Government

Democrats highlight Abby Finkenauer's vote to lower prescription drug costs

Rep. Abby Finkenauer waves as she arrives Nov. 2 during the Finkenauer Fish Fry at the Hawkeye Downs Expo Center in Ceda
Rep. Abby Finkenauer waves as she arrives Nov. 2 during the Finkenauer Fish Fry at the Hawkeye Downs Expo Center in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Democratic campaign committee is launching a “significant” digital ad buy touting Iowa 1st District Rep. Abby Finkenauer’s vote for legislation to lower prescription drug costs.

“Seniors and working families are demanding action to lower out-of-control prescription drug costs and Rep. Abby Finkenauer is fighting for their priorities,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Brooke Goren said in announcing the ad.

The DCCC on Thursday also took a shot at one of Finkenauer’s potential GOP challengers, eliciting a countercharge of hypocrisy.

Finkenauer, a freshman who flipped a GOP-held district in 2018, is among 44 Democrats in the DCCC’s Frontline Program to protect the party’s most vulnerable House incumbents.

In announcing the spending — no dollar amount was disclosed — the DCCC said the targeted ad buy “is a reminder that while Rep. Finkenauer continues to put the priorities of Iowans first, Washington Republicans once again showed they will always prioritize padding the pockets of their special interest backers over the people they were elected to represent.”

Finkenauer was one of 106 co-sponsors of House Resolution 3 — the Lower Drug Costs Now Act — which passed the House on Thursday on a vote of 230-192, with only two Republicans voting for it. It includes provisions to create vision, dental and hearing benefits and caps out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that HR 3 would lower domestic drug prices and save at least $345 billion — about $1,920 for a family of four.

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President Donald Trump has said he would veto the bill, and it is not likely to advance in the GOP-controlled Senate. Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, are encouraging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring their bipartisan proposal for lowering drug costs to the floor for a vote.

In the 1st District, Finkenauer said 126,875 people are enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan and 574,173 are enrolled in private health insurance.

In announcing the ad buy, the DCCC was critical of state Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, saying she has “thousands of dollars” invested in drug companies. Her campaign said Hinson’s investment in a pharmaceutical company developing an alternative to opioids is closer to $1,000 than “thousands.”

“While Abby Finkenauer has accomplished nothing in Congress but pushing to impeach President Trump, Ashley Hinson has spent her career in public service fighting to lower health care costs for Iowa families,” Hinson campaign manager Jimmy Peacock said. “Any suggestion to the contrary is preposterous. This dishonest attack is especially hypocritical coming from the DCCC, which is actually funded by Big Pharma.”

He referred to 17 contributions ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 to the DCCC this year from pharmaceutical companies.

Hinson, a two-term state legislator and former television news anchor, and Decorah businessman and farmer Thomas Hansen are running for the Republican nomination to face Finkenauer.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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