A Marist-NBC poll taken September 30th through October 4th reported what must have been alarming news for Minnesota’s Third District Congressman Erik Paulsen.
Let’s ignore the polling done on the US Senate and Minnesota Governor’s races and focus on the issues that Minnesotans care about the most :
21% The economy and jobs
8% Federal taxes and spending
5% Foreign policy and terrorism
Gosh, ya gotta think that after the Paulsen Tax Cut, he probably hoped for more people than 8% would be excited about that.
But Congressman Paulsen got some bad news via a Gallop Poll
Has the tax cut law helped or not helped your family’s financial situation?
Overall, 51% of Americans say the law has not helped their family’s financial situation … and if your income is below $90,000 it’s even higher.
Of course, just because somebody says that an issue is important, does not mean that you know which side of the coin they are on … take Immigration … do they want quick action on DACA or do they want a border wall ? Abortion may be a top issue but are they pro-choice or pro-life ? Do they want gun restrictions or to have unrestrained access ?
Of course that is also true regarding Healthcare … do they want ObamaCare repealed (as Congressman Paulsen has voted to do over 70 times) or do they want it improved ?
So how is Congressman Paulsen confronting the problem ?
Well, he reminded voters that he promoted legislation regarding Medicare Cost Plans … as discussed on a previous commentary, 437,693 seniors are losing their coverage and Congressman Paulsen wants to give them more time for insurance companies to peddle Medicare Advantage policies to them.
He also tweeted
I recently cosponsored the Pre-existing Conditions Protections Act (HR1121), which reaffirms my commitment to ensuring continued access to health care insurance for Americans with pre-existing conditions. pic.twitter.com/a8s6PTQHrL
— Erik Paulsen (@Erik_Paulsen) September 17, 2018
“Recently” ??? Too bad that he didn’t tell voters that his bill has been sitting around in his Ways and Means Committee since February 16, 2017 … with no action.
Not only is the bill getting no action but other Republicans have moved on to sponsor a better bill. H.R. 6898 – Maintaining Protections for Patients with Preexisting Conditions Act maintains current law allowances for premium rate variations based on age, while Paulsen’s H.R.1121 opens the door to an Age Tax.
Gosh, sounds a little disingenuous.
And recently, he (and his friends on the Ways and Means Committee) have been tweeting about legislation lifting the pharmacists gag rule.
Some important bipartisan progress in the effort to make prescription drugs more affordable for Minnesota families: https://t.co/x8qxhvb5LZ
I co-authored similar legislation banning gag clauses in the House, pleased to see it signed into law.
— Rep. Erik Paulsen (@RepErikPaulsen) October 11, 2018
.@RepErikPaulsen fought for common-sense legislation that will allow
your pharmacist to advise you if there is a cheaper way to pay for your prescriptions – ending “gag order” clauses in contracts between pharmacies and insurance companies.
This legislation is now law!
— Ways and Means (@WaysandMeansGOP) October 12, 2018
OK … so what’s happening here.
Last week, President Trump signed Know the Lowest Price Act of 2018 (S. 2553) into law.
The “S” represents a Senate bill versus an “H.R.” signifies it originated in the House of Representatives.
The issue is one that Minnesotans have been hearing about … from Senator Tina Smith (note the date of the tweet – July)
Sometimes paying for your Rx drugs with cash is cheaper than using insurance. But you might not know that bc the pharma industry uses “gag clauses” to prevent your pharmacist from telling you this. That’s unacceptable—and I helped advance a bill to end it. https://t.co/Jb5IDJU6fH
— Senator Tina Smith (@SenTinaSmith) July 30, 2018
While “gag” clauses are already prohibited in Medicare through regulation, private insurance companies (and employer plans) could dictate what could be told to a customer regarding price.
Depending upon the insurance company contract with the pharmacy, many pharmacists couldn’t legally tell their customers whether drugs were cheaper when paying out-of-pocket. This gets even worse, if your employer changed insurance companies, you could end up paying a higher co-pay for the same medication … and the pharmacist couldn’t tell you that there were alternatives. In fact, a pharmacist would be violating his contract by discussing the drug’s cost without insurance.
Senator Smith and her colleagues met on July 25th and approved legislation for a vote by the full Senate – which it did.
Meanwhile, the House version — H.R.6144 – Know the Lowest Price Act of 2018 was introduced on June 19, 2018 and garnered bipartisan support. That bipartisan support did not included Congressman Paulsen, so it just languished in his Ways and Means Committee.
Instead Congressman Paulsen authored his own bill — H. R. 6641 “True Cost-sharing Of Seniors’ drugs Transparency Act” or the “COST Act”. That bill got one co-sponsor and was also ignored by Congressman Paulsen’s Ways and Means Committee.
Since the Senate did its job, it was just up to the House to act — remember it is an election year, and every Congressional District is on the ballot … so on September 25, the House took fifteen minutes to “debate” the Senate bill — Republicans praising it and Democrats supported ending gag clauses, but noted that Congress needs to be doing more, such as advancing bills to allow Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies.
It passed it via a voice vote.
Congressman Paulsen did not participate in the debate, so it is questionable if he was even there for the vote.
Once again, sure sounds a little disingenuous to be taking credit for this.
Actually, it sounds like Congressman Paulsen is just a “cheerleader” when we really need “leaders” to addressing the high cost of medical care.
Heck, is Congressman Paulsen even a member of the House Prescription Drug Task Force ? BTW, did you know that Senator Smith is a co-chair of the Senate’s bipartisan Rural Health Caucus?
Why hasn’t Congressman Paulsen sponsored H.R.6505 – Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act of 2018 ?
Or, H.R.242 – Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2017
H.R.1775 – Prescription Reduction in Costs for Everyone (PRICE) Act of 2017
H.R.1776 – Improving Access To Affordable Prescription Drugs Act
H.R.1854 – Prescription Drug Monitoring Act of 2017
H.R.3748 – Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017
BTW, did you know that Senator Smith has introduced a number of bills to address medical costs
S. 2476 Expanding Access to Low Cost Generic Drugs Act
S. 2885 Disclosing Pharmaceutical Company Windfall Profits Act of 2018
S. 3411 Affordable Medications Act
S. 3434 Reducing Administrative Costs and Burdens in Health Care Act of 2018
plus other proposals related to mental health and veterans care.
Hmmm … maybe that is why the Marist/NBC Poll shows that Tina Smith is garnering strong support in her election campaign … Minnesotans see a leader versus a cheerleader.
Apparently they want someone who will stand up for Minnesota, not be a Trump Party Puppet.
Which leads to the question, is candidate Paulsen desperate or disingenuous ?
Well, let’s hope that he is just desperate because being disingenuous — actually bordering on dishonest — is unworthy of the character and integrity of an elected Minnesotan.