp, are most likely to enter the Great Lakes.

"Protecting the Great Lakes is of critical importance to Northern Michigan.  From fisheries to recreation, so much of our economy rests on the health of the Lakes," said Dr. Benishek, a lifelong resident of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  "Asian Carp would have a devastating impact, and I am committed to protecting the Great Lakes from this threat.  If you just consider tourism and recreational boating, which have over a $20 billion combined economic impact on Michigan, the threat of Asian Carp entering the Great Lakes is huge.  We have to take every necessary step possible to combat this."

This bill provides for both long-term and short-term actions by the Army Corps of Engineers to stop the spread of this species.  The Corps will have the flexibility to choose from a variety of methods to combat this threat, including electronic barriers, carbon-dioxide bubble screens, sound cannons and pheromones.  The primary location for these tools will be at the Brandon Rd. Lock and Dam outside of Chicago, IL. 

Dr. Benishek is joined in this legislation by both of Michigan's Senators, and twelve additional Members of the House from Michigan. The lead sponsor of the legislation is Congresswoman Candace Miller (MI-10).  Legislators from Wisconsin and other Great Lake States have also co-sponsored the bill.

 

Congressman Benishek is the Founder and Co-Chairman of the Invasive Species Caucus, a group of legislators dedicated to developing solutions to the environmental challenges posed by Asian Carp and other species.  A native of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, he is a lifelong angler and sportsman and Michigan's only member of the Natural Resources Committee.

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Contact Information

514 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-4735
Fax 202-225-4744
benishek.house.gov

Dan Benishek’s story is like that of many people from Northern Michigan.  Dan was born in Iron River, Michigan.  His family didn’t have much when he was growing up, and his father was killed in a mining accident when he was only 5 years old.  After his father’s death, Dan’s mother, with the help of family, raised Dan and his brother, Tim.

As a boy, Dan worked in his grandmother’s business—the Iron River Hotel.  Dan made beds, hauled beer, and cleaned the spittoons.  His grandmother paid him $10 a week for his efforts, but he had to save it for the future.

After Dan graduated from West Iron High School in 1970, he went on to earn a B.S. in biology from the University of Michigan in 1974.  Dan graduated from Wayne State Medical School in 1978 and completed a Family Practice internship in Flint at St Joseph’s Hospital.  He has served as a general surgeon in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in a private practice since 1983. He has worked part-time at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain for the past twenty years.

Dan worked as a general surgeon in Iron Mountain for nearly 30 years and raised his family in Iron Mountain.  Along the way, it never occurred to him to get into politics, let alone run for Congress.  But, like many people in Northern Michigan, Dan just got tired of seeing career politicians in Washington waste taxpayer dollars our nation doesn’t have on bills they didn’t even read.

Since coming to Congress, Dan has been fighting every day to create jobs in Northern Michigan, improve services to our veterans, and renew the promise of the American Dream for our children, grandchildren and future generations.

Dan is an avid hunter and fisherman and a proud member of the NRA and the GOA.

Dan and his wife Judy live near Crystal Falls, Michigan.  They have five children and four grandchildren.  Prior to being sworn into Congress on January 5, 2011, Dr. Benishek had never sought nor held any previous public office.


Serving With

Bill Huizenga

MICHIGAN's 2nd DISTRICT

Justin Amash

MICHIGAN's 3rd DISTRICT

John Moolenaar

MICHIGAN's 4th DISTRICT

Fred Upton

MICHIGAN's 6th DISTRICT

Tim Walberg

MICHIGAN's 7th DISTRICT

Mike Bishop

MICHIGAN's 8th DISTRICT

Candice Miller

MICHIGAN's 10th DISTRICT

Dave Trott

MICHIGAN's 11th DISTRICT

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