I am taking a one week break from my travel photo diaries to write about a meeting I had today with my congresswoman’s office. If you are looking for the continuation of those diaries, tune in next week.
A few weeks ago, my congresswoman, who sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee, was one of the three Dems to vote against the proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices. When I found out, I quickly sent off an email to my contact in her office explaining my feelings regarding her vote and requesting a phone meeting. I wanted to both expand on my email and find out why she chose to vote no. With all the support I have received from her and her office on the health and disability related matters that are priorities for me and my community, I was pretty shocked she voted no on such an important part of the BBB Act.
This morning I had that phone meeting. I began by reiterating the points from my email regarding how the pharmaceutical industry consistently lies and obfuscates regarding how much money they actually spend on R&D vs money spent on salaries, advertising, and stock buybacks and how much of their drug R&D comes from either direct NIH research or NIH funded research through university systems rather than from direct company research. I also touched on how they manipulate patent laws to keep generic drugs off the market.
It was clear from our conversation he and I agree on all those points. He also volunteered information about clearly deceptive pharma lobbyists are when he meets with them and how difficult it can be to have to listen to them lie to his face. It was nice to know there are people working on the Hill who do know what the reality is.
When I asked specifically why she voted no on the provision during the committee markup, he said she was concerned about making sure the final bill would pass through the Senate. He specifically named Sens Manchin and Sinema and the fact they were both against the House provision as it was written in the Energy and Commerce Committee and felt having it in could doom the whole agenda. The staffer has never been anything but honest with me, so I have no reason to disbelieve his explanation. I did reply that I felt it was a bit of a cop-out on her part. Why wouldn’t she want to push for the strongest bill possible knowing it could always be amended on the floor if necessary.
He also mentioned she was drafting a provision regarding prescription drug deductibles called smoothing. Basically this would allow seniors, and I am assuming anyone else covered by Medicare Part D, to spread the costs of the deductible (ranging from $2-3K) over 12 months instead of it being paid upfront. I said that could be very helpful to people on fixed incomes.
After the discussion, I asked about the status of a couple of bills moving through Congress we had discussed earlier this year. He said he would look into those and get back to me. He also said to please reach to him if I had any other concerns or topics I wanted to discuss. I thanked him for his time and help and we hung up.
While I was still a little leery about why she voted no on the provision in committee, I left the call feeling she will support whatever final bill hits the floor and is all in in getting Biden’s agenda passed and signed.
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I believe this comment needs a wider audience. Proud momma Nancy Jones.
[ed note: comment was submitted yesterday afternoon but for some reason was not included last night. I feel it deserves recognition.]
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