In what is sure to be a 2020 election-year issue, House Democrats passed the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Act (also known as Lower Drug Costs Now Act) on December 12, 2019.
This legislation, designed to give the federal government power to negotiate drug prices for Medicare and private insurance recipients, has already been consigned to Political Prince of Darkness-Enemy of the People-Obstructionist in Chief-Moscow Mitch McConnell’s legislative graveyard.
The bill, which was a little less then what the Congressional Progressive Caucus wanted (they wanted price protections for the uninsured) and more than the recently unveiled conservative counterproposal passed on a 230 to 192 vote.
All of Arizona’s House Democrats (Anne Kirkpatrick, Ruben Gallego, Raul Grijalva, Tom O’Halleran, and Greg Stanton) voted for the bill. All of the Grand Canyon State’s Republicans (Debbie Lesko, Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, and David Schweikert) either voted against the measure or did not participate (Gosar.)
What is it about helping people get affordable and quality healthcare (while also saving the government money) that repulses Republicans?
Some of the Arizona Democratic Congressional Candidates running to replace these Republicans are asking the same question. They offered their views on the passage of the Prescription Drug Bill.
Congressional District Four Democratic Candidate Delina DiSanto (on Twitter)
“Again today, @RepGosar did NOT vote for Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act(HR 3); bill requires Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to negotiate prices for certain drugs which we need drastically for constituents in #AZ04. #GosarHasToGo”
Congressional District Five Democratic Candidate Joan Greene
“Our Country has said they wanted lower prescription drug costs and the Democrats in Congress listened. This week the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act was submitted and passed by the House.”
“The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that H.R.3 — the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act — would lower prescription drug prices by about 50 percent and save $456 billion over 10 years.”
“This is life-changing and life-saving for our families.”
“I wish my opponent, Andy Biggs (R) had voted in favor of our families and supported President Trump as he keeps his promise to the American people that he would negotiate the cost of drugs “like crazy.”
“Health care and lower drug costs should not be a partisan issue.”
“When I am elected you can always count on me to help and not hurt our community!”
Congressional District Six Democratic Candidate Anita Malik (On Facebook)
“The #LowerDrugCostsNowAct passed the House today, but with no help from our own David Schweikert.”
“Rep. David Schweikert, what will you tell a mother who cannot afford insulin for her child? Or the cancer patient?”
“Voting to maintain sky high-profit margins while millions struggle to afford life-saving prescription drugs, Schweikert once again has shown his disregard for our families.”
“I will always put people before profits. #AZ06”
Congressional District Six Candidate Dr. Hiral Tipirneni (On Facebook)
“As a former ER physician, I’ve seen firsthand what happens when people can’t afford their prescription drugs and end up in the hospital as a result, with complications that could have been avoided. I talk to folks every day who are struggling to keep up with the ever-rising costs of prescription drugs – people with diabetes who are rationing the insulin they need to survive, seniors who can’t put food on the table because they need to buy their heart meds, and young families who are drowning in debt from their children’s seizure or asthma meds. This is happening all across Arizona while pharmaceutical companies reap record profits.”
“It is unconscionable that Representative. Schweikert would vote against the health and well being of his constituents by standing with the big pharmaceutical companies that fund his campaign. It’s time we had a leader who will vote to actually help the Arizona families they were elected to serve instead of appeasing their special interest donors.”
Congressional District Eight Candidate Michael Muscato (On Facebook)
“While she hoped you weren’t looking (we were), Congresswoman Debbie Lesko voted -against- H.R. 3, a bill that would allow the government to negotiate Medicare and Medicaid drug prices and ensure competitive pricing. This exposes another #LeskoLie that she cares about lowering drug prices—she doesn’t and her “No” vote proves it. It’s time to #FireLesko.”
“I fully support lowering drug costs for seniors, Medicare and Medicaid recipients, and all Americans and I would have voted for H.R. 3.”
“Learn more about my AmeriCare plan on my website: https://muscato4congress.com/healthcare “
Congressional District Eight Candidate Bob Musselwhite
“This is the kind of common sense forward progress that we need on this issue. Unfortunately, the bill has not been passed by the Senate where apparently common sense is not so common.”
Joan Greene is right. Quality and affordable health care should not be a partisan issue.
Unfortunately, most Republicans like the four in the Arizona House that did not vote for the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Act prefer to do the bidding of the lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry than the people they represent.
Matt Grodsky, the Communications Spokesperson for the Arizona Democratic Party issued a statement that read:
“Today, Arizona’s U.S. House Democrats passed yet another bill to lower the cost of prescription drugs, while Arizona’s Republican delegation sided with Big Pharma over Arizona families, voting against the measure to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices.”
“U.S. Reps. Ruben Gallego, Raúl Grijalva, Ann Kirkpatrick, Tom O’Halleran, and Greg Stanton, each voted to support the bill to lower prescription drug costs.”
“By contrast, GOP Reps. Debbie Lesko, Andy Biggs, and David Schweikert sided with their Big Pharma and corporate health care industry backers, each voting “no” on the Medicare price negotiation bill, even though the plan is expected to lower drug costs — and save Medicare $345 billion over the next decade. Rep. Paul Gosar did not vote.”
“The vote to lower the cost of prescription drugs comes as 1 in 4 Americans struggle to afford their medication, and while Congress has continued to let drug companies jack up prices, without consequences. In 2017, 26% of Arizona residents stopped taking their medication as prescribed due to cost, according to data from AARP and the Kaiser Family Foundation.”
“Too many Arizonans are forced to choose between their prescribed medication and buying food or paying a bill, while big pharmaceutical corporations make billions in annual profits,” said Arizona Democratic Party Chair Felecia Rotellini. “Arizona Democrats are fighting to lower the cost of prescription drugs and hold Big Pharma accountable. It’s disappointing to see Arizona Republicans yet again vote to protect their corporate industry donors’ profits, rather than standing up for Arizonans.”
The voters deserve public servants that will do the people’s business first.
If some of them do not comprehend that, voters can send them a message they will understand and not forget on November 3, 2020.
Featured Image from the New York Times