In the first presidential debate, our president, Donald Trump, equated the cost of insulin with the cost of water. He claimed both were "cheap."

Mr. President: Today, in 2020, more than two million Americans lack access to running water, according to the U.S. Water Alliance.

In other words, they can't even pay to access water in their homes to drink, cook, bathe, grow food and maintain sanitary conditions.

Given our country's population, this means that 1 out of every 165 Americans lacks access to clean water.

This is a travesty, one that impacts Indigenous, Black, brown and poor people disproportionately.

Water is not free, nor is it cheap. It is without price, in a way.

Please commit to making not just insulin, but also water accessible — even free — for each of us.

• • •

The editorial "Insulin affordability remains a problem" (Oct. 6) rightly spotlights the high cost of insulin. However, it missed a key player contributing to the lack of affordable insulin and other lifesaving medications — Big Pharma.

Starting this summer, Big Pharma launched a "death by a thousand cuts" during the COVID-19 pandemic to weaken a popular program that reduces prescription drug costs for low-income patients. The program, known as the "340B program," dates back to 1992. Nearly 41,000 organizations ranging from Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to rural hospitals, participate in the program. Patients of these organizations can realize significant discounts on prescription drugs, such as insulin. For example, a patient reduced her three-month insulin supply cost from $3,000 to $88 because she uses an FQHC as her regular care source.

Big Pharma's range of tactics includes imposing onerous and arbitrary reporting requirements, refusing to provide specific medications to patients and restricting the number of pharmacies FQHC patients can access. This latter point means many rural Minnesotans will need to drive past the pharmacy in their town to another location miles away to pick up their prescriptions.

If Big Pharma's attacks on FQHCs continue, the White House's executive order referenced in the editorial may be a moot point. The president's order to ensure insulin is available to low-income patients will not happen if Big Pharma holds lifesaving medications hostage. Congress should act to stop these attacks on FQHCs under the 340B program.

Jonathan Watson, Minneapolis

The writer is CEO of the Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers.


These judges deserve to stay

District Court Judge Joseph Carter has served in Minnesota's First Judicial District (Dakota, Scott, Carver, McLeod, Goodhue, Sibley and LeSueur counties) since 2001. Judge Carter's entire career has been devoted to public service. Before he became a judge, he was both an assistant county attorney in Scott County and a public defender in Ramsey County. He also served low-income Minnesotans when worked for Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services.

Before his appointment as judge, he was chief public defender for the First Judicial District. As a judge in the First Judicial District for 19 years, he has experience presiding over every type of cases litigated in the District: criminal cases ranging from minor traffic matters to major felonies, and every variety of civil cases, from divorces to personal injuries and contract disputes.

His public supporters include former Minnesota Supreme Court Justices Alan Page, Paul Anderson, Kathleen Blatz, James Gilbert, Samuel Hanson, Eric Magnuson, Helen Meyer and Esther Tomlijanovich. Judge Carter has earned the endorsement of the Academy of Certified Trial Lawyers of Minnesota. Judge Joseph Carter is experienced, proven and deserves to be re-elected.

Dana McKenzie, Eagan
• • •

We are former or retired justices and judges from courts in Minnesota. We write in support of the re-election of Judge Pat Diamond as judge in the Ramsey County District Court (Second Judicial District).

Pat applied to be a judge through the Minnesota Judicial Selection Commission. The commission thoroughly vetted his application and background and determined that he met the high standards set by the commission for integrity, maturity, judicial temperament, diligence, legal knowledge, ability, experience and community service. The commission then recommended him to then-Governor Mark Dayton who, in 2012, appointed him to be a Ramsey County judge. The voters of Ramsey County elected Judge Diamond in 2014.

Before becoming a judge, Pat Diamond worked on criminal and civil matters in both the public sector and private practice. He was a key player in establishing the Domestic Abuse Service Center and helped to create the first Veterans Treatment Court in Minnesota. Since joining the bench, Judge Diamond has presided over thousands of cases and is currently the lead judge in Ramsey County's treatment courts — courts in which the criminal justice system has successfully helped individuals with mental health, drug and other issues turn their lives around.

We believe that Judge Diamond's demonstrated skills, compassion and dedication have served Minnesotans well and make his re-election a true benefit to the work of the Minnesota judiciary. We are proud to support Judge Diamond and believe he should continue serving Minnesotans in the Second Judicial District.

This letter was signed by former Supreme Court Justices Eric Magnuson, Sam Hanson and David Lillehaug, Former Court of Appeals Judge Harriet Lansing, Former District Court Judges James H. Clark, Jr., Michael Monahan, Robert Small and John B. Van de North.


We picked it on purpose, Walz

I suspect the reason Minnesotans often elect a divided state government is because we appreciate a counterbalance in our deliberations. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Due to party entrenchment, however, counterbalance has (somehow) become a matter of choice. But since Minnesota voters elected a Republican-controlled Senate, and a Democrat-controlled House, it's already been decided that we should hear from all parties. This year's rub is we've not.

To say that both houses of the Legislature counts for nothing is absurd by any standard, Minnesota's particularly. Yet Gov. Tim Walz has kept the Legislature on the sidelines and over the course of the year supplanted it as supreme lawmaker ("Walz extends state of emergency for coronavirus response," Oct. 8). Minnesotans vested the state Senate with a power that must not be divested to the governor. And yet that's exactly what's happened.

What's been destroyed by the emergency powers is the carefully wrought structure of a Constitution that deliberately divides power across three branches. The detrimental consequences to state governance and the people's goodwill will surely linger into next year and beyond.

I believe it was Gov. Rudy Perpich's sign that read, "None of us is as smart as all of us." Many Minnesotans would have liked someone in Washington who is devising a coronavirus strategy to take those words to heart. The Minnesota counterbalance adds, "Here, too."

Julia Bell, St. Paul

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