U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall visited Western Plains Medical Complex on Jan. 22 and answered questions presented by attendees.
Marshall currently serves Kansas' 1st Congressional District and is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts.
Marshall opened first, by talking about what he perceived to be the biggest news: agriculture in Kansas.
He talked about how steps for improvement in agriculture have been taken, highlighting the U.S.-China trade deal being signed and saying the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, should follow shortly.
He called the USMCA the most sophisticated trade agreement ever written and said it will make business for producers in commodities much easier for generations.
“This gives us a rule of law on how to do business,” Marshall said. “We want it as easy to do business with Canada and Mexico as it is between Kansas and Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.”
The deal also affects the U.S. dairy market, allowing it to expand into Canada for the first time. Marshall said this will set the stage for a bigger trade route with the European Union, once it opens up to the new trade agreements and terms set by President Donald Trump.
“This puts us in a better standing, so we’re very excited about that,” Marshall said.
When asked about companies making more money off prescriptions, Marshall said that he perceived the biggest culprit to be pharmacy benefit managers.
“Pharmacy benefit managers control 90% of the prescriptions in this country," he said. "So you go to your local pharmacist and get an insulin prescription and you see that it costs $450 for a month’s worth of insulin, the pharmacy benefit manager is going to walk away with over $300 of that, while the local pharmacist is going to get maybe $50 or $100 out of that.”
Marshall described pharmacy benefit managers as “killers” because they give legal rebates or kickbacks to insurance companies and big pharmacy, among others who benefit from them, and that it is the only industry in the U.S. that can do that after being OK'd by Congress in 2004.
Marshall said he and Trump have fought to get it pushed back but have been met with opposition in the past.
Marshall said the first step to fixing prescription issues is showing the public where the money used to pay for their prescriptions goes and second is to purchase more generic drugs.
Marshall said that the Food and Drug Administration is approving twice as many generic drugs under the Trump administration as before.
He then discussed the national debt.
“I think whether you prioritize a strong military, taking care of our veterans, roads and bridges, or schools, if we don’t get our national debt under control none of those things are going to get taken care of,” he said. “It won’t be too long until we’re paying a trillion dollars a year on interest. It is unsustainable, and this country has to figure out how to deal with the problems.”
Marshall said the federal government does not have a taxing problem, it has a spending problem.
"Despite tax cuts, we have record revenue coming into the federal government," he said.