Flathead Beacon: Tester Presses Forest Service Chief on Holland Lake Lodge Expansion

by Mike Jopek

It’s a busy time on the farm. Winter ended. The fields awaken soon. It’s time for spring’s wet snow and warm winds to melt the lingering snow. Bring back a little sunshine.

We’ve been seeding vegetables and pruning fruit trees for a fresh growing season in the Flathead, much like the past three decades. In the upcoming weeks, garlic will emerge from its winter blanket of snow. 

No time is busier on the farm than when snow melts and the fields spring to life with green. Hard to believe planet Earth journeyed hundreds of million miles orbiting the sun since last springtime.

I received the call and put the morning’s farm work on hold. Sen. Jon Tester was in Kalispell touting the Inflation Reduction Act, specifically the new Medicare cost-cutting provisions which centerpiece the recent legislation. 

Cory Short, Logan Health Chief Medical Officer, commended Tester’s work on the Inflation Reduction Act, saying doctors at the hospital witness more and more seniors who can’t afford lifesaving prescriptions.

I sat in the audience as Tester spoke about how insulin would now be $35 for seniors, all Medicare part D medicine capped at $2,000 annually, and drug pricing negotiated. This was historic news, welcome by every retiree in Montana. The Inflation Reduction Act is a big deal.

Nancy Millette, a retired teacher of 35 years, spoke about being forced to switch medicines to afford living on her fixed income. 

Tom Humphreys, a Vietnam veteran, said the Inflation Reduction Act offers him “peace of mind” as the retail price of just one medication cost a significant portion of their earned Social Security benefits.

I put on my readers and pulled out the large-font notes from my suit pocket, a favorite coat I purchased decades earlier during my terms in the Montana Legislature. The Inflation Reduction Act consists of common-sense reforms, I told the audience, many of which are long, long overdue. The Act helps seniors while reducing the federal deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.

My mom and all our 80-year-old family members each take handfuls of life-saving medicines daily. It’s wacky how expensive some medicines are for seniors. Hundreds, even thousands can be spent out-of-pocket monthly.

The out-of-pocket caps that Tester secured through the Inflation Reduction Act helps every retiree afford to live longer, better lives. Tester was the sole Montana member of Congress to vote to cap costs for seniors. While other men talk, Tester does the hard work that matters to Montanans.

Another law Tester helped secure for seniors allows Montanans to purchase high-quality, over-the-counter hearing aids at local stores. Mom purchased a set. They work amazingly well. Being rechargeable means no tiny, little battery replacements every day. 

Thanks to Jon Tester, today’s hearing aids cost a small fraction of what they did just years ago. Mom’s hearing aid works so well we got my 89-year-old father in-law a pair so he could hear mass at church.

Earlier, Tester secured full federal funding for provider rates so senior facilities could keep doors open across Montana. It’s bewildering why the state chose to allow a dozen elderly facilities to close in Montana rather than maximizing these federal dollars.

Tester is the only working farmer in the U.S. Senate. Montanans routinely see Tester standing up for working people while holding government and big corporations accountable. Tester is one of the good guys. He helps people and retirees all across Montana regardless of political affiliation.

Tester is the only one of the four men Montana sent to Washington who’s getting work done to help local retirees. Washington may be out of touch with rural Montana but Senator Tester clearly gets it, delivers on what matters, and values an honest day’s work. 

Spring to Life – Flathead Beacon