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Summer sure is flying by! I hope you have enjoyed watching the Summer Olympics as much as I have the last two weeks. It's been great to see athletes from Wisconsin perform including Kenny Bednarek from Rice Lake who took home the silver in the 200-meter dash. You can read more about Kenny here

This update has lots of helpful information to keep you up-to-date including:

  • Democrats Introduce "Rx for Less" Bill Package
  • Find a Vaccination Site Near You
  • Provide Your Input On Fair Maps
  • Water Quality Month
  • Save the Date For These Local Events 
  • Emergency Repair Consumer Tips
  • Investments in Wisconsin Tourism
  • Get a free cream puff at the state fair and additional resources!

I hope you find this information helpful and please don't hesitate to reach out to my office if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
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JON ERPENBACH
State Senator
27th District

 

Gov. Evers, Sen. Erpenbach and other Legislators Introduce "Less for Rx" Prescription Drug Plan

This legislative package is comprised of bold initiatives proposed by Gov. Evers as part of his 2021-2023 biennial budget earlier this year and builds on the work of the Governor’s Task Force on Reducing Prescription Drug Prices with more than a dozen innovative and effective policy solutions to reduce the price of prescription drugs and ensure Wisconsinites can access and afford the medications they need. 

“Everyone should be able to afford their medication but for far too many Wisconsinites their prescription medications remain out of reach with outrageous, irrational, and burdensome out-of-pocket expenses,” said Gov. Evers. “It's time for bold solutions and comprehensive reform that increases transparency and accountability, reduces out-of-pocket expenses, and tackles this issue head on.”

“Serving on the Governor's Task Force on Reducing Prescription Drug Prices, I heard from people across the state who struggle to pay for their medications,” said State Rep. Lisa Subeck (D-Madison). “All Wisconsinites need and deserve access to affordable healthcare, including prescription drugs, and this package today could provide some much-needed relief to patients struggling to afford potentially lifesaving medications they or their children need.”

“The Governor's Task Force on Reducing Prescription Drug Prices made recommendations that would control costs, increase transparency, and support our state's most vulnerable. I am glad to see those proposals continue to move forward in this legislative package so that every Wisconsinite can get the medications they need,” said Office of the Commissioner of Insurance Mark Afable. 

“No one should have to ration their medications because they can't afford it,” said State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point) and co-author of the package. “This package of bills is an important step to help ensure that Wisconsinites can afford the medications they need. Rather than allowing powerful drug companies and insurance executives to write their own rules, Democrats are fighting to expand healthcare coverage and lower prescription costs for everyone.”


Lowering Prices and Controlling Costs

  • Creating a Prescription Drug Affordability Review Board to establish prescription drug spending targets for public sector entities and establishing price limits; 
  • Creating a Prescription Drug Importation Program that would allow the state to import drugs that would create substantial savings for Wisconsin consumers and taxpayers;
  • Providing the state with the authority to study, develop, and pursue a State Prescription Drug Purchasing Entity allowing state and local collaboration to combine and leverage purchasing power to reduce the cost of prescription drugs and save taxpayer dollars;
  • Improving the Wisconsin Drug Repository Program by streamlining processes and allowing partnerships;
  • Ending discriminatory reimbursement practices toward 340B programs;
  • Under certain circumstances, requiring insurers to apply discounts and coupons utilized by consumers to deductibles and annual out-of-pocket maximums; and
  • Creating a Patient Pharmacy Benefit Tool to help prescribers take out-of-pocket costs into consideration when choosing between medically-similar medication options.


Increasing Transparency and Protecting Consumers 

  • Creating the Office of Prescription Drug Affordability to oversee and regulate the pharmaceutical supply chain and serve as a watchdog for Wisconsin consumers;
  • Increasing consumer protections for Wisconsinites from attempts to artificially raise prices or mislead consumers through deceptive marketing and advertising practices; and
  • Coupled with 2021 Wisconsin Act 9, this legislation will require transparency and reporting across the entire prescription drug supply chain, from manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to pharmacy services administration organizations (PSAOs) and health plans and provide oversight and requiring reporting or licensing for PBMs, PSAOs, PBM brokers and consultants, and Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives. 


Ensuring Access for Wisconsin's Most Vulnerable

  • Establishing a $50 copay cap on insulin to ensure insulin is affordable for all Wisconsinites; 
  • Creating an Insulin Safety Net Program to ensure folks never need to choose between rationing insulin and meeting other basic needs;
  • Establishing an innovative pilot program aimed at developing a value-based formulary for diabetes medication;
  • Increasing funding for free and charitable clinics by $4 million over the biennium;
  • Encouraging pharmacists to volunteer at clinics providing no-cost care to Wisconsin's most vulnerable, strengthening the healthcare workforce to improve access; and
  • Eliminating BadgerCare prescription drug copayments to make the prescription drug benefit more accessible.

The "Less for Rx" plan includes LRBs 231333153317331933313332333333343335333633373338, and 3339

During the budget process, Republican legislators rejected the governor’s comprehensive plan to lower prices and declined to take meaningful action to help Wisconsinites afford the medicine they need. Gov. Evers earlier this year signed into law 2021 Wisconsin Act 9, which will increase transparency in the prescription drug supply chain by creating licensing and practice requirements for pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in the state of Wisconsin.


Get Vaccinated! 

First and foremost, the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community from COVID-19 and the Delta variant is to get vaccinated. From January 1, 2021 through July 22, 2021, over 98 percent of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin occurred among people who were not fully vaccinated.

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 prevents severe illness, hospitalization, and death; it also helps reduce the spread of the virus in communities. Unvaccinated people should get vaccinated and continue wearing a mask until they are fully vaccinated. With the Delta variant, this is more urgent than ever. Data demonstrate that COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the Delta variant. Past infection with COVID-19 does not assure protection from the Delta variant, so people who have had past COVID-19 infection are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. High vaccination coverage will not only reduce the spread of the virus, but also help prevent new, and possibly more concerning, variants from emerging. Vaccination is the best way to protect you, your family, and your community. To find a vaccination location near you visit vaccines.gov(link is external) (https://vacunas.gov/(link is external)) or call 211.

Find a vaccination site near you:

While vaccination remains the top defense against the Delta variant, the CDC guidance also focuses on additional strategies that will provide additional protection against the spread of the virus. Because science has shown that wearing a mask over your nose and mouth can help prevent transmission of the respiratory droplets and aerosols that spread COVID-19, wearing a mask is now recommended in the following indoor settings:

  • All teachers, staff, students, and visitors of K-12 schools should wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.
  • Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, who lives in areas with substantial and high transmission as noted on this CDC map(link is external) (orange counties represent substantial transmission and red counties represent high transmission) should wear masks in public indoor settings.


Are You Ready for Fair Maps?

The Wisconsin People's Maps Commission has announced a new public portal where Wisconsinites are encouraged to submit input and maps of their communities, redistricting plans of their own, and written comments to guide the work and recommendations of the People's Maps Commission.

You can learn more submit your feedback here.

 


DNR Kicks Off Water Quality Month With Safe Water for All Campaign; Announces Panel Series 

As August kicks off National Water Quality Month, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the department is launching the Safe Water For All Campaign to spotlight the need for Wisconsinites to have safe, clean drinking water.  

“Our state and our economy depend on having access to safe, clean water, from our homes and our schools to our farmers to our outdoor recreation industry, and we’ve been working to address water contamination and protect the health of folks across our state since the beginning of my administration,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “I’m incredibly proud of the work we’re doing to offer real solutions to improve water quality for every Wisconsinite, but we also can’t do it alone—we need the Legislature to give this issue their urgent attention and action.”

Gov. Evers declared 2019 the Year of Clean Drinking Water to address the fact Wisconsinites do not have access to safe, clean drinking water. From emerging contaminants to ongoing issues concerning lead, runoff and other classic pollutants, working toward clean drinking water carries on the Wisconsin way – forward.

“Water is an essential and precious resource. Tens of thousands of people today cannot drink the water that comes out of their tap. No one should ever be afraid to turn on their tap,” said DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole. “Today we are launching a new educational effort to amplify the importance of safe drinking water for all. This effort will let the public know where they can go to learn about the safety of their water, what the DNR is doing to protect their health and the solutions we could implement today to ensure clean water for all.”

Today, the work continues. In addition to declaring 2019 the Year of Clean Drinking Water, Gov. Evers directed the DNR and the Department of Health Services, the agencies entrusted with protecting Wisconsin’s health and water resources, to strengthen water quality standards for nitrate, PFAS and lead. Learn more about how the State of Wisconsin is protecting our drinking water here.

“Access to safe drinking water is a critical component of healthy environments for people to live, work, and play in. Here in Wisconsin, we are lucky to have water resources, but we are confronted with a range of water quality concerns – some naturally occurring and some due to human practices,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “All of us at DHS stand committed to ensuring access to safe drinking water."

The Safe Water For All Campaign is focused on educating the public on the leading drinking water contaminants, including PFAS, nitrates and lead, and their impact on your health. The public is encouraged to participate in an upcoming panel series to stay informed and learn steps you can take to keep safe.


Save The Date For These Local Upcoming Events! 


Emergency Home Repair Tips

If your property is in need of repairs following severe weather, be aware that consumers in these situations are more vulnerable to scams. Here are some tips from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to prevent problems, based on past consumer complaints.

Contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection, (800) 422-7128, the Better Business Bureau,(800) 273-1002 or (414) 847-6000, to find out if complaints have been filed against a contractor.

  1. Get lien waivers from anyone that you pay for home repairs. It is vital to do this, because if the person collecting the money does not pay their supplier or workers, a lien could be put on your property. This can happen unless you have a lien waiver.

  2. Consumers can avoid some problems by paying for materials themselves, dealing directly with the supplier.

  3. Often “storm chasers” appear after a disaster, trying to make a quick buck by doing shoddy work or sometimes not doing any work. Try to get a local contractor to do the repairs. Ask contractors if they are subcontracting your job, and if so, who will actually be doing the work. They are required to disclose any subcontractors to you.

  4. Get a written contract which is signed by both parties that includes, the contractor’s name and address, start and end dates, a full description of the work to be done, a detailed list of materials to be used, the total price for the job, and any statements of warranties. Prior to signing the contract, get a copy of the “Notice of Consumer’s Right to Receive Lien Waivers” from your contractor.

  5. Have someone around to watch the work being done. That way, it is less likely that steps will be skipped and more likely the job will be done quickly and properly.

  6. Request a copy of the contractor’s certificate of liability insurance.​


Gov. Evers Announces $10 Million to Support Wisconsin's Tourism Industry Through Local Tourism Investment Projects

Gov. Tony Evers announced $10 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds will be used to provide grants to local governments and tourism-entity nonprofits for tourism-related investment projects that help promote, maintain, or bolster Wisconsin's tourism industry and that have a substantial capital component. Grants of up to $3.5 million will be awarded to regional entities through a competitive application process to eligible infrastructure projects such as convention centers, travel infrastructure, public or nonprofit attractions, and more. 

 

“Wisconsin's tourism industry was one of the hardest hit throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but these folks are innovative, dedicated, and resilient, and we're working to make sure our tourism industry can bounce back from this pandemic,” said Gov. Evers. “These investments in tourism infrastructure are not only critical to ensuring that recovery continues, but that our investments help build a strong future for the industry to continue to grow.”

 

Despite the pandemic, Wisconsin’s tourism industry supported more than 157,000 jobs across the state and had a $17.3 billion impact on the state economy in 2020. So far in 2021, the industry is seeing recovery above 2020 numbers as travelers make up for missed vacations while reconnecting with friends and family. 

 

“In 2021, people are traveling more and staying longer, and this ongoing commitment to Wisconsin tourism will ensure the industry continues to bounce back stronger and will make Wisconsin a stand-out destination for future visitors ready to discover the unexpected,” said Department of Tourism interim Secretary Anne Sayers

 

These investments are being funded by the ARPA and will be administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA). 

 

“Today's announcement reiterates Gov. Evers' priority of a rapid and complete recovery of the tourism sector,” said DOA Secretary Joel Brennan. “We are excited about the opportunities across the state to help our tourism industry shine, so we can continue to create memories for families and visitors alike for years to come.”

 

Gov. Evers' announcement today is a continuation of the governor's efforts to support the tourism industry's recovery and rebound from the coronavirus pandemic. The funds announced today are in addition to the governor's previously announced more than $140 million in ARPA funding for Wisconsin's tourism and entertainment industries, including: 

  • $75 million for lodging grants; 
  • $11.25 million for movie theaters; 
  • $12 million for live event small businesses; 
  • $2.8 million for minor league sports teams; 
  • $10 million for live venues; 
  • $15 million for destination marketing organizations; 
  • $8 million for summer camps; 
  • $1 million for the Wisconsin Historical Society to assist in reopening historical sites; and 
  • $7.5 million to increase marketing support for Wisconsin's tourism industry. 

 

Individuals and businesses interested in receiving more information about the grants, including application, should sign up to receive alerts here

 

 


Gov. Evers and DHS Announce Free Cream Puffs for Individuals Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine at Wisconsin State Fair

Gov. Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) today announced a collaboration with the Wisconsin State Fair to hold an on-site COVID-19 vaccine clinic for the duration of the fair. The vaccine clinic will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. from August 5 through August 15. Individuals vaccinated at the on-site clinic will receive a voucher for a free cream puff redeemable at the Cream Puff Pavilion.

“For 52 years, Kathy and I haven't missed a State Fair—except for last year, of course—and we’ve shared some of our favorite memories here, including eating our fair share of Wisconsin cream puffs,” said Gov. Evers. “Getting shots in arms is a critical part of making sure our state and our economy continue to recover, so we’re thrilled to partner with the folks at DHS and the Wisconsin State Fair to provide cream puffs to all those who get their COVID-19 vaccine at the state fair clinic on-site this year.”

Wisconsin is experiencing a steady increase of COVID-19 cases, as indicated by a rising seven-day average. This increase is driven by the highly infectious Delta variant, which is now widespread in all parts of Wisconsin, as it is across the country. As the spread increases, so does the risk that new, potentially more dangerous variants will develop. That is why state health officials are urging all eligible Wisconsinites—especially those attending this year’s fair—to get the COVID-19 vaccine and to follow current best health practices such as wearing a mask in public indoor spaces and staying home when sick. These measures will help stop the spread of the virus across our state.

The COVID-19 vaccine clinic will be operated by AMI Expeditionary Healthcare at the State Fair Park in West Allis, Wisconsin. AMI has partnered with DHS to run and operate the six DHS community-based vaccination clinics since March 2021. Walk-ins are welcomed for anyone ages 12 and over. Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available. Fair admission is required to access this vaccination clinic. For more information on this opportunity and other vaccination options, visit the Where can I get vaccinated? webpage.

“With an increase in COVID-19 cases and the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, it is urgent for those who are eligible but not yet vaccinated to get protected against the virus,” said Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “We all want to make informed decisions about our health and healthcare. If you still have questions about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, please consult with your own healthcare providers. Here is what the facts and data are showing: first, the COVID-19 vaccines are providing protection against COVID-19 and all variants, like the Delta, and they are helping prevent severe illness. Second, most confirmed cases are in people who are not yet fully vaccinated. We know for a fact that widespread vaccinations are the best way for all of us to move past this pandemic.”

If you have already had COVID-19, you should still get vaccinated. You can find COVID-19 vaccinations at vaccines.gov or call 211 or 877-947-2211. To stay up-to-date on COVID-19 and to learn more about how to stay protected, subscribe to the DHS COVID-19 Weekly Newsletter.


Help Wisconsin Turtles! 

With turtle nesting season soon underway, state conservation biologists and highway officials are joining forces to encourage Wisconsinites to hatch a brighter future for slow-moving, slow-growing turtles by taking a few simple steps. 

 

Most of Wisconsin's 11 turtle species breed in late May through June and often cross roads to lay their eggs in nests on higher ground. Turtles getting run over by cars is a leading cause of the decline in turtle numbers in Wisconsin. The predation of turtle nests by raccoons, skunks and coyotes is another major problem.

 

Because some species – such as wood turtles and Blanding’s turtles – take 12 to 20 years to reach reproductive maturity, the death of even one female turtle a year can take a big toll.

 

To protect turtle populations, the Wisconsin DNR and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) are asking people to protect turtles on the move. Follow these protective actions from now through the end of June, when the nesting season ends:


Get Covered Through the ACA!

Thanks to new COVID relief, health insurance premiums have decreased on Healthcare.gov and you can sign up to get covered right now! Four out of five enrollees will now be able to find a plan for $10 or less per month.

If you’ve shopped on Healthcare.gov before, look again! New, lower prices are available for more people than ever before.

If you are are currently uninsured, already signed up for a plan through Healthcare.gov, or eligible for COBRA coverage from a former employer, you may benefit from these changes. People looking to get enrolled or change their current plan are encouraged to visit Wiscovered.com or call 2-1-1 to get free, expert help.

This new enrollment opportunity won’t last forever- sign up today!


Rental Assistance

Reminder, if you or anyone you know that has experienced income loss as a result of the pandemic their is support available! 
 
The Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program, provides direct financial assistance for rent, utility, home energy costs, and wraparound services for individuals who qualify.
 
For information on the program, how to apply, frequently asked questions as well as local resources and contacts please click here.

 


- Resources - 

During this difficult time it is worth reminding Wisconsinites that 211 exists to help when you don’t know where to turn. 211 is a resource managed by the United Way of Wisconsin. Call 2-1-1 or visit their website.

Office of Crime Victim Services

End Abuse Wisconsin 

National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1-800-799-7233, text LOVEIS to 22522, or go to thehotline.org for free and confidential support.

Disaster Distress Hotline 

Coping Resources for Kids and Parents Amidst COVID-19 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Veterans Crisis Line 

Vets for Warriors 

Military One Source 

Resilient Wisconsin

Department of Corrections Helpline: The call center can be reached by members of the public Monday through Friday from 7:45am–4:30pm at (608) 240-5700.

Wisconsin Farm Center 

24/7 Farmer Wellness Hotline

LGBTQ Crisis Line 

HopeLine Text Service 

Wisconsin Elder Abuse Hotline 

Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline 


 

Looking for additional resources? If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to my office at Sen.Erpenbach@Legis.WI.Gov, or call (608) 266-6670. 

 

 
 
Contacting My Office

Feel free to contact me with any inquiries.

Please visit my website for press releases and other Capitol updates.