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COLUMBIA – Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, invited various health care professionals and patients alike to the Family Health Center Thursday to address health care concerns for Missourians. 

Hot topics included rural health care, the cost of medicine, uninsured patients, health insurance literacy and more.

The Democratic senator heard from several health care professionals.

Dr. Luke Stephens, a family medicine physician in Ashland, said it was a good opportunity to speak directly with a lawmaker about rural health concerns.

McCaskill said she was surprised to learn about some of the pressures Columbia hospitals feel and that patients from surrounding rural areas bypass their local facilities to go to more expensive ones.

"We need to get more people trained in the medical professions that are from rural Missouri that will go back to rural Missouri," she said. 

Pharmaceutical companies and the cost of prescription medications were also major concerns.

“I learned about the high cost of prescription drugs and how that is really hurting these patients, and what we have to continue to do which is quit letting pharma control Washington through political donations. It is outrageous that we have not allowed the government to negotiate for lower prices for prescription drugs based on volume,” McCaskill said. 

In a statement to KOMU 8 News, U.S. Senate candidate and current Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said:

“Claire McCaskill is always a great ally of the rich and well connected—people like herself— and health care is no different. Over her 12 years in the Senate, McCaskill has given the people of Missouri health care costs so high the average family can barely afford the monthly bill. Meanwhile, the insurance companies get richer and richer. And illegal immigrants are getting Obamacare. So much for the middle class. She can talk all she wants, but her actions speak for themselves. Missourians deserve better.” 

The release stated McCaskill contradicts many of her claims to help and pointed out she has taken money from the health care industry.

In the release, Hawley's campaign posed the question: "According to FEC records, you've taken over $2 million from the health industry, but you're criticizing them for the rising costs on your constituents. Why take their money. 

When asked about that criticism at the event, McCaskill said, "Absolutely not. I am not part of the problem because I am the senator who is voting against their interest, investigating their behaviors, calling them out, investigating the insurance companies for what they are doing on emergency room bills. I think it’s a really indication of how independent I am."

During McCaskill's trip to mid-Missouri, she opened her Columbia office Thursday as well.