Metro-East News

Davis disputes opponent Londrigan’s ad about prescription drug prices. Who is right?

As the Nov. 6 election draws closer, a television ad being run in the northern part of the 13th Congressional District, which is expected to air in the St. Louis-media market, is already raising objections from one of the candidates.

The re-election campaign for U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, is taking issue with a television ad discussing prescription drug prices.

The attack ad, which is narrated by an Edwardsville woman named “Sue,” being paid for by the campaign of Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, the Democrat hoping to unseat Davis on Nov. 6. In the ad, Sue says “Davis voted to keep prescription prices high” and cites a Belleville News-Democrat article.

The May 4, 2017, article discusses how Davis, along with other metro-east congressmen, voted for the American Health Care Act, which was the House Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. The U.S. Senate never passed a bill to repeal the ACA.

The BND article doesn’t discuss prescription drug prices. However, the Londrigan campaign in a subsequent interview, followed up and cited an NBC News article that says the AHCA did not address prescription drug prices.

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Illinois’ 13th Congressional District race U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, and Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, Democrat, Derik Holtmann

Davis’ camp counters that AHCA addressed the Medicare Part D doughnut hole.

Under the ACA, the Medicare Part D prescription drug doughnut hole would gradually close by 2020 in order to help seniors pay for prescription drugs. However, under the federal budget plan adopted this year, the doughnut hole is expected to close by 2019.

According to Kaiser Family Foundation, the AHCA didn’t address the Part D doughnut hole, but kept the planned changes from Obamacare in place.

During an interview, Davis said the House has passed the “Know the Lowest Price Act,” a bill that ends the gag clause for pharmacists, where pharmacists weren’t allowed to say where customers could save on prescription drugs. The legislation is headed to President Trump for his consideration.

“That’s clearly not in the best interests of drug manufacturers,” Davis said.

Davis added the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced Medicare part D premiums would drop because of more competition in the marketplace, and there that the FDA has streamlined the generic approval process, including a generic epinephrine pen coming out.

“We’re going to continue to tell the truth, and we’re going to continue to tell the truth when we believe that the facts are on our side that our opponent Betsy Londrigan is once again being dishonest,” Davis said.

The Davis campaign said it expects the ad to start running in the St. Louis market.

Ashley Phelps, a Davis spokeswoman, said the Londrigan pattern with television ads is they start in the northern part of the Illinois 13th, and then work their way south into the St. Louis television market.

Londrigan’s campaign would not comment on when it planned to start running the ad in the St. Louis market.

Disagreements over TV ads have already occurred in the race.

The Londrigan campaign has issued a cease and desist letter to television stations running ads paid for by the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC that backs Republican candidates. The ads say Londrigan would support a “radical healthcare plan” that is too expensive.

“It could end employer provided insurance and end Medicare as we know it,” the ad says.

The campaign wanted TV stations to stop running the ads.

“This advertisement is false, misleading and deceptive,” the campaign’s cease and desist letter said.

In a BND candidate questionnaire, Londrigan said she believes in opening up Medicare as a public option that would provide a competitor in the marketplace to bring costs down.

“Additionally, we must address the cost of prescription drugs,” Londrigan wrote. “We need to allow Medicare to negotiate for prescription drug costs effective immediately.”

The last several weeks between Davis and Londrigan is only expected to get more heated as at least one poll shows the race is tight.

Londrigan’s campaign released a poll this week that showed Davis leading by one point: 49 percent to 48 percent. However, a Congressional Leadership Fund poll has the race at 50 percent to 37 percent. Londrigan’s poll was in the field a few days after the CLF poll.

Sean Savett, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, questions the make up of respondents in the CLF poll and says the CLF leans conservative.

As a sign of how close the race is, Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to headline a fundraiser for Davis on Friday, which the Londrigan campaign has called a “rescue mission.”

“D.C. Republicans are so worried about losing Rodney Davis’ loyal vote that they’re bringing in Mike Pence to raise even more money from the large corporations and special interests who he so clearly represents in Congress,” said Emma Brown, Londrigan’s campaign manager.

Davis said he has been preparing for a tough campaign, but is confident he will win re-election even as the Londrigan poll is showing the race is close.

“It’s a message we now send to the folks that have elected and re-elected us before that we always said the race is going to be close and I sure hope no one takes any race for granted especially ours,” Davis said. “We see different numbers, but having my opponent come out with something like that is good because it’s a good reminder to a lot of the folks that are supporting us we can’t take our foot off the gas. I clearly believe we’ll be victorious on Election Day.”

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451; @JoeBReporter