Republican candidate for Montana’s eastern congressional district and incumbent U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale displayed his expertise on insurance issues during a debate Oct. 1 in Great Falls, and said he would support giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices.
Rosendale was joined on stage by Democratic candidate and former Billings City Councilmember Penny Ronning and Independent candidate and Billings businessman Gary Buchanan. Libertarian candidate Sam Rankin was not invited to participate in the debate due to not meeting MTN debate criteria.
Before Rosendale joined congress, he was Montana State Auditor and Commissioner of Securities and Insurance. He said he’d spent a lot of time investigating why prescription drug prices are growing faster than other segments of the health care system. What he found was brokers, called Pharmacy Benefit Managers, participate in the middle between the insurance companies, the pharmacists, the consumers and the actual drug manufacturers.
“And they are taking billions and billions of dollars out of the industry,” Rosendale said. “And not providing any service for that whatsoever.”
Ronning and Buchanan both criticized Rosendale at times for the significant number of times he’s voted no on major legislation. Rosendale defended his record in January when he spoke to MTN News, and said he couldn’t support legislation to over-extend government power and spending.
Rosendale said he opposed federal legalization of marijuana, student loan forgiveness, but supported giving the U.S. Department of Agriculture more resources to pursue anti-trust investigations.
When asked about whether it was more important, to allow a pregnancy to continue even when it threatened a woman’s life or whether a woman was allowed to decide how far to risk her life for a pregnancy, Rosendale stressed he felt it was important to preserve both lives.
“When it come to a situation where you have this issue to reconcile, I believe that is something between the woman and her doctor, it’s going to be,” Rosendale said. “But we do have two lives, let’s not mistake it. There are two lives there.”
In his closing remarks, Rosendale said if given a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans would pass legislation to help Montanans. He blamed single party control for the problems facing the country, he said.
“We have higher interest rates, we have higher crime rates, we have higher grocery bills, we have higher fuel bills,” Rosendale said. “And it is becoming crippling to all the households.”
Absentee ballots for the Nov. 8 election are expected to be mailed out beginning Friday. Ronning, Rosendale, Buchanan and Rankin will be on the ballot for Montana’s 2nd Congressional District.