After Ignoring Agent Orange and Veterans, GOP Attacks St. Jude Medical

Unless something happens in the lame duck session, it appears that the John Kline Legacy will be marked as not only one that allowed the Agent Orange Act of 1991 to expire (even though veterans and their offspring are still being impacted), and failing to sponsor legislation to renew it.
FYI : HR 3423 Agent Orange Extension Act of 2015 has 57 bipartisan sponsors ( 22 Republicans and 35 Democrats including Minnesotans Tom Emmer, Betty McCollum, Rick Nolan, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz).

Worse yet for Congressman Kline‘s legacy, HR 969 the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2015 (which would extend coverage to impacted Navy personnel) has 334 sponsors ( 159 Republicans and 175 Democrats including Minnesotans Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Rick Nolan, Erik Paulsen, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz).

Both bills are languished in the Republican-controlled House … and with John Kline not running for another term, those are not the only bills that veterans are being impacted — H.R.3988 – Military and Veterans Education Protection Act and H.R.1603 – Military SAVE (Military Sexual Assault Victims Empowerment) Act — are stuck in his committee, while one of his own bills H.R.3549 – VA Billing Accountability Act, is stuck in the Chairman Miller’s committee.

Yes … veterans’ issues just don’t seem to be getting any reaction from Republicans.

In the backdrop of this, Angie Craig, a Democrat running to replace John Kline, has launched two campaign ads both mentioning veterans including her efforts at St. Jude Medical to establish a Veterans Hiring Program.

St. Jude Medical engages with our servicemen and servicewomen is by supporting them in their career transition; encouraging them to consider careers in the medical device industry. The company partners with MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program (MVPvets), a non-profit program that pairs mentors from the medical technology industry with veterans to assist them in navigating the job market.

So, how does the RNCC react … they issue an attack on Angie Craig and St. Jude Medical.

Angie Craig’s company overcharged veterans for medical devices

“It is an astonishing display of hypocrisy for Angie Craig to run a campaign ad on her company’s record on veterans, when that same company was forced to pay a multi-million dollar settlement for overcharging our nation’s veterans for medical devices. Instead of misleading voters about her company’s record on veterans, Angie Craig should apologize to Minnesota’s veterans’ community for her company’s history of ripping them off by overcharging them for their medical treatment.” – NRCC Spokesman Bob Salera

In 2012, Craig’s company, St. Jude Medical, was forced to pay $3.65 million as part of a settlement with the Department of Justice for overcharging our nation’s veterans for their medical devices.
The settlement resolved a Justice Department case under the False Claims Act into Craig’s company inflating the cost of replacement pacemakers and defibrillators purchased by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

WOW ! ! !

Strong words … but are they accurate ? Or, spin ????

Let’s first dismiss the assertion that St. Jude Medical is “her company” … it is a publicly traded company where she joined in May 2005 as Vice President of Communications after a twelve year career at Smith & Nephew … and she has left the company to run for Congress.

But, it is not debatable that St. Jude Medical did reach a $3.65 million settlement to resolve civil allegations while acknowledging there was no determination of liability.

The lawsuit dates the issue back to 1999. As a condition of resolving warranty claims, St. Jude Medical required the return of explanted devices. Since hospitals routinely discarded the devices, they were not returned and credits were not issued. The lawsuit cited that St. Jude Medical management did not train sales representatives and provide oversight on the proper processing of warranty credits.

In 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice, acting through the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston, commenced an industry-wide investigation. As part of this investigation, St. Jude Medical received a civil subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston requesting documents created since January 2000 regarding their practices.

The lawsuit was filed on August 8, 2008 and settled in 2012.

So, how much should Angie Craig be blamed for a practice that predates her employment ?
Reading the lawsuit, Angie Craig’s name is never mentioned although other members of management were cited.

Better question … Would the RNCC mention St. Jude Medical settlements if Angie Craig was not running for Congress ?

Of course, not. This is spin … trying to assert that veterans were being “ripped off” … yet Republicans have no problem accepting campaign contributions (this cycle) from the St. Jude Medical Political Action Committee including :

Black, Diane (R-TN) $1,000
Blackburn, Marsha (R-TN) $4,000
Brady, Kevin (R-TX) $2,500
Bucshon, Larry (R-IN) $4,000
Burgess, Michael (R-TX) $3,000
Duncan, Jeff (R-SC) $2,500
Ellmers, Renee (R-NC) $2,000
Guthrie, Brett (R-KY) $4,000
Johnson, Sam (R-TX) $1,000
McCarthy, Kevin (R-CA) $5,000
Meehan, Patrick (R-PA) $3,500
Paulsen, Erik (R-MN) $9,000
Pitts, Joe (R-PA) $2,000
Price, Tom (R-GA) $3,000
Reed, Tom (R-NY) $1,000
Rodgers, Cathy McMorris (R-WA) $2,000
Roskam, Peter (R-IL) $2,000
Ryan, Paul (R-WI) $2,000
Shimkus, John M (R-IL) $4,000
Valadao, David (R-CA) $1,000
Walden, Greg (R-OR) $2,000
Walters, Mimi (R-CA) $4,000

Veterans and their families have suffered from inaction by John Kline and House Republicans … it is welcome that the Democrats have a candidate who is recognizing the need to address reintegration of veterans returning from active duty by pushing businesses to employ veterans.

There is no doubt that Congress must continue to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that Veterans are able to access medical and mental healthcare, and the same time, holding accountable those in VA leadership for the management of these facilities responsible for providing that care.

Angie Craig should be applauded for her past focus on veterans and her commitment to helping veterans and their families in the next Congress.

Shame on House Republicans for ignoring our veterans.

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