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Turtle Mountain Star
Rolla , North Dakota
February 1, 2021     Turtle Mountain Star
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February 1, 2021

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, good explanation By Brayden Zenker N .D. Newspaper Association Education Foundation BISMARCK —— The Senate Human Services Committee heard testimony on three bills aimed at get—‘ ting North Dakota consumers access to lower prescription prices. “Most of us have never heard a of why the same drug a few miles across the border [in Canada] sells for 40 percent, 30 percent or sometimes even 20 percent of the price we pay in this country,” said Sen. Howard Ander- son Jr., R—TurtleLake (District 8), who introduced all three. , The first of the three, SB 2170, would create a system to set payment rates for prescription drugs based on international prices, specifically the price of those drugs in Canada. The bill would compare prescription drug prices in America to prices in Al- berta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. After comparison, the low- est price would be used as reference rate, or maximum rate, for con- sumers. , “This is an issue that has contin— ued to grow in the minds of our members said Josh Askvig, state di- rector of AARP. “For the last five years, I have not gone to an event where somebody hasn’t asked me about prescription drug costs.” According to Askvig, the bill “al— lows states to ‘import’ the drugs’ prices instead of the actual drugs.” According to the National Academy for State Health Policy, the average savings on prescription drug costs would be around 75 percent. In North Dakota the average costs of prescription drugs increased by 57.8 percent from 2012-2017. In Anderson 2017, according to the State Health Access Data Assistance Center, 31 percent of North Dakota residents stopped taking prescription drugs be— cause of cost. Michael and Marilyn Womer, Fargo residents and retired educators, spoke in favor of SB 2170. “This year my wife and I will de- Clare $22,000 in medical costs when we file our income tax,” Michael Worner said. “This represents over 30 percent of our total income. Our prescription drug costs are a major part of this expense and cause us con— stant concern.” Worner suffers from dry eyes, a condition that he said cannot be treated using over-the-counter med- ications. The medication Womer’s eye doctor prescribed him costs $1,700 for a three-month supply. After insurance, Womer’s out—of— pocket cost is around $120. “About two years ago, when I talked to my doctor and informed him that I was having difficulty pay- ing for the expensive medication, he suggested that I use only half of the prescribed medication daily,” Womer said. “This is one method I use to save money — by rationing my drugs.” Womer has started buying the medication out-of—country. He said a three-month supply of the drug costs $60 versus $1,700 in-country before insurance. “A point of interest is that the medication that I purchase from an— other country is manufactured in College launches nurse The nursing program and appren- ticeship program at Lake Region State College (LRSC) have collabo- rated to create a nursing apprentice— ship program. This program is designed to meet workforce needs in‘ North Dakota,“ > On January 21, the program was given approval by the North Dakota Board of Nursing as an innovative educational model/approach. The In— ' novation in nursing education ap- proach was put into rule by the ND Board of Nursing to: 1. Foster innovative models of nursing education to address the changing needs in healthcare. 2. Assure that innovative ap- prOaches are conducted in a manner consistent within the board’s role of protecting the public; and 3. Assure that innovative ap- proaches conform to the quality out- come standards and core education criteria established by the board. “The ND Board of Nursing should be commended for embracing innovative nursing education pro- grams like Apprenticeships to assist healthcare facilities in meeting the challenge of maintaining a work— force,” stated Dr. Doug Darling, President of Lake Region State Col- lege. The nursing program at LRSC is a partner in the Dakota Nursing Pro- gram along with Bismarck State Col- lege, Dakota College at Bottineau, and Williston State College. ‘In the LRSC apprenticeship model, the student can “earn while they learn”, said Julie Traynor, Di— rector of the Dakota Nursing Pro- gram. “Many community college stu- dents need to work while they attend school,” said Karen Clementich, LRSC Nursing program director. Traynor added, “The apprentice- ship has ground rules agreed upon with the employer that provides a structured wage, set step increases, and opportunity for continued em— ployment at the completion of the ap— prenticeship.” v The combination of academic program requirements plus the ap- prenticeship (on—the-job learning, a mentor relationship with a staff nurse, and eventually a Department of Labor certificate of completion) provides a rigorous and sturdy base that socializes students to the nursing profession and prepares them for an in demand and challenging career. “The program is attractive to em- vers as it increases staff retention, wases recruitment costs, im— quality of patient care, and in- diversity in the workplace,” aid. nnovative approach has ‘ outcomes, the project ved to be an ongoing vation program. Once ' is achieved, LRSC will share the project to other nursing programs statewide in an ef— fort to increase the nurses in our state. “Apprenticeships have a proven ---record of a positive retumon invest— ment to both student and industry partner and is an excellent recruit- ment tool for employers,” said Melana Howe, project manager for The Star 'Waco, Texas,” Worner said. “In my opinion, this is not right. Why can someone purchase a prescription drug. for $60 when- I am paying $1,700 for that same drug?” Peter Fjelstad, senior director of state policy for Pharmaceutical Re— search and Manufacturers of Amer— ica, testified in opposition to the bill. “This kind of legislation will not benefit patients and can jeopardize the competitive market that works to drive down drug prices,” Fjelstad said. According to Fjelstad, price con- trols threaten the development of new medications because it reduces the incentive for pharmaceutical companies to invest in research and development. I , “It is not the right path forward to help ensure that North Dakotans have access to affordable medicines Fjel- stad said. SB 2209 and SB 2212 would es- tablish a wholesale prescription drug importation program with Canada to lower costs. The two bills are essen- tially the same except the program would be run by ND. Board of Phar- macy under SB 2209 and the ND. Department of Health under SB 2212. Roger Roehl, a Mandan resident, testified in favor of the bills. “Five years ago, I nearly lost my life to leukemia, but it wasn’t be— cause of the disease, which was under control. It was because my wife and I couldn’t afford my med- ication,” Roehl said. ' rate senators hearproposals to lower prescription drug costs Under Roehl’s Medicare insur— ance plan, his monthly medication cost was $2,400. Roehl said he was not able to afford the medication. After consulting with his oncologist, Roehl was told he would have ap— proximately three and half years to live without the medication. Roehl later discovered he would be able to get his medication from Canada for $690 per month. “What good is a life-saving drug if you can’t afford to buy it,” Roehl said. “It’s a shame Americans have to turn to foreign countries for afford- able prices on life-saving drugs but if that will help consumers like me, I support it.” Aside from the medication Roehl takes for leukemia he is also-now tak- ing insulin, after side effects of COVID- 19 elevated his blood sugar. “I support anything you guys can come up with to help us out. We defi- nitely need some assistance because we’re not getting anywhere on our own,” Roehl said. " Leah Lindahl, with the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, which con— nects pharmaceutical distributors with pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities, testified in opposition to the bills. “Allowing for importation of pre— scription drug products increases the likelihood of counterfeit or adulter— ated drugs entering the country,” Lin- dahl said. In her testimony, Lindahl refer— enced the Drug Supply Chain Secu— rity Act which establishes a program to track prescription drugs distributed in the United States. The program helps preventcitizens from using counterfeit, stolen, contaminated or other harmful drugs. “Importation of drugs from Canada, or other countries, would hinder the intent' of the DSCSA statute, and therefore increase the risk of illegitimate or counterfeit medications entering the US. mar- ket,” Lindahl said'. apprenticeship program LRSC apprenticeships. There has been only one other in- novative project approved by the Board of Nursing since the inception of this administrative rule opportu- nity in 2011. Incidentally, this was, also a LRSC nursing program inno- vation in education project. The LRSC Paramedic to Nurse Bridge project was approved as an innova— Make the Choice to protect your health. MyChoice Health Checks are low-cost screenings that make earlier detection and timelier care possible. You can choose which screenings you want and schedule quickly and easily with our imaging experts. MyChoice Health Checks help to identify risk factors that can lead to serious problems: - Heart attack Calcium Score Screening $60 o Stroke Carotid Artery Disease Scree ' $35 o Abdominal aneu Abdominal Aorti (AAA) Screening $35 0 Heart disease EKG $20 All screenings are read board-certified radiolo ; and cardiologists. For appointments/questions, call 701-857-3220. tive project in 2015 and fully ap— proved as a permanent program in 2018. “The nursing department faculty . at LRSC are leading the state in in— novation in education,”aTraynor said. If you are a student or employer looking for more information for the program, contact Melana Howe, at Melana.Howe@LRSC.edu. Page 9 Samantha Wech is the newest member of Main Inspirations in Rolla. Main Inspirations welcomes new stylist By John Rosinski Of The Star Main Inspirations in Rolla has added a new stylist with a focus on men’s cuts. Samantha Wech started working at the salon last Monday. She spe- cializes in men’s cuts, along with coloring and balayage. Wech is originally from Bis- marck. She went to college for one ‘ semester after high school and de— cided to change course and pursue a degree in cosmetology. She moved to Rolla a couple ROLETTE INSURANCE AGENCY is sponsoring two TUESDAY- FEB. 9 months ago with her two—year old son, who has family ties to the area. “I’ve always enjoyed doing hair and makeup and always did mine and my friends,” Wech. said. “I have enjoyed living in a smaller town and everything that comes with it.” Wech said she is available by ap- pointment most days of the week and can be reached at 477—5600. She added onysome days if. she has sev- eral openings walk-ins will be wel- come. She said to check Main Inspirations Facebook page for up- dates on availability. Roleitte fiemorial Hall Rolla Ame as pim. rica‘n Legion Cabin 3'02 Rolla Steak fry to follow! Company representatives from NAU Crop Insurance and Farm Service Agency will be on hand to answer any crop insurance questions. You’re welcome to take advantage of one or both of these informational meetings. For questions, call Andy Gilje at 701-246-3395. NAU Country. A QBE Insurance Company