Still, the town hall, the 935th Wyden has conducted since being elected in 1996, will not soon be forgotten by the senator, who announced it was being conducted in honor of the veterans of
"This is the first time I have ever dedicated a town hall (to a group or individual)," the senator said.
Wyden took this step after saluting retiring Union County Veterans Service Director
"He has just been incredible," Wyden said. "Byron is a lifeline for the veterans of
Wyden, while speaking about veterans, mentioned his late father, who was Jewish and grew up in
Wyden recalled his father, who became an American citizen, eagerly enlisted in the
Following his presentation to Whipple, the senator began fielding questions from the audience, a number of which concerned the rising cost of pharmaceuticals. Wyden said this is one of the most important issues facing
"My number one priority is helping (bring) down the price of drugs," Wyden said. "We need to stop the price gouging by pharmaceutical companies."
He said there are problems up and down the prescription drug supply chain, including insurance companies, which need to be addressed. He said steps such as getting rid of the middleman need to be taken to help tackle the problem.
Wyden also said the financial side of health care is caught in a continually increasing cycle: When people who can't afford insurance need emergency medical care, the cost is passed on to other patients in the form of higher prices for medical care.
Wyden came to
"For years and years, I would go to bed every night wondering if he was going to hurt himself," Wyden said of his brother Jeffrey, who died in 2001 at age 51.
Those posing health care questions at the town hall included a nursing student from the
"You can't have rural Oregon without rural health care," Wyden said.
He said one way to boost rural health care in
"We want you (students at OHSU-EOU) to stay," Wyden said.
The senator mentioned another hurdle facing rural health care is the high cost of medical education and the resulting debts.
"This is discouraging people from getting into medicine," Wyden said.
Addressing another health care issue, Wyden spoke about the possibility of creating a single-payer system in
"I'm all for expanding Medicare choices," Wyden said.
One reservation he has is that under a single-payer system, millions of Americans who now receive health insurance from their employers would lose it.
Wyden was also asked about efforts by
"Paper can't be hacked," he said. He noted in states like Oregon, which has vote by mail, all ballots are paper. Wyden said he would like all states to follow Oregon's example.
Wyden was also asked about his plans to help towns in rural Oregon rebuild their infrastructure. The senator said he is working with fellow senators to get more funding to help communities with things like road and water projects.
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