Tea Party Member Slows Meningitis-Inspired Legislation
Roanoke Co., VA - Legislation that could help prevent another outbreak of fungal meningitis is stalled in Congress - and one local parent is not happy about it.
So far, 64 people have died from that meningitis outbreak, including five Virginians.
More than 700 others were injured.
The current legislation is being stalled by a Senator who is trying to parlay his vote to include legislation aimed at picking apart the Affordable Care Act.
The father of one of these meningitis victims says the legislation is "being held hostage" by a lone Republican senator from a state that wasn't even affected by the outbreak.
For a year now, Ben Foutz has studied everything he possibly can about fungal meningitis.
A disease that almost claimed his teenaged son, Zac, after he received a steroid shot to manage an injury.
And while a year later Zac is still dealing with the after effects of the disease... the laws that made the outbreak possible have yet to be fixed.
"It's happened again. People are going to get hurt again," said Foutz.
The holdup on HR 3204 - which passed the House only to be shot down in the Senate, belongs to Louisiana Senator, Republican David Vitter.
Vitter, a Tea Party supporter, earlier this week refused to agree to a consent vote that would allow for the bill to move straight to the President.
Instead forcing it into the debate cycle.
"You would think that our elected officials learned their lessons from the government shutdown but it is obvious that they haven't. They're still playing partisan politics and they're playing with people's lives on this one," said Foutz.
Vitter's position, according to multiple published reports, is that he wants the legislation linked to parts of the Affordable Care Act that he wants to see struck down.
Multiple calls and e-mails to Vitter's office have not been returned.
If it is ever passed, the bill would regulate compounding pharmacies - like New England Compounding Center which made the deadly steroid - forcing them through rigid requirements prior to releasing medicines to the community.
A problem that, many say, without these regulations will inevitably kill and maim again.
"Make no doubt about it, it's about one thing: Money. It's about people making more money. And if somebody doesn't step in and stop this people are going to continue to get hurt in the name of a profit," said Foutz.
Good news is that Zac Foutz, after nearly a year, is back on the football field with the Cave Spring Knights.
Last week Zac had 142 receiving yards and a touchdown.
He isn't 100%, his father says, but is on the way to recovery.