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From drug prices to gas prices to inflation and health care, a range of topics came out on top for readers of PolitiFact Wisconsin in April. Here’s a look at our "High Five," our feature that looks at the most-clicked items posted in the previous month.
1. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said: "The price of insulin has been jacked up by Big Drug Corporations."
Baldwin pinned the blame for high insulin prices on big drug corporations, but there are other factors involved in pricing and many points where prices – and profits – can be increased.
Karen Van Nuys, executive director of Value of Life Sciences Innovation at the University of Southern California, said in an email to PolitiFact Wisconsin that big drug corporations often get the blame for rising insulin prices, but research shows "they are actually not the culprits in this case."
"The amount manufacturers have been receiving per 100mL of insulin has actually been declining steadily over the last several years," Van Nuys said. "What has been increasing is the amount of money drug distribution intermediaries — pharmacies, pharmacy benefit managers, health plans and wholesalers — have been pocketing."
We rated Baldwin’s claim Half True.
2. An ad from a Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce affiliate claimed: Gov. Tony Evers "tried to make us pay even more at the pump by hiking the gas tax."
Drivers are taking a hit to the wallet as world events, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are causing crude oil prices to increase, sending gasoline prices to record-breaking levels.
In his first budget, Evers did propose an increase in the gas tax. But the WMC ad ignored what was coupled with it: A move to eliminate the state’s "minimum markup" law as it relates to gasoline, which Evers and his office argued would be a net reduction for drivers.
The inclusion of the elimination of the minimum markup law for gasoline in the plan undermines the idea that Evers was trying to make consumers pay more. At the same time, it was – and remains – far from clear that the elimination would have reduced prices in the long run. And we have already seen, with inflation, that much of that initial savings would have been eaten up.
For a statement that is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context, our rating was Half True.
3. U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, said: "Inflation has gone up every month of the Biden presidency and just hit another 40-year high."
Prices are increasing for everything from gas at the pump to the chicken at the grocery store. Looking at economic data, it’s true that the rate of inflation is the highest it’s been since the 1980s. And inflation has, indeed, been on the rise under Biden – though Gallagher glosses over a slight plateau in mid-2021.
What’s more, the increase – which, to be sure, has gotten much steeper – began before Biden was sworn in, under former President Donald Trump.
That leaves us with a claim that is accurate, but needs clarification or additional information. That’s what we call Mostly True.
4. Republican candidate for governor Kevin Nicholson said: "Over the course of two months, Tony Evers refused to remove (Curtis Schmitt Jr.) from the (state’s veterans) Board despite having the authority to do (so)."
In late March 2022, the chairman of Wisconsin’s veterans board agreed to resign after being charged with possession of child pornography in January.
Curtis Schmitt Jr.’s resignation came after Nicholson urged his removal in a letter to Evers. In the letter, Nicholson blasted Evers for not removing Schmitt earlier.
But the Evers administration says they made several unsuccessful attempts to get Schmitt to leave voluntarily — their only option without a taxpayer complaint and a hearing. Nicholson’s letter itself, two months after news broke, was what would have been enough to trigger a formal removal process.
We rated this claim False.
5. Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, a Democrat who’s vying to unseat GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson this fall, said: "Ron Johnson is trying to let insurance companies deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions like cancer, depression, pregnancy, diabetes — or even COVID."
We found Godlewski was off-base on Johnson’s view on coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. Johnson is not a fan of the Affordable Care Act, which includes a key provision that prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
Johnson did cast a vote in 2017 for legislation that could have allowed insurance companies to have plans that denied people with pre-existing conditions coverage. But — to get technical — all of those companies would also have had to have at least one plan that did cover people with pre-existing conditions, even if it was likely to end up being expensive.
Meanwhile, Johnson has said consistently that he aims to protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, even if it’s not through the Affordable Care Act.
We rated Godlewski’s claim Mostly False.