Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, January 24th

Friday, January 24th

Trump promises kept on Rx reform? More like promises broken

The president has ignored the soaring cost of prescription drugs, while Gov. Evers is pushing the Wisconsin legislature to tackle Big Pharma’s price gouging.

By: Robert Kraig

This piece first ran in the Wisconsin Examiner

Photo by: Circe Denyer

As the Democratic candidates for president sparred in Iowa this week, it was inspiring to hear some bold ideas on a topic where solutions are long overdue: the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. While progressives may differ in the specifics, they all clearly recognize that  that voters want real answers and real action on a matter that can, for some, be one of life or death.

National data show one in four people with diabetes skip or ration insulin because of cost. This practice comes as little surprise when the price of some varieties insulin has increased by more than 17.5% per year from 2012 to 2017. Less than one month into 2020, drug corporations have already hiked the price of prescription medicines by an average of 5% — over twice the current rate of inflation. When high prices force patients to ration their medicine, the consequences are clear: Their conditions worsen, and some even pay with their lives.

Meanwhile pharmaceutical companies like Eli Lilly — the nation’s largest insulin producer — continue to reap billions of dollars in revenue. In 2018 alone, Eli Lilly brought in $9 billion in revenue from their diabetes medications.

Rather than taking action to stop this assault on patients, Pres.Donald Trump has rewarded bad behavior by giving Big Pharma billions in tax breaks.  Eli Lilly paid $0 in federal taxes in 2018 thanks to Trump and the Republicans’ 2017 tax law.

Ever since he began on the campaign trail, Trump has vowed to go after pharmaceutical companies and lower drug costs. But at every turn, he’s given in to Big Pharma, allowing them to continue hiking prices unchecked. The result is a mish-mash of tweaks and half-measures that protect the drug corporations’ power to set and keep prices high.

Consider Trump’s latest proposal to import cheaper medicines from Canada, which has been roundly criticized on both sides of the border — including by former administration officials themselves. Chris Meekins, who worked in the Department of Health and Human Services under Trump and now monitors drug prices in the private sector, pulled no punches in his assessment of whether the plan will provide meaningful relief from high costs: “If you put Canadian drugs on a dogsled and pointed it in the direction of Florida, the dogs would arrive long before any drugs through this regulatory proposal.”

This proposal, like his others, will do nothing to fix the fundamentally flawed system that enables drug corporations to maximize profits at will by granting them monopoly power to raise prices.

Badger state residents fighting cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure and other serious conditions can expect spikes up to 7% on the drugs they need to survive.

As anyone on a budget knows, when out-of-pocket and co-pays go up, something has to give. Paying for life-saving treatments or incurring medical debt and forgoing such basics as food and rent is not much of a choice.

Rx Wisconsin

Here in Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers has made lowering drug prices a state priority, and he appointed a commission to study the topic earlier this fall. Citizen Action worked with Evers during his campaign on a plan that would go a long way toward addressing the major problems in our prescription drug system.

During Wednesday evening’s State of the State address, Evers took an important first step in prescription drug reform, asking the Legislature to enact a cap on insulin prices before the end of the current session.

But even the best action at the state level cannot do the work of comprehensive, national reform — not when Big Pharma can keep on racking up the profits without any check on their power. Not when patients still find hundreds of widely-used medicines further and further out of their reach. And not when taxpayers continue to fund research and development, while pharmaceutical corporations keep using those investments to pad their bottom line at our expense.

If President Trump were serious about keeping his promises on lowering drug costs, he would take action on HR 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Prices Now Act, which passed the House of Representatives in December. Instead, after initially supporting negotiations, Trump has now refused to support the policy, joining Republican leaders in the Senate to stall any progress.

As progressives, we must do better. We must demand candidates answer the question of how they will lower the cost of prescription medications so many people depend on. And we must hold our elected leaders accountable to the promise of meaningful, comprehensive reform. Because everyone in America deserves access to affordable prescription drugs, no matter where they live, what they look like or what’s in their wallets.

Governor Evers Mentions North Central WI Co-op Member Hans Breitenmoser in His State of the State Address

Photo: Katie Rosenberg

Lincoln County Board Supervisor, Dairy Farmer, and Co-op member Hans Breitenmoser got a huge shout out from Gov. Tony Evers during his State of the State Address on Wednesday night. Hans was recognized by the governor for his grassroots efforts to end partisan gerrymandering and get non partisan redistricting legislation passed in Wisconsin.

Hans became a Co-op member of the NC Organizing Co-op in 2017.

Han’s helped develop and introduce a resolution at the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors to support nonpartisan redistricting. Hans worked tirelessly, not only to get a resolution passed at the Board, but he eventually organized to get a referendum on the ballot enabling Lincoln County voters to  weigh in on the Fair Maps issue. Nearly 70% voted yes for the referendum

Hans also worked with the Fair Maps Coalition, as well as members of the NC, NE and Western WI Organizing Co-ops, to develop a streamlined process for other counties to pass resolutions all over the State! You can see the toolkit that he helped to create here.

We are so grateful to call Hans a Co-op member, and stand in awe of all of the great work that he and his family do. Thank you for your leadership Hans, and thank you for your support of the NC Organizing Co-op!

Driftless Region co-op members celebrate the anniversary of Roe v Wade by volunteering for Planned Parenthood

The Supreme Court gave women control over their own bodies and guaranteed the right to choose with its ruling on Roe v Wade on January 22 1973.  Several Citizen Action of Wisconsin celebrated the anniversary by volunteering with Planned Parenthood in La Crosse.  Members Lewis Kuhlman, Amy Dummer, Chris Haskell, and Wyatt Molling were on hand with Citizen Action of Wisconsin organizer Ben Wilson and Planned Parenthood Organizer Marie Lindberg for a day of action at Pearl Street Book to mark the anniversary.  Members helped gather signatures and pledge cards, recruit future volunteers and promote safer sex. Over 100 signatures were collected and 7 new volunteers signed up to help with future events.

Throughout America women’s body anonymity and access to family planning is under attack.  States from coast to coast have tried to pass laws limiting a woman’s right to choose. Planned Parenthood is committed to standing up for women everywhere to be able to have control over their own futures.  Planned Parenthood needs your help. To get plugged into local Planned Parenthood events in the area please contact Marie Lindberg at [email protected] or check out Planned Parenthood’s local event calendar right here.

Healthcare Co-op travels to Madison to demand progress in 2020

Representatives Chris Taylor and Christine Sinicki took part in a press conference with Citizen Action members Dr. Laurel Mark and Amy Washburn to call out all the progress in healthcare that passed us by in 2019.  BadgerCare Expansion, RX Drug Reform, state level ACA protections are all within reach at the state level. These reforms would have the ability to transform people’s lives almost immediately, yet the Wisconsin State Republican’s continue to ignore the needs of the people. The co-op also brought a “storybook” of healthcare stories which feature individuals and their struggles with the current healthcare system. These are real people behind the statistics.  We need to keep demanding that 2020 be a year of progress and to put partisan bickering aside for the health of Wisconsin.

Canvass for Milwaukee Public Schools Referendum, Saturday, January 25th

NEW Bay View Community Center location

Vote Yes for MPS coalition, which includes Citizen Action of Wisconsin, is canvassing in support of the April 7th referendum this Saturday, Jan 25th, 10am – 1pm & Noon – 3pm. Canvassers can meet at the MTEA office, 5130 W. Vliet. or the Bay View Community Center, 1320 East Oklahoma Ave

Attend 7th District Congressional Candidate Forum Wednesday, January 29th in Wasuau 

Participate in our endorsement process

This Wednesday, January 29th, at 6 pm sharp, Citizen Action is hosting a forum featuring the Democratic candidates for the 7th Congressional District. Tricia Zunker will appear at 6pm and Lawrence Dale will be at 7pm. The event will be at the Wausau Labor Temple.

Co-op members and/or allies will be asking a series of 3-5 questions of each candidate, and then each candidate will have time to give their closing statement. Questions will be based off of the Citizen Action of Wisconsin Progressive Platform, created by Co-op members and Board Members all across the State.

You can begin arriving at 5:30. If you require handicapped parking, it is behind the Labor Temple, on 4th Avenue. We will be asking all attendees to complete a survey as to whether or not we should endorse in this race, and if so, who they would like to see us endorse. Come help us make a decision!

We will be located at the Wausau Labor Temple, at 318 S. 3rd Avenue, in the Upper Level. We will start at 6 pm sharp, and try our best to end at 8 pm sharp. Hope to see you there! You can either RSVP here on Facebook, email Organizer Joel Lewis at [email protected], or call him at 715-551-2525

Citizen Grassroots Lobbying training in La Crosse Feb 8th

Citizen Action of Wisconsin is committed to making sure that your voice is heard in local, state and national politics. Please join Citizen Action of Wisconsin for an important training session on how to meet with elected leaders and make your voice heard on issues that matter to you! You can make a huge difference in what bills get passed just by meeting with local lawmakers. Join us for a day of training so that you can help pressure elected leaders to vote in support of expanding healthcare and fighting climate change.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin deputy director Matt Brusky and Movement Politics director JoAnna Bautch will be leading the training workshop. Co-op members will be on hand to present about important bills working their way through the state senate and county boards. These bills will have a huge impact on healthcare and climate change in Wisconsin and we want to make sure you have the tools and training to make a difference!

This training will take place on February 8th at 11:00 AM at the Southside Public Library in La Crosse (1307 16th st s La Crosse WI).   Please RSVP for this event here.

“Coffee with your co-op” in  La Crosse with State Senate candidate Joni Anderson

Citizen Action of Wisconsin Driftless Co-op will be hosting monthly, informal coffee get-togethers throughout the year, called “Coffee with your Co-op.” These events will be a great chance to get to know fellow activists, talk about issues that matter, talk strategy for the year and grab coffee with amazing, passionate activists!

We will be hosting events in both La Crosse and Viroqua.  Members are invited to both meetings. Please feel free to invite any family or friends that are interested in creating a better Wisconsin!

Special guest State Senate candidate Joni Anderson will be joining us in La Crosse on Feb 22nd. Joni is running for Senate District 14 and she is excited to get to know Citizen Action members from the La Crosse area.  She will be visiting us for a Viroqua meeting in the near future as well

RSVP and join us (and State Senate Candidate Joni Anderson) February 22nd, 12:00 PM JavaVino 2311 State Rd La Crosse WI

Volunteer to help Sanders and Warren campaigns

Citizen Action of Wisconsin is a member of two national networks that have endorsed candidates for President. People’s Action, announced it’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders in December and the Working Families Party endorsed Elizabeth Warner in the Fall of 2019.

As part of the People’s Action process, Citizen Action surveyed its members and nearly 80% of members supported Warren or Sanders. Citizen Action’s Board has decided to not endorse at this time. However, we are supporting our members’ high levels of support for both candidates by encouraging members to get involved in either campaign.

Volunteer with the Sanders’ Campaign. The campaign has numerous events throughout Wisconsin!

Barnstorming for Elizabeth Warren in Milwaukee, Monday, January 27th, 6pm 

This barnstorm meeting will be a large-scale voter engagement training, as well as an opportunity for Warren supporters across the state of Wisconsin to connect and begin to organize in unison across the state.

We’ll dig into our biggest volunteer opportunity right now — sending carpools to IOWA to knock doors before the caucus on February 3rd!

We will explain our organizing structure, train attendees on how to knock doors, and we will start planning upcoming events and actions in our own communities.

RSVP and invite your friends!   

“State of ‘Sconne” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We discuss Governor Evers’ State of the State speech. Claire and Robert tell us about the Families USA healthcare conference they are attending this week and we dive into a deeper discussion of Trump’s failure to deliver on lowering prescription drug prices. We talk about the 2 new open state Senate seats following the announced retirements of Democratic Senators, Dave Hansen and Mark Miller. We close with a discussion of the disappointing Wisconsin Association of School Boards’ rejection of the proposal to retire Native mascots in Wisconsin schools.

Listen Now – Episode #426
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