Funny what some people find worthy of harsh judgment.
To some, flipping the middle finger is the height of disrespect.
Others, meanwhile, are more offended by people in power siding with greedy corporations that profit hand over fist off desperate medical patients by charging them ever-more for life-saving medication. Pretty rude, right?
On Tuesday, lawmakers announced a tentative agreement to assist Minnesotans with diabetes afford their increasingly costly insulin drugs. The Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Bill is named for a Minneapolis man who attempted to ration his insulin, which at $1,300 a month was more than he could afford. Smith was 26 when he died in 2017. Jesimya Scherer Radcliff was 21 when he died last July.
Lawmakers in Minnesota's DFL-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate agreed something needed to be done to stop price gouging. But what? And who should pay for it?
The price of insulin drugs has increased tenfold since the 1990s, and doubled in price by from 2012 to 2016, and Democrats wanted to assess fees on the drug companies making that money.
Republicans wanted... pretty much whatever was on the latest note passed to them by Big Pharma corporations, whose spending on government influence tripled last year. Conveniently enough, despite many hours of debate and passage in both chambers, the insulin bill slid off the table at the last minute in 2019.
Now it appears set to pass, finally, in a form Republicans can tolerate. As the Star Tribune characterized the deal:
Under the draft agreement, diabetics who are within seven days of running out of insulin and unable to afford out-of-pocket prescription costs of $75 or more could obtain a 30-day supply at a pharmacy for a $35 copay. Insulin manufacturers would provide reimbursements or replace stockpiles that pharmacies distribute as part of the program.
The compromise represents a retreat for House DFL lawmakers who passed bills this year and last imposing fees on drug manufacturers to pay for the program. But lawmakers said drugmakers will still be held accountable under the deal, which instead imposes fines on companies that don't cooperate with the pharmacy program.
Instead of $38 million in estimated fees, drug companies are subject to potential fines -- $3.6 million in year one, $7.2 in the next -- for failure to comply with the program. Republicans also won on keeping a lower threshold for which Minnesotans are eligible to benefit. Democrats had wanted eligibility for cheaper insulin extended to those making up to 600 percent of the poverty level; this deal would only cover those making 400 percent (about $51,000) or less.
Tuesday's deal between the two parties and chambers was announced separately, with Republican Sen. Scott Jensen (R-Chaska), lead author of the Senate bill, holding a press conference to break the good news. As Jensen started to speak, a Senate GOP camera caught House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) waiting in the background for the DFL's announcement. Evidently, Winkler's temper got the better of him.
Within 20 minutes of the clip hitting Twitter, the DFL leader had apologized, and offered a personal explanation.
My son has Type 1 diabetes. It was poor form to express myself as I did, and for that I am sorry. But after months in which Senate Republicans blocked the emergency insulin bill, it was also poor form of them to claim credit alone after we are all on the edge of a deal.— Ryan Winkler (@_RyanWinkler) April 7, 2020
This moment of candid personal emotion from a parent falls well outside the bounds of good taste and Capitol protocol, for obvious reasons.
Did Winkler even ask a lobbyist which finger to use?