FLORENCE — U.S. Sen. Doug Jones said Monday he sees a different view of the political atmosphere in our nation's capital than what many Americans may think is occurring.

"Everybody thinks that in Washington, D.C., today all they do is talk by Twitter," Jones, D-Ala., said during a town hall-type meeting at the University of North Alabama. "We don't do that.

"There's a lot more bipartisanship that goes on behind the scenes that you just don't see. It goes on at committee level. It goes on at the staff level."

At another point, he commented, "I'll bet I've co-sponsored 150 pieces of legislation and out of those at least 90 percent are bipartisan."

The Florence gathering was among a series of stops the senator is making this week to discuss health care and meet with health providers.

The tour comes ahead of oral arguments next week regarding a lawsuit on the Affordable Care Act, according to Jones' office. The suit, brought by 20 Republican attorneys general, asserts the act should be invalidated due to a tax change that removed the penalty for not having insurance.

Jones, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and a Democrat in a majority Republican state, defeated Roy Moore in a special election in December 2017.

Jones is seeking re-election in 2020 and Moore has announced plans to run again as a Republican.

Jones asked the crowd in the Communications Building Film Screening Room to lobby for the Legislature to expand Medicaid offerings, which is a state decision.

"If we were to expand Medicaid it would bring in some 326,000 people who would get health care in this state," Jones said, citing first-year advantages of doing so. "If you look at statistics of states that expand Medicaid, you will see that there are health benefit outcomes."

He said the move also would have brought $2 billion in federal funds to Alabama in the first year.

"We have lost a lot of money in this state because we have not expanded Medicaid," Jones said.

The senator also spoke about the Lower Healthcare Costs Act of 2019, which he said would "eliminate surprise billing" issues caused by unexpected emergencies while increasing transparency and giving patients more information in choosing health care options.

He supports the Maternal Care Act, which allocates $125 million to identify women who are in high-risk pregnancies and provide them with needed resources. Jones said that particularly is needed in Alabama.

"Women who are pregnant and trying to give birth to a child have such problems in this state," Jones said. "Generally people believe that Alabama is the second highest state in the country in mothers' deaths during a pregnancy."

During a question-and-answer session, Jones said money laundering statutes need updating.

"For law enforcement purposes, it is a big deal," the former U.S. attorney said. "Between drug dealers and terrorists, the money moving around this country is unbelievable, just unbelievable."

Asked about international matters, Jones mentioned the recent G-20 summit meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. During that meeting, a reporter asked Trump about Russian meddling in U.S. elections and Trump responded by wagging his finger at Putin and telling him not to meddle in the elections in what appeared to be a joking manner.

"Supporters of President Trump need to stand up and speak out and say you should not joke with Vladimir Putin about interfering with our elections like he did the other day," Jones said.

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski


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