Notes From The Capital: July 2019

Continuing the Fight to Drive Down Insulin Prices
This month I met Travis, a man from Eveleth, Minnesota, who showed me two vials of insulin. He told me he paid $27 for one vial, and $350 for the other vial. Same insulin, same manufacturer. The difference? The cheaper vial was bought in Canada while the more expensive one was bought in the United States. Completely ludicrous.

I recently introduced a bipartisan bill to provide insulin on an emergency basis and put insulin manufacturers on the hook by requiring drug companies to foot the bill. It will also promote market competition to drive down the price and hold manufacturers accountable by penalizing them if they price gouge on insulin.

To the greedy practice of wielding market power to continually increase prices and make billions off a drug that has been around for nearly a century, my bill says no more. The bill has the support of Republican Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, and I will be working to get more colleagues on board so we can start providing relief to patients.

Learn more here.

Making Sure Workers Get the Pensions They’ve Earned
During my first week as U.S. Senator, I met a woman named Vicki from Duluth who told me that she retired early to take care of her husband who had Parkinson’s Disease. She was counting on her pension to help support her during that time. But now–because the pension plan she paid into over many years is threatened–she’s worried about making ends meet. 

It’s outrageous that more than 22,000 retirees in Minnesota enrolled in the Central States pension plan, and numerous Minnesotans in other underfunded plans, could face a significant loss to their pensions if we don’t find a fix. After years of work, Minnesotans who paid into a pension deserve to retire with peace of mind that their retirement is secure.

So this month I helped introduce legislation to shore up troubled pension funds. Thousands of Minnesotans are in retirement limbo, and the effect of a pension plan failure could extend far beyond retirees and hurt families, businesses, and communities. I’m fighting to protect the pensions of retirees in Minnesota and across the country.

Learn more here.

Improving Access to Health Care for New and Expecting Moms
New and expecting moms should be able to get quality health care no matter where they live. But right now some women–particularly those who live in rural areas–are driving hours just to get to a hospital that provides labor and delivery services. Yvette, a mom who lives outside of Grand Marais, and her husband had to drive to Duluth at 1 a.m. in a blizzard to deliver her son Zein. The drive took four hours.  

The lack of care for new and expecting moms is a particularly striking issue in rural America, and it’s one that discriminates. Approximately half of U.S. rural counties don’t have a hospital in which women can give birth. And rural counties with more black residents are at greater risk of losing their labor and delivery services. That’s unacceptable. 

I recently introduced a bipartisan bill to help address this problem. My bill would support training for medical professionals to provide maternal care services in rural community-based settings. It would provide grants to develop innovative solutions to improve maternal care in rural America, and expand on already existing ideas that work, like telehealth services. And it would direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect maternal mortality and morbidity data so we can get to the root of the problem. This bill will bring much-needed justice to maternal health in Minnesota and nationwide.

Learn more here.

Establishing Financial Protections for Seniors Who Care For Their Loved Ones
When you’re caring for a loved one around-the-clock and serving as your spouse’s support system, you’ve probably already worried about how to make ends meet. You shouldn’t have to worry about your savings completely drying up.

This month I teamed up with some of my Senate colleagues to ensure that married couples in Minnesota and across country can avoid depleting savings when caring for their spouses. Our bill would permanently ensure that they’re are able to access home- and community-based Medicaid services without having to blow through their savings.

Two decades ago, Congress came together to establish these protections. But without our bill, these protections are set to expire at the end of this year, leaving many Seniors with no support. Congress needs to pass this bill so families can stay together and get the care they need while being surrounded by the people they love.

Learn more here.