Axne fights on for lower costs, shoring up supply chains

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Rep. Cindy Axne represents Iowa's Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She can be reached at 202-225-5476.

Over the last month, I have been hard at work introducing legislation and leading the call to make changes that will continue to lower prices for Iowans, prevent potential future supply chain shortages and improve health insurance plans for Iowa’s small businesses.

My efforts are all focused on making sure Iowans have the opportunity to lead healthy lives and make a good living, and they help ensure hard-working Iowans aren’t being price gouged at the gas station or the grocery store.

I teamed up with Rep. Susan Wild in writing to House leadership, pushing for action to weaken the power of the Russian and Saudi Arabian-led group OPEC+, which announced in October it was cutting oil production quotas for member nations by 2 million barrels per day, causing prices to rise and helping Russia finance its war in Ukraine.

In the letter, we urged House leadership to take up the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act (NOPEC) Act for a vote to prevent price fixing from the OPEC+ and restrain the organization’s power over the global oil supply.

I am also pushing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Agency (CMS) to improve health insurance options for small businesses to help keep costs low for Iowa businesses that provide good-quality health insurance options for their employees by revitalizing the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).

Established by the Affordable Care Act, SHOP created state and federal exchanges for small employers to offer high-quality health insurance plans and, for eligible employers, access to the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.

Unfortunately, SHOP has fallen well short of the Congressional Budget Office’s projected participation, reaching less than 10% of its goal. In addition, twenty-eight of the fifty SHOP exchanges currently have no plans available, including Iowa’s.

As a small business owner, I know how hard it is to find affordable health care plans, so I wrote a letter to CMS, inquiring about what they can do to make a SHOP plan available for small businesses in Iowa and more generally to support more affordable options for small businesses to offer healthcare to their employees.

In October I also led a push to make sure workers’ rights are being protected here in Iowa. I sent a letter to Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend, asking for more information about the policies and penalties that are in place at the IWD to combat wage theft.

The ask came after Common Good Iowa reported wage theft is estimated to cost 250,000 Iowa workers more than $904 million annually.

The same report found that Iowa workers are shorted an average of $300 per week through minimum wage and overtime wage violations, in which workers are paid less than they are due according to federal minimum wage and overtime standards.

Iowa’s workers deserve to get the money they are owed.

I am still working on shoring up our supply chains and avoiding future disasters when it comes to shortages. That’s why I joined Rep. Mikie Sherrill in writing a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to request answers as to how the FDA will work to prevent future critical food shortages.

This year, we saw what could happen when critical formula production plants, like the Abbott plant in Michigan, shut down. More than 40% of the nation’s supply of baby formula was out of stock by May.

In our letter, we asked the FDA what they are doing to ensure families never face an infant formula shortage again.

There is still a lot of work to be done in Congress to ensure Iowans can reap the benefits of their hard work, and I will continue to fight as hard as I can for them.

Rep. Cindy Axne represents Iowa’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She can be reached at 202-225-5476.

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