Rx: At Huntley Debate All Candidates “Blew It” on Prescription Drugs Question *Updated with brief summary of controversial portion of H.R. 3*

The Sun City debate in Huntley is now in the books.

Six of the seven candidates in the 14th congressional district debated for nearly two hours.

Ted Gradel did not participate.

The debate was recorded on video, and as soon as the video is released to the public, an open thread will be published here on McHenry County Blog.

But one question stood out on Monday night that all of the candidates failed to show they are ready for Congresswoman Lauren Underwood in a fall campaign, and one of the seven candidates will be the nominee in two weeks.

The question was on prescription drug prices and was 3-part paraphrased below:

  • Do you favor legislation to import prescription drugs
  • Do you favor legislation that will keep prescription drug prices capped at prices foreign countries pay?
  • Do you have any other solutions you favor?

The opportunity missed, to varying degrees by all of the candidates, was to successfully defend President Trump, tout his leadership and record on the important issue of prescription drugs and expose the fallacy of the Democrats and their H.R. 3, “Lower Prescription Drug Prices Now Act” that passed the House on a partisan vote in December.

Brief refresher, H.R. 3 is the House Democrats’ cornerstone legislation to combat the high price of prescription drugs. While an 8-part plan, the key component is the following, as taken from the bill summary on congress.gov:


The bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate prices for certain drugs. (Under current law, HHS may not negotiate the prices of covered drugs under the Medicare prescription drug benefit.)

Specifically, HHS must negotiate maximum prices for

(1) insulin products;

(2) with respect to FY2023, at least 25 single-source, brand-name drugs that do not have generic competition and that are among either the 125 drugs that account for the greatest national spending or the 125 drugs that account for the greatest spending under the Medicare prescription drug benefit and Medicare Advantage (MA);

(3) beginning in FY2024, at least 50 such single-source, brand-name drugs; and (4) newly approved single-source, brand-name drugs that meet or exceed a specified price threshold and that HHS determines are likely to meet the spending criteria. The negotiated prices must be offered under Medicare and MA and may also be offered under private health insurance unless the insurer opts out.

The negotiated maximum price may not exceed (1) 120% of the average price in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom; or (2) if such information is not available, 85% of the U.S. average manufacturer price.

Drug manufacturers that fail to comply with the bill’s negotiation requirements are subject to civil and tax penalties.

Source: Congress.gov, bill summary of Title I of H.R. 3

The second bulletpoint in the question from last night’s forum was an indirect references to H.R. 3, but judging by the candidates’ responses, no one caught it.

Let’s remember what President Trump said at the State of the Union (SOTU) concerning prescription drugs, which none of the candidates brought up in their responses:

Leave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s smirking and mouthing aside, but no one at the debate brought up what the House Democrats, including Underwood, thought about the President’s work with Senator Chuck Grassley (R, IA), but chanted “H R 3” while waving three fingers in the air.

Senator Grassley is the sponsor of S. 2543, which is the Republican alternative to H.R. 3, and does not include the controversial “negotiation” component, which is really government price controls.

The strategy on prescription drug prices in 2020 is for the Senate to pass S. 2543, and the House-Senate Conference Committee will resolve differencess in the competing legislation.

While President Trump did not mention prescription drug reimportation at the SOTU, his administration has done the following on reimportation and the cost of insulin:

With these key facts’ links, which were published here on McHenry County Blog late last year, reviewing each candidate’s response is next. While it is recognized the candidates only had 1 minute, 15 seconds to respond to the question, they could have and should have done better than what they did.

With all the background information, let’s see what the candidates did say in the order they said it:

  • Jim Oberweis, supports legislation for reimportation, though none is needed given the President’s announcement in December. Brought up how he campaigned on this issue back in 2004.
  • Anthony Catella, expanded the topic to include health insurance, and asked if pharmaceuticals value “health vs. wealth”
  • Jerry Evans, stayed on the health insurance track Catella diverted to, said he would change FDA approval process to expedite new meds to market. Evans has the most detailed policy position on prescription drugs, but did not use it on the prescription drugs question
  • Catalina Lauf, agreed with Evans about too much regulation of prescription drugs, mentioned wanting to incentive to pharmaceutical companies to keep prices down
  • James Marter, stayed on the health insurance track Catella and Evans talked, and did not answer any of the questions specifically in reference to prescription drug prices
  • Sue Rezin, discussed the “gag order” about pharmacists cannot voluntarily share with consumers coupons/savings with customers, and said she’s currently working with AARP to get more generics to market. The Daily Herald report of the debate pointed out the “gag order” rules were eliminated by President Trump.

When the video of Monday’s debate is published, viewers can judge for themselves how the candidates did on this question.

But as published on McHenry County Blog late last year, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) did state healthcare and prescription drugs prices will be the main Democratic initiatives to protect vulnerable freshman Democrats like Lauren Underwood on their impeachment votes.

Given how all of the candidates “whiffed” on this important question tonight in light of President Trump’s successes and the overreaching Democratic legislation H.R. 3, whichever Republican wins the nomination in two weeks will really need to prepare themselves for the fall campaign against Underwood, who will emphasize her “as a nurse” experience to help patients up until the November 3 election.

External link to Daily Herald coverage of Monday’s debate:


Rx: At Huntley Debate All Candidates “Blew It” on Prescription Drugs Question *Updated with brief summary of controversial portion of H.R. 3* — 7 Comments

  1. Government price controls do not work.

    Let the private insurance companies form a purchasing Consortium. And negotiate directly with the drug companies.

    Let the drug companies sell prepackaged monthly and quarterly dosage quantities.

    Private insurance companies operate Medicare and Medicaid on behalf of CMS. Let them also negotiate.

    Contrary to popular belief, the government does not run Medicare and Medicaid on a day-to-day basis.

    They administer it but the insurance companies operate Medicare and Medicaid.

  2. Shows what a college education does…..

    NO one did their homework.

  3. Mr Lopez, You should be a Paid Political Consultant–you just positioned a solid attack point against Underwood and her Nurse hat wearing commercial claiming a Prescription Price victory, for whomever wins this Republican Nomination.

    Just the term “Prescription Drug Prices” from now on by Underwood should trigger a direct attack response that includes the Govt involved in Pricing, and what President Trump has done to drive the whole Prescription Price topic.

    Maybe in defense of these candidates, right now they have been focusing on beating each other, instead of Underwood claims and Dem talking points–they also were speaking at an Over 55 Housing Community and should have been keen on their audiences interests (Drug Prices) but whomever wins the nomination needs to come hard after Underwood on this topic.

    Its the only thing she can put her Fake Nurses hat on, aside from an earlier week announcement of Socialist gibberish she’s promising along the lines of the usual Democratic clap trap–Free stuff, Jobs for Women plans, with no real meat how to get either.

    Thank you for calling this out, I’m sure the candidates or their staff read this Blog—take a note from Mr Lopez.

  4. Wow, thank you for the props Mr. Bob Wire and MsTrumpion. Thank you.

    I try to do God’s will and last fall, on the issue of prescription drug prices shortly after Congresswoman Lauren Underwood published her 5-point plan to lower prescription drug prices on October 18, I felt God’s prompting, though I was told to wait a month before writing on the topic, to see if any of the 14th district Republican candidates jumped all over Underwood’s plan during her high profile media tour into early November.

    None did.

    And to date, only Jerry Evans has provided some detail on prescription drugs in his healthcare position paper.

    So from mid November forward, including attending and participating with the Prescription Drug Roundtable by Congressman Sean Casten and research published here on the blog, I’ve been guided to help candidates and blog readers to learn the whole truth about prescription drugs, and the truth President Trump has significantly accomplished several things.

    Just last night, a congressional candidate in Virginia where the congressional primaries are June 9, was asked the same question that the 14th district candidates asked on Monday night.

    He did worse than the 14th district candidates.

    I plan to reach out to him and direct him to articles on the blog.

    It’s up to them if they will do the due diligence.

    And the freshman Democrat he and a large primary field wants to challenge in November is Abigail Spanberger, someone who can genuinely point to metrics and claim to be “right in the middle”, given her UCLA-Voteview rating.

    Spanberger is really going to be tough to beat.

    Right now, the coronavirus is, as it should be, the higher priority for the President and HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

    But behind the scenes, the reimportation plan is being implemented as announced in December.

    And Republicans cannot let Lauren Underwood and the Democrats steal accomplishments of the President, and try to make it solely their own.

    We’ll get the message out, and if God’s will is to continue writing on the blog post-primary, than His will be done.

    Please keep praying for our country, and for the truth to be told.

    Mr. Bob Wire, I understand your defense of the candidates, but I have a different take.

    Stand out on your stance on the issues, and demonstrate you are ready for the fall campaign with sensible solutions to the biggest problems facing the nation the Congress must solve, and that wins the nomination.

    Either way, a nominee will win the Republican primary in less than two weeks, and will pray to God for the right man or woman to be nominated for the fall.

    Maybe we all should pray to the One who is in control of everything.

  5. I’m troubled that in a field of seven people, including two state senators, these candidates “blew it” and are being told they need to listen to a blogger to learn how to talk about health care policy.

    Shouldn’t they have developed better talking points of their own by now?

    This is Underwood’s key issue — having a coherent alternative message to hers is kind of important.

  6. As Republican losers, they have a lemminglike desire to lose. Yes, they blew it. But this is the 876th time!

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