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How Can Members Of Congress Call Themselves Democrats While Opposing Lowering Drug Prices?

ALG Research primarily polls for conservative Democrats-- Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Tom O'Halleran (AZ), MJ Hegar, (TX) Carolyn Bourdeaux (GA), Joe Cunningham (SC), Collin Peterson (MN), Ron Kind (WI), Haley Stevens (MI), Pete Aguilar (CA), Gwen Graham (FL), Ami Bera (CA), Cindy Axne (IA), Scott Peters (CA), Charlie Crist (FL) Joe Donnelly (IN), Artur Davis (AL), Heath Shuler (NC), Bobby Bright (AL), basically the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. Yesterday, The Hill reported that in mid-September the firm, polling for a Biden-associated organization, surveyed registered voters in 13 states-- Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin + in some battleground congressional districts in Iowa, Oregon, New Jersey, Texas, Washington, Maine, Illinois, New Hampshire and Hawaii, (although Hawaii has no battleground congressional districts).

Most voters in the states and the congressional districts support Biden's Build Back Better proposals, including the popular issues that Manchin and Sinema in the Senate and the "Unbearable 9" led by Josh Gottheimer and Kurt Schrader in the Houses, like tuition-free community college, universal pre-K, and investments in public housing, climate change, lower priced prescription drugs and expansion of Medicare.

Overall, ALC found that 54% supportive of the plan as opposed to 43% who oppose it. Among independent voters 58% support and 37% oppose. "Voters interviewed for the poll were also asked about their support for a provision in the package that would allow the government to negotiate lower drug prices," wrote Aris Folley. "Sixty-five percent of those polled said the component makes them more likely to support the Democrats’ spending plan." The worst of the corrupt right-wing, anti-working class Democrats-- particularly Joe Manchin (WV), Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR), Scott Peters (New Dem-CA) and Kathleen Rice (New Dem-NY)-- are whining that they will torpedo the whole package if lower drug prices are included. Big PhRMA is already spending money to bolster the traitor Dems who the DCCC will never denounced never withdraw support from, not even when they have viable progressive opponents.

Bernie, who controls himself well in public, is apoplectic. Yesterday he sent a long letter explains his position to his followers. He began by talking about one of the biggest things conservatives have always fought to keep out of Medicare coverage-- hearing, dental, and vision-- although in the past, it's always been Republicans tanked the proposals for inclusion. Republican are still united against it but they don't have enough votes to tank it themselves. That's where bought out corrupt conservative Democrats Manchin, Sinema, Gottheimer, Cuellar, Schrader, etc come in. By the way, please consider helping banish Blue Dogs from Congress by clicking on the thermometer above and contributing what you can to these courageous progressive candidates taking them on in primaries.

"Maybe it is just me," wrote Bernie, "but I happen to believe in the radical notion that people should be able to grow old and hear their grandchildren, have teeth in their mouths, and be able to see the world around them. I happen to believe that in the richest country in the history of the world, our parents should be able to live out their lives in dignity and security. I also happen to believe that we can get this done now, and that it is exactly what the American people want. Poll after poll shows expanding Medicare to cover hearing, dental and vision is widely popular, strongly supported by Democrats, Independents and Republicans. A recent Morning Consult poll indicated that it had the support of 84 percent of all voters, including 79 percent of all Republicans."

This is a case where good policy makes good politics, and where good politics gets that good policy implemented.
Here's why we need to expand Medicare:
In America today hearing loss affects more than 40 percent of adults eligible for Medicare and has significant health impacts. Researchers at Johns Hopkins found that mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk. Moderate loss tripled risk, and people with severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia. In other words, people with hearing loss gradually lose contact with the world around them.
Seniors who experience hearing loss also suffer from more depression and loneliness and are often more socially isolated. And according to the National Council on Aging, increased hearing loss among seniors doubled the rate of falls and results in decreased mobility, ability to walk, and balance.
What’s more, hearing aids have evolved significantly since Medicare was signed. Today’s hearing aids are smaller, customized to an individual’s needs, and provide immediate relief.
Yet, in the richest country in the world, the outrageous reality is the 75 percent of seniors who suffer from hearing loss do not have a hearing aid because of the prohibitive cost.
That has got to change.
Vision loss is also a major health care problem for our nation’s seniors.
According to the CDC, “vision loss is associated with higher prevalence of chronic health conditions, death, falls and injuries, depression, and social isolation.” And seniors with moderate to severe vision loss were “more likely to report diabetes, heart disease, and stroke than those without vision loss.”
Approximately 1 in 3 people have some form of vision-reducing eye disease by the time they turn 65.
Yet Medicare still does not cover our seniors' vision needs well enough.
We simply cannot tolerate that any longer.
But it's not just hearing and vision. Even more problematic for seniors in this country is the outrageous cost of dental care and the fact that millions of older Americans cannot afford to visit a dentist's office.
The result: Incredibly, more than a quarter of senior citizens in this country are missing all of their natural teeth. And many without adequate dental care end up getting teeth extracted because it’s cheaper than getting a tooth properly treated.
Now tell me: how would you feel smiling and laughing or trying to talk to your friends when some or all of your teeth are missing?
A lack of dental care has significant health impacts as well. A lack of teeth means many of our seniors are unable to properly digest the food that they eat. It means greater risk of heart attack, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis and worsened diabetes.
Yet still, 55 years after the passage of Medicare, nearly two-thirds of our seniors have no dental insurance and no idea how they will afford to go to a dentist.
That is a disgrace, and it must end.
Now, I can hear many of my colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle and even some Democrats wailing: “But Bernie, how are we going to pay for it?”
I have good news for them.
Every American understands that we are paying, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.
In some instances we are paying ten times more for the same exact drugs people are able to buy in Canada.
Now, in every other major country on earth, governments negotiate prices with the drug companies.
In America, the Veterans Administration does it, too.
Only Medicare, because of the power of the pharmaceutical industry, is prohibited from taking this obvious step.
Now, this idea may not be popular among Republicans and some Democrats who accept obscene amounts of money in campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry, but it is extremely popular among the American people.
Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and bring down the cost of prescription drugs in this country is an idea that enjoys the support of 90 percent of the American people.
It is also an idea that would save us at least $500 billion — more than enough to cover the cost of dental, eyeglasses, and hearing under Medicare, as well as lowering the eligibility age to 62.
This is the very definition of a win-win-win situation.
Seniors pay lower prices for prescription drugs while receiving hearing, vision, and dental care while we lower prescription drug costs for all Americans.
It is insane to think that we have to fight for these obvious steps.
It is insane to think that any Democrat would oppose these common sense steps.
But here we are...and fight we must.
...What does it mean to age with dignity?
If you’re unable to hear your partner’s voice, or unable to see the world around you, or are made to live with severe dental pain — is that dignity?
Let us use this reconciliation bill to expand Medicare to cover hearing aids, dental care, and eyeglasses.

Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba is the Berniecrat running for the seat Blue Dog instigator Kurt Schrader has. "As usual," he told me, "Bernie's logic and decency are unassailable. It's hard to imagine that any decent person would disagree. Indeed the vast majority of Americans do agree. It's even harder to imagine that a democratic congressman would oppose such a beneficial action. But that's exactly what Kurt Schrader is doing. Kurt is more concerned with his personal stock in the pharmaceutical industry and big pharma's donations to his re-election campaign than he is with the lives of his constituents. It was one of the many reasons I ran against him two years ago. It's long past time that Americans pay the same thing the rest of the world does for their life saving drugs-- often 8 times less than what the industry charges hard working Americans and our elders that have worked all their lives and deserve a dignified retirement. It's time for Schrader to leave office, and I'll do my damndest to make that happen."

Tom Nelson, the progressive Wisconsin Senate candidate, was a 2020 Bernie delegate, so it's no surprise that he agrees with him on this. "Not since the Great Society have Democrats had such an opportunity to make generational change to our health system," he told me. "Think of the lives we could save with just one roll call vote. If you do not support these common sense health care reforms you don't belong in the US Senate."

Last night, the Blue America-endorsed progressive House candidate in Central New York, Steven Holden told me that he was "just on the phone today with a supporter and good friend of mine who has to pay $375 per month for her medication, and she is also a frontline caregiver. She was crying in that she had to make the decision between food and her life-saving medicine. My brother-in-law can afford his immunodeficiency medication only if he participates in experimental clinical trials. If not, it will cost him almost $30k. This is insane. I agree with Bernie, like I do on most if not all issues, that this is not a partisan issue, this is a human issue. I spoke with a caregiver in Wayne County in my district and she asked what I was going to do about this, and it was the same question that my brother-in-law and my friend had. First, the Federal Government needs to have the ability to negotiate for lower drug prices. Second, we need to remove block grants to states, which the GOP and the Republican Wing of the Democratic Party want, which allows states to do whatever they want with the money. I would replace those grants with cooperative agreements, which allow extensive Federal oversight of the program and rigid reporting standards. Next, I would require DoD to replace 10% of their cost reimbursement contracts with firm, fixed-price contracts which would save taxpayers more than $3 Billion annually. When I told that caregiver in Wayne County this, she started crying and said 'God bless you, Steve.' If we go back to the model used from 1950 through 1980, which was the greatest economic expansion in American history, we can fund Bernie’s plan, which not only will I support, but I will sponsor or cosponsor when I get to DC. John Katko gets most of his funding from Big PhRMA and has no interest in changing the system to something to benefit his constituents, yet alone the country writ large. 'Million Dollar Fran' Conole either has no relevant or coherent plan, or has no plan to pay for it, as he supports the military-industrial complex. He’ll do that, or just copy-paste whatever my plan is."

Also last night Missouri progressive Lucas Kunce said that "In Missouri, I'm running against career criminals. There's the former governor who assaulted his mistress. There's the attorney general who sold Missouri's land to China. And then there's the mansion man who aimed his gun at protesters. I'm the Marine veteran who's running against these criminals. You know why? Because I want to fundamentally change who has power in this country. And those criminals should never have power again. The people who should have power are everyday working people. They're the people from my hometown that helped my family out when we went bankrupt after my sister was born with a heart condition. They're the Marines in my unit who saved my life countless times. I'm running this race to be a warrior for working people, fighting against the very elites who put power and profit over the rest of us."

Challenger Chris Preece wants to build back better. His opponent, Republican incumbent, Andy Barr, doesn't. In fact, Barr wants to go in the other direction. "Our current Congressman for Kentucky's 6th, Andy Barr, would have America believe that our healthcare system needs to roll back the ACA, and shrink the budget for Medicare and Medicaid. He is being paid to say that by big Pharma so they can continue to price gouge the American people and continue making record profits off of us, while other countries have stood up to them and told them what they will pay. America can and should do this as well. I, Chirs Preece, am here to tell Congressman Barr to go home, because we need someone who will listen to the needs of the American people, and make common sense laws to protect and serve all the folks of our great Nation by supporting bills that will make healthcare more accessible for all of us. I have older family members that are having to do without medicine, teeth, and other services because they are too expensive and they live on a fixed income. This ain't right. Andy Barr won't stand up for them, but I will." If you'd like to help the House candidates running on platforms to get this done... well, that's why I included the 2022 congressional thermometer above. You can click it and contribute what you'd like to Chris and the other House candidates.

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