i9 Fact Check: Ad misleads viewers on Rep. Hinson’s rationale for insulin vote

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 6:23 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - An ad from an advocacy group, specifically a 501(c)(4), ties Rep. Ashley Hinson’s (R-01) votes on insulin prices to past investments in drug companies.

The ad uses Christian, who claims to be a family farmer in Clear Lake, as the narrator and central character for the 30-second TV spot. He said the cost of his insulin for his diabetes is around $500 and he can’t afford it.

According to documents from the Iowa Legislative Services Agency, Clear Lake isn’t currently in Rep. Hinson’s district. The first-term congresswoman would represent Clear Lake if she won reelection in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, which under redistricting makes up most of the 1st congressional district. State Senator Liz Mathis (D-Cedar Rapids) is running against Rep. Hinson for Iowa’s 2nd congressional district, which makes up most of northeastern Iowa.

Source: Unrig Our Economy

According to Unrig Our Economy’s website, the group says its goal is to create a better economy for people rather than corporations.

Unrig Our Economy is spending $4 Million on the TV ad campaign targeting Republicans in Iowa, California, Nebraska and New York.

Claim #1: “Ashley Hinson voted against capping insulin at $35 a month after investing in drug companies”

Analysis: This claim refers to Rep. Hinson’s vote on a bill in March 2022 that would have limited the cost of insulin products to $35 or 25% of a plan’s negotiated price, whichever is lower, for those covered under Medicare or private health insurance.

Known as the Affordable Insulin Now Act, it would give consumers a lower price on insulin. According to the Rand Corporation, the drug cost around $98 in 2018, according to the Rand Corporation. The California-based think tank said Insulin costs about $14 in Japan, $12 in Canada, and about $7.50 in the United Kingdom.

The Affordable Insulin Now Act also had other things included in the legislation like increasing funding for the Medicare Improvement Fund, which according to the Social Security Administration tries to make improvements to the original Medicare fee-for-service program under Parts A and B.

Lowering the cost of insulin was also considered in the Build Back Better Act, which Rep. Ashley Hinson also voted against. The Build Back Better Act had other things included in the legislation like free child care for children under six years old, mandate four weeks of paid family and medical leave and funding for multiple projects.

The ad ties Congresswoman Hinson’s vote against the Democratic bill to past investments in drug companies.

A spokesperson for Unrig Our Economy Iowa directed us to a woman from The Hub Project, which is an advocacy group based in Washington D.C. trying to create progressive change. Emily Leach, who is a senior communication manager at the Hub Project, told us it is using Congresswoman Hinson’s financial disclosure report and a periodic transaction report filed with the Clerk for the United States House of Representatives

Those reports show, about a year before the Affordable Insulin Now Act passed the house, Rep. Hinson sold stock in Heron Therapeutics. The amount was from $1,001 to $15,000 with capital gains of more than $200, according to documents.

Heron Therapeutics, according to its website has five products and none are related to insulin. Heron Therapeutics is the only individual drug company mentioned in those reports.

Those reports also show Rep. Hinson had money in an exchange traded fund through a traditional IRA, which has an emphasis on biotech. This is a managed fund, which invests in several companies within an industry.

Rep. Ashley Hinson told the Gazette she voted against the bill because she believes it would raise premiums for millions of Americans. The congresswoman also said in Op-Ed she supports another version of the cap on Insulin prices in a bill called the Lower Costs, More Cures Act, which would put a $50 cap on insulin prices along with many other changes.

Conclusion: The claim starts off true – Hinson voted against capping prices on Insulin. But, the ad connecting her vote to investments in a drug company not related to insulin and a basket of assets from an investment manager is misleading.   This is why we give this claim a D.