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GOP senator hits Congress for high drug prices but offers no solutions

Arizona Sen. Martha McSally has not sponsored or cosponsored any legislation to reduce the costs of prescription drugs.

By Dan Desai Martin - February 03, 2020
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Sen. Martha McSally

Last week, Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) demanded a quick acquittal in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial so lawmakers could focus on issues like lowering prescription drug costs.

“I have heard enough. It is time to vote,” McSally tweeted on Wednesday. Days later she voted against hearing from additional witnesses, demanding the chamber “return its focus to the priorities of the American people like lowering the cost of prescription drugs.”

But there is no evidence McSally has supported any proposal to address the problem of high prescription drug costs, nor that she has a plan to tackle the issue herself.

A search of health care legislation in the the congressional database shows McSally has only sponsored four bills related to health care, and none of them have dealt with prescription drug prices. A search of the same database turns up 26 health care-related bills that McSally publicly supports, but none of those focus on lowering the cost of prescription drugs either.

McSally has also declined to back bipartisan legislation on the issue.

In August 2019, McSally refused to publicly support the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019, according to the Arizona Republic. At the time, she claimed she was still “studying the bill” and was “trying to provide some constructive feedback.”

That bill passed out of the Senate Finance Committee with support from Republicans and Democrats, but has since stalled alongside most other legislation being blocked by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McSally spoke at an Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association conference just months after those comments and lamented that her constituents were “tired of high out-of-pocket health care costs” and needed solutions.

In December, the House of Representatives passed a sweeping prescription drug bill that would lower the costs of hundreds of medications, some by as much as 96%. Shortly after that bill passed, Reginald Ballantyne, the former Chairman of the American Hospital Association, wrote an op-ed in the Arizona Capitol Times urging McSally to not only support the House-passed bill, but “spearhead this bill in the Senate.”

Thus far, McSally has not done so.

McSally’s office did not respond to three separate requests for comments on the matter, specifically questions about what, if any, legislation McSally supports to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and whether or not she supported the House-passed legislation.

Brad Bainum, spokesperson for the Arizona Democratic Party, claimed this week that McSally’s contradictory behavior was “just another reason why Arizonans can’t trust [her].”

“In refusing to support pricing reforms like letting Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices, Martha McSally is siding with her big pharma backers and corporate donors rather than standing up for Arizonans,” Bainum said in an email.

McSally’s voting record on health care in general shows a desire to reduce the number of people with health insurance, while also eroding protections for people with preexisting conditions.

When she was in the House of Representatives, McSally voted for a GOP-backed health care bill that would have forced 23 million people to lose their health insurance.

As a senator, McSally backed a health care bill purportedly to protect people with preexisting conditions, but experts told the New York Times that the bill contained loopholes that would allow for discrimination against them.

McSally joins a growing list of Republican senators accusing Democrats of wasting time on impeachment rather than addressing topics important to the American public. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has also said he wants to end the impeachment trial so he can open investigations into those who accused Trump of wrongdoing.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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