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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today applauded Dr. John C. Fleming on his U.S. Senate confirmation to be the assistant secretary of commerce for economic development.  In a show of bipartisan support, the Senate voted 67-30 in favor of the confirmation, with Sen. Kennedy casting a ‘yea’ vote.

“Dr. Fleming is a true public servant,” said Sen. Kennedy. “He’s dedicated his life to public service, both as a military veteran and as a four-term elected member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  And he’s just a great guy.   His qualifications speak for themselves.  He was overwhelmingly confirmed to this position by garnering support from Senators on both sides of the aisle.  I was proud to vote for him, and I’m happy to see such a deserving man be confirmed to such a distinguished position in the administration.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the Phair Pricing Act of 2019 to lower the costs of pharmaceutical drugs covered under Medicare Part D by ensuring that pharmacy benefit managers and prescription drug plan sponsors pass the savings they negotiate along to their customers 

U.S. Representative Doug Collins (R-Ga.) introduced a version of the same bill in the U.S. House of Representatives last month.

Under the Medicare Part D program, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) act as middlemen between pharmacies and insurers, negotiating price concessions from pharmacies that they are supposed to pass on to patients to lower the cost of drugs. 

However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has noted that these price concessions are rarely used to lower patients’ costs at the point of sale. The savings usually end up in the PBM’s profits.  This legislation directs all price reductions, incentive payments and adjustments between a PBM and a pharmacy be included at the point of sale to decrease the patients’ costs.

Furthermore, this legislation directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a working group of stakeholders to create quality standards based on a pharmacy’s practice.  These standards will help PBMs prioritize patient care.  

“If pharmacy benefit managers are negotiating prices with the intent to provide greater savings for consumers, then those savings better be given to the consumers rather than padding someone else’s pockets,” said Sen Kennedy. “This legislation promotes greater transparency and oversight of taxpayer dollars by ensuring that PBMs disclose all fees, price concessions and programs to CMS.”

“For too long, we have turned a blind eye as pharmacy middlemen have manipulated drug prices to maximize their profit margin” said Rep. Doug Collins.  “The Phair Pricing Act will guarantee patients at the pharmacy counter directly benefit from lower costs allegedly negotiated on their behalf. I’m thankful for Senator Kennedy’s leadership and I look forward to partnering with him to promote transparency in drug pricing and lower the cost of prescription drugs.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the Income Verification Act to reduce fraud in taxpayer-funded government assistance programs by requiring states to use federal tax information to verify income eligibility for these programs.  U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, M.D. (R-La.) introduced a version of the same bill in the U.S. House of Representatives today.

The Income Verification Act applies to Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). 

In November, a report by Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office revealed that 82 of 100 Medicaid recipients in a random sample did not financially qualify for the program.  The Legislative Auditor’s Office estimated that the state wasted as much as $85 million on ineligible Medicaid recipients. 

“Taxpayer money should never be spent willy-nilly,” said Sen. Kennedy. “We owe it to hardworking Americans to be responsible with their taxes instead of using the funds as giveaways to people who don’t financially qualify for assistance.  Right now, income verification for taxpayer-funded government assistance programs is optional.  This legislation will make it a requirement.   Unfortunately, Louisiana is a prime example of how badly we need this legislation.  That’s why I introduced this legislation to require every state to use federal income tax data to determine eligibility for Medicaid programs, welfare and food stamps.”

“Assistance fraud robs resources from people who are truly in need and insults the generosity of taxpayers who by and large want to help those down on their luck,” said Rep. Abraham. “Sadly, Louisiana has shown the nation exactly how to fail at administering at least one such program, Medicaid, by wasting at least $85 million - maybe more - on fraudulent payments, only checking eligibility years after the benefits were paid. Sen. Kennedy and I are working to fix such failures in the future by requiring that states verify eligibility for all assistance programs on the front end. This is common sense, but since that’s lacking within the government, we’re going to pass a law to require it.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), are urging U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson to “take immediate action” on issuing specific guidance regarding the duplication of benefits fix passed by Congress and signed into law in October.

“It is unacceptable that bureaucracy is further slowing the recovery efforts of many homeowners impacted by flooding in 2016,” write Kennedy and Cassidy. “Nearly 6,000 Louisianians are waiting for HUD to issue legal guidance to unlock access to CDBG recovery assistance. … Your department must quickly issue a policy to allow individuals to use CDBG funds for the specific purpose of paying back SBA disaster loans.”

Until HUD issues guidelines on legislation passed by Congress, Louisiana flood victims are blocked from receiving assistance because they obtained U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.

Sens. Kennedy and Cassidy are withholding their approval of two HUD nominees until the guidelines are issued.

The senators’ full letter is below.


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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today that Southern University in Baton Rouge will receive $5.6 million to improve drainage to help protect the campus’ electrical hub and roads from erosion and flooding.  Much of the three-year project will focus on areas around F and H streets.

“Sadly, our public universities in Louisiana are suffering from tremendous neglect,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “This money from FEMA will make Southern University safer for students and faculty.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) vowed to Bloomberg News Friday that he will chase Stanford International Bank assets “like a hound from hell” until victims of the Ponzi scheme are compensated for their losses.  It’s been 10 years since the scheme was revealed.  Thousands of people – including many Louisianans – lost their retirement savings.

In February, Sens. Kennedy and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) sent a letter to Stanford’s Swiss bank, Societe Generale, urging the release of $210 million in assets.

Click here or the photo below to watch Sen. Kennedy’s full interview with Bloomberg.

 

Highlights:

Allen Stanford: “This is a very sad situation. What Stanford did is unconscionable. He’s in prison. He’s got a 110-year sentence to serve. He deserves every year of it.”

Louisiana Victims: “These are not wealthy people, who were victimized here. I’m not excusing what happened in the Madoff Ponzi scheme, but these are not wealthy people these are just average Louisianans.”

Meeting with SEC Chairman: “Well they’ve got a lot of legal excuses.  I met with Jay Clayton, who is our SEC Chairman, doing a great job, met with him yesterday about this issue. He’s going to be in Louisiana over the next couple of months. We’re going to set a meeting with him and the lawyers, who are helping my people in Louisiana and many of those who were victimized by Standford. And we’re going to talk about this.”

Working with Sen. Cassidy: “Sen. Cassidy and I are just going to keep pounding them. We’re going to chase the bank like a hound from hell until we get this $210 million. They owe it. They need to pay it.

Helping Louisiana: “I’m going to talk further with the lawyers in Louisiana.  I want to help my people.  I mean this is the 10th anniversary. Yes, it was $7 billion for God’s sakes. Yes, the receivers recovered $500 or $600 million, but half of it went to the lawyers and went in fees. And you know - this is unconscionable.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) attended today’s oral arguments at the Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of the Bladensburg Peace Cross, a 100-year-old World War I memorial in Prince George’s County, Md.  This Supreme Court case, American Legion v. American Humanist Association, will determine if the cross-shaped memorial can legally sit on public property.  The memorial honors 49 local men who fought and died in World War I.

In August, Sen. Kennedy joined a group of 109 members of Congress in submitting an amicus brief to the Supreme Court that defended the existence of the memorial. 

“This memorial is not an infringement of freedom of religion.  It is a symbolic monument to those who fought in World War I,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “The First Amendment forbids the establishment of a national religion, but it also discourages hostility towards a particular religion.  Bulldozing memorials seems pretty hostile to me.  If the Supreme Court allows this memorial to be removed, then we risk setting a precedent of destroying every memorial, monument, building or tombstone on public property that references religious or Christian beliefs, and that would be just be plain wrong.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today that he is a co-sponsor of the ALS Disability Insurance Access Act to ensure ALS patients no longer have to wait five months before they can receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

 “ALS is a devastating diagnosis.   We shouldn’t ask sufferers to wait five months before receiving benefits that are rightfully theirs,” said Sen. Kennedy. “ALS is a cruel disease that robs people of the ability to do something as simple as talking.  It’s a disease that progresses quickly.  I’m proud to support a bill that provides ALS sufferers with a small bit of relief.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today demanded that the Louisiana Department of Health tell taxpayers how much money was wasted on approximately 37,000 Medicaid recipients who were later found to be ineligible because of their income levels.  Sen. Kennedy asked LDH to work with federal officials to recoup misspent money.  

The Associated Press reported on Feb. 21 that the state sent letters to thousands of Medicaid recipients after checking income records and finding that they didn’t qualify for the program because they make too much money.  The state only admitted to the mass mailing after The AP asked repeated questions.  Earlier this year, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) asked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to look into audits that showed money was misspent in Louisiana’s Medicaid program.  Among their concerns was that people with incomes exceeding $100,000 were allowed to enroll in Medicaid.

Sen. Kennedy will send his own letter to CMS this week based on the news report.  He will ask CMS to recoup misspent money from Medicaid patients and determine what went wrong.

“LDH only admitted to the problems with the income eligibility of thousands of Medicaid recipients after repeated questions from The Associated Press.  Sadly, this isn’t the first time Louisiana’s Medicaid program has been caught with ineligible people on the rolls.  Just last year, the Legislative Auditor’s Office estimated that Louisiana likely misspent $85 million on Medicaid recipients whose income levels should have disqualified them,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “The Edwards administration fought tooth and nail against legislation that would have allowed the Auditor’s Office to use tax returns to verify Medicaid recipients’ eligibility.  LDH should put out a welcome mat for the Auditor’s Office.  Medicaid is funded through the generosity of the American taxpayer.  Every single penny in funding is sacred.  That’s why I plan to ask CMS Administrator Seema Verma this week what can be done to recover the money that’s been lost to waste and incompetence.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the authorization of the Venture Global Calcasieu Pass liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility and a new pipeline in Cameron Parish.  These projects will create approximately 2,000 construction jobs and a $4.25 billion investment into Louisiana’s economy.  The projects were stalled for the past two months, and Sen. Kennedy has been working with the FERC to get the projects approved.

Venture Global is in the process of developing additional LNG projects in Plaquemines Parish.

“The oil and natural gas industry is the bread and butter of Louisiana’s economy,” said Sen. Kennedy. “The permit approval process is just like the rest of bureaucracy: burdensome and slow.  But after several months of negotiations we got these projects approved and thousands of jobs will come to Louisiana because of it.  This is a big win!” 

Statement from FERC Chairman Chatterjee:

“Since I joined the Commission, it’s been a priority of mine to expedite and improve our LNG terminal application review process,” said Chairman Chatterjee. “I’m extremely pleased that we are issuing the certificate order for the Calcasieu Pass LNG export terminal today. This facility will have the capacity to export 12 million metric tons of US LNG per year. But even more so, I really appreciate the efforts of my colleagues to work together to come to an agreement on this facility. This is significant, as I anticipate we’ll be able to use the framework developed in this order to evaluate the other LNG certificates that the Commission is considering.” 

 

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