MN03 Erik Paulsen Turns from Human Trafficking to Opioids to save his seat

Circa January 10, 2014, the question was posed Will Sex-Trafficking Save the GOP ?
[Highlights below]

Paulsen Talks Sex-Trafficking; House Votes on Obamacare

In political elections, perception is everything.

Do you want to be known as a leading obstructionist in the Do-Nothing Congress … or do you want to find an issue, develop bi-partisan support and enact it ?

The Republicans realize that the Do-Nothing Shutdown Congress is not way to enter an election … especially when polls indicate that they are having a problem with women voters.

Soon Erik Paulsen was tweeting and issuing press releases raising awareness of sex-trafficking …

It was a smart election strategy in 2014
… and 2016

… and 2018

Yep, and every year he seems to be citing another piece of human trafficking legislation that he helped pass or an OpEd he wrote on the subject.

It’s worked … every election year. The fact that these measures are so overwhelmingly bipartisan should tell voters that anyone representing Minnesota’s Third District would support them — is never mentioned.

So what should Congressman Paulsen do when facing the 2018 elections having disappointed so many of his voters :
Those that wanted ObamaCare repealed, are angry
Those that read the Paulsen HealthCare Reform Act, are fearful of what he will if re-elected
Those that worry about the national debt, are exasperated
Those that wanted action on DACA and assurances of protective status for Liberians/Haitians/Nicaraguans/El Salvadorians refugees, are facing deportation
Those that wanted good paying jobs after the Paulsen Tax Cut, are not happy that he is touting that McDonald’s is looking for 5,000 workers in Minnesota
Heck, the only ones that appear to be happy are Paulsen Donors … and they are filling his war chest.

Campaign dollars will produce some slick ads … but on what subject ?

Can he keep talking human trafficking when the Trump policy of family separation is in the headlines — NO.
So, what else ???
Of course … opioids !

It won’t be hard to find some pithy quote from a press release and some legislation to cite … for example, this press release from Congressman Paulsen

“Nearly 2 million Americans are addicted to or abuse prescription opiate-based painkillers, which impacts not only these individuals, but their loved ones and communities as well,” said Paulsen. “This bipartisan legislation fights back against this epidemic by empowering state and local governments. This commonsense approach brings together law enforcement, health care providers, and recovery organizations to combat opioid abuse.”

Since 1999, the amount of prescription painkillers prescribed and sold in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled, despite no overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report. As a result of this bill, grants will be awarded to states to establish, implement, and improve state-based prescription drug monitoring programs, among other programs and initiatives. Additionally, the Congressional Budget Office estimates this legislation will reduce the federal deficit by $47 billion over the next ten years.

Sure glad that Congressman Paulsen is on top of the opioid problem … oops … guess the date of the date of that press release should have been mentioned … it was July 8, 2016 and the legislation was the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act which was signed into law on July 22, 2016.

That’s right, what some may thought was already addressed in 2016, is getting a lot of attention in 2018.

Let’s update.
Last week the House passed 25 bills to strengthen the federal response to the growing opioid epidemic. The House has another 30 addiction-focused bills on the docket for this week — including one that is sponsored by Congressman Paulsen — H. R.5775 Providing Reliable Options for Patients and Educational Resources Act of 2018” or the “PROPER Act of 2018“.
Yep, with over 50 bills, there is enough legislation that every Republican facing a tough re-election can take claim for passing opioid-related legislation.
Yep, there will be a lot of slick campaign flyers filling your mailbox … regardless of what the bill actually does.

So what is in Congressman Paulsen’s bill ?
HR 5775, will require Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans to include information on the risks associated with opioids, coverage of certain nonopioid treatments used to treat pain, and on the safe disposal of prescription drugs.
It was offered on May 11, 2018 and is quickly moving for a vote.

Yep … it is bipartisan (Democrats Ron Kind and Connor Lamb were original sponsors).
So expect an easy vote … and a press release from Congressman Paulsen about his “hard work” on the issue … probably not mentioning that it will be implemented in 2021.
Yeah, you read that date correctly … 2021 … Congressman Paulsen must already be planning on citing that legislation in his 2020 campaign.

Oh, there is one thing that Congressman Paulsen may not mention in the campaign ad or press release … that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is already doing it … read their April 2, 2018 press release :

We expect all sponsors to implement real-time safety alerts at the time of dispensing as a proactive step to engage both patients and prescribers about overdose risk and prevention.
CMS is also signaling that we are contemplating future rulemaking in this area to potentially require the adoption of such platforms by MA plans in 2020.

That’s right five weeks after the CMS said they were doing this, Congressman Paulsen is writing a bill telling them to do it … but giving them more time than they thought necessary.

Ya gotta see what Congressman Paulsen’s bill is … a showy piece of legislation for election year fodder.
It’s paperwork … not treating the problem … and limited to Medicare participants.

Sadly, but in the over 50 bills that the Republican-controlled House is moving forward, one bill is not.
Betty McCollum’s HR 5124 Community Action Opioid Response Act of 2018 has garnered 11 Republicans as co-sponsors … but not Erik Paulsen. Congresswoman McCollum’s bill would actually address the problem … but it provides grants to communities to address the crisis and grants means spending money … and after the Paulsen Tax Cuts, spending money is something that Republicans still object to doing.

Yep, in 2014, it was human trafficking that helped paint a picture of a bipartisan effective Congressman deserving re-election … and 2018, Congressman Paulsen hopes opioids will save his seat.