Maybe it’s better when Congressman Gianforte doesn’t come to work after all. On Thursday, given the opportunity to rein in massive drug costs and help consumers—both those on Medicare and those who are not—pay more reasonable prices for the prescription drugs.
And, of course, Gianforte, who has voted for critical issues like measures protecting the suffering owners of private jets, voted no.
The bill’s aims were clear:
The bill, known as H.R. 3 — a numerical designation that reflects its position on Democrats’ priority list — would make significant changes to the federal Medicare program, which provides health coverage to older Americans. It passed largely on party lines, 230 to 192, and includes provisions to create new vision, dental and hearing benefits, and caps out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000.
The Congressional Budget Office and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services conclude that H.R. 3 “would result in hundreds of billions of dollars in savings for Medicare enrollees, Medicaid, and American households generally.”
As Vox points out, the bill Gianforte voted against would not only save $450 billion over a decade, but expand dental, vision, and hearing coverage for Medicare recipients:
This bill, also known as H.R.3, the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, would dramatically change the power that the US government has to directly negotiate drug prices for Medicare recipients — resulting in more than $450 billion in spending reductions for the program over the course of a decade. These savings would be offset, in part, by costs tied to expanding dental, vision and hearing coverage for Medicare recipients, a policy change also included in the bill, according to an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.
By overturning a 2003 policy change that prevents the government from negotiating over drugs covered by Medicare, the Democratic bill would leverage the size of the Medicare program to compel drug companies to reduce prices and penalize companies that refuse to participate, a win for everyone other than Big Pharma. In fact, the bill caps the negotiated prices of drugs to levels much closer to those of other countries:
The negotiated price can’t be higher than 120% of the average cost for the given drug in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom. For drugs not sold in those countries, there’s an alternative formula based on their average wholesale prices in the U.S.
Notably, the measure Gianforte voted against specifically singles out insulin, a drug that has risen so dramatically in cost in recent years that almost half of people have resorted to reducing their dosage or even skipping it altogether:
Costs continue to rise, so much so that almost half of people with diabetes have temporarily skipped taking their insulin, according to a 2018 survey by UpWell Health, a Salt Lake City company that provides home delivery of medications and supplies for chronic conditions.
This vote is everything you need to know about Congressman Gianforte: while he’ll rail against the high prices of drugs and pretend to be concerned about Medicare, he’s not willing to demand that pharmaceutical companies that made billions in profits while patients who can’t afford drugs died negotiate fairly with the American people and keep the cost of prescription drugs just a tiny bit more manageable.
Given the chance to reduce the government’s debt, put more money in the pockets of Americans, and even keep some of them alive, Gianforte voted to line the pockets of companies making obscene profits.
It would be wrong in this instance, however, to say that Gianforte can’t be trusted. He can absolutely be trusted to always put profit above people and corporate health above ours.