Glasgow Courier: Senator Tester Talks Inflation Reduction Act

by Gwendolyne Honrud

After the U.S. Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act, Senator Jon Tester (D) took time to discuss the bill and its intended effects with the Courier. The Senator’s staff highlighted three major impacts of the bill as related to Montana residents: invest hundreds of billions of dollars to pay down America’s debt, lower costs for working families and unleash American energy production.

As with many farmers, the discussion started by touching on the weather and the grasshoppers this year. Tester, who lost a field of barley to the hoppers this year on his farm near Loma, referenced the last time a drought and grasshoppers combined to waylay farmers in the mid to late ‘80s. “Now we didn’t have them as bad this year but they did more damage this year than they did [then].”

On the subject of the drought and dwindling water supplies in the western United States, the Senator highlighted his previous work on the St. Mary’s diversion and the effects on the Milk River.

“We don’t have as much water coming down because of this dog-gone drought so the only way you’re going to save water is to handle it more efficiently.” Citing the roughly $90 million going towards the project from the infrastructure legislation he added, “It’ll make the canals more efficient and it’ll make that whole infrastructure more efficient … so that’s a net positive.”

He continued, “Ultimately … it’s about climate, it’s about heat, it’s about things changing …” as he returned to the Inflation Reduction Act and its importance regarding carbon, renewables and helping the environment.

“But the water thing is a huge issue … we got through the ‘80s -’85, ‘86 – when we had pretty s***** years. This is worse than that.”

Tester believes the St. Mary’s diversion work helped prevent a disaster for farmers and ranchers with irrigated land. “We’ve got more work to do but it’s headed in the right direction.”

Returning to the issue of energy and supply issues, Senator Tester said, “[The Inflation Reduction Act] addresses the energy crisis from a supply side so it’s going to put more energy, the above energy, into the pipeline and that’s a positive. It’s not going to happen overnight but it’s going to happen over time and I think that’s positive.”

The act seeks to make the U.S. less reliant on Russia and China by expanding offshore oil and gas leasing in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico; ensuring the Department of the Interior continues offering oil and gas leases while also putting resources towards renewable energy on public lands, and increasing tax credits relating to renewables and job growth.

Tester also highlighted the bill’s intent to require Medicare to negotiate drug prices, capping out-of-pocket prescription drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries – including insulin – and expanding health care subsidies to prevent insurance cost increases.

“Everyone’s been talking about lowering the cost of prescription drug prices for a long time. We finally got that down. That’s gonna save particularly for our seniors …,” he said while adding the Medicare negotiations should set the standard for everyone, reducing costs across the board.”

On the subject of seniors and healthcare, Tester addressed the ongoing funding issues for assisted living and Valley View in Valley County.

“So I’m going to start out by saying care for our seniors is a big issue. We are an elderly state and it’s a big issue in Montana. It’s a big issue all over the country,” he began. “I think the Rescue Plan, and because of some good work done by the Valley County Commissioners by the way, they’ve been able to use some of those funds to keep Valley View there in Glasgow going which is important.”

Tester said with the federal funds made available to state and local authorities Valley View should remain afloat until the next legislative session when Medicare reimbursement rate adjustments can be addressed to better reflect the cost of assisted living.

“I think using the Rescue Plan dollars to protect the facility was critically important because if in fact your rest home closed down, reopening it becomes a much harder thing to do. Keeping it open until you can get to a point where you can get a long-term solution – which is what will happen I hope, with the Medicare reimbursement rates – then things will work out as we intended.”

The Inflation Reduction Act, according to information provided by the Senator’s office, is fully paid for legislation providing targeted resources to the above issues and others. Tester pointed out the work on healthcare and energy as being crucial to Montanans.

“… so it does all these things and a h***uva lot more.”

Senator Tester Talks Inflation Reduction Act – The Glasgow Courier