Get to Know Representative Paul Lee
Please tell us a little bit about yourself – Primary occupation? Interests? Hobbies?
I am the currently Executive Director of the Wiregrass Rehabilitation Center, which is located on a 26-acre campus in Dothan and hosts over 200 employees. At Wiregrass Rehab, we work to assist individuals in securing employment, overcoming vocational barriers and achieving personal independence. I am extremely proud to say that our operations have grown tremendously, and we now serve over thirty counties across three states.
When I have time away from my two jobs (State Representative and Wiregrass Rehab), I enjoy fishing, golfing, and bird hunting.
What first prompted you to consider running for your House District seat?
Prior to being elected into the House of Representatives in 2010, I served as a City Commissioner in Dothan. It was during my second term that I realized how important our legislative delegation was and the impact that the state legislature can have on our district. So, I decided to give up my seat as City Commissioner and run for the House of Representatives in hopes of making a greater impact to my community.
How do you believe your background and experiences help you serve in the legislature?
My background has tremendously helped me in my capacity as a state representative. Before my position with Wiregrass Rehab, I worked for 31 years in manufacturing with Sony. That experience is more relevant now than ever, as it furthers my belief that we need to invest in the production of goods and services here at home and not be so heavily reliant on other countries – whether it be related to healthcare or virtually anything. Additionally, the experience I gained while serving on the board of one of our local hospitals (along with my wife working in medical management) has vastly helped me in my position as Chairman of the House Health Committee.
As chairman of the House Health Committee, what will some of your priorities be in the next legislative session?
Mental health will be a major priority in the coming years. There are far too many caregivers who cannot care for and maintain the needs of those they serve.
We must find a way to save our local hospitals, pharmacies and physician practices. The closures of local healthcare facilities have a negative impact on the entire community and drives up the costs of services and drugs.
What are some health-related issues important to your district and your constituents?
Expanding broadband access to rural Alabama so that those individuals can take advantage of telehealth services. The pandemic has shown how useful this resource can be, and we need to do everything we can to ensure all Alabamians are able to reap its benefits and received needed care.
If you could change anything about our state’s health care system, what would it be?
Of course, there are many issues that need attention and must be addressed. However, I believe it is vital to look at ways to expand access to affordable care. Also, we need to maintain appropriate reimbursement rates for physicians and hospitals. Too many Alabamians are left without healthcare services, and too many providers are not compensated fairly for those services.
How can the Medical Association – and physicians statewide – help address Alabama’s health challenges?
We need new ideas to reform and expand primary care. Access to primary care is critical in preventing more serious disease complications; which, in turn, saves the entire healthcare system money.
What is the one thing you would like to say to physicians in your district?
I am grateful for the physicians in our district and have the highest degree of admiration and respect for them. We are fortunate in Houston County to have access to many specialties. Over 500K people from 3 states come to our area for healthcare.
I am not sure they could ever adequately train and prepare for the current situation with COVID-19. Our physicians have stepped up and done more with less. In my district, we have many great physicians who are also effective leaders and fulfill their role effectively. I have the utmost confidence in our physicians.