WAVERLY — U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley praised Hy-Vee for incentivizing people to get the coronavirus vaccine, but said Iowa doesn’t need a million-dollar lottery like Ohio’s to increase inoculations.
Hy-Vee is offering $10 gift cards to those who get vaccinated through November 1 and administers the vaccine in its pharmacies.
“To get the next 10 or 20% of the people in America vaccinated, we’re gonna have to work a little harder, and I compliment Hy-Vee for helping us work a little harder,” Grassley said during a stop at the Waverly Hy-Vee on Thursday afternoon.
The seven-term senator had asymptomatic COVID-19 in 2020 and was later vaccinated. He came to the Waverly “to thank the pharmacy employees personally for what they’ve done during the COVID pandemic and also during the vaccine rollout,” said Christina Gayman, director of public relations for Hy-Vee corporate.
Grassley briefly toured the store before meeting privately with employees.
“We’re at a point now in Iowa and throughout the nation where the percentage of people who are getting vaccinated on a weekly basis has decreased quite a bit,” Gayman said. “And so we’re hoping to provide some incentive for individuals to come on in and get vaccinated.”
Grassley said Iowa — which has fully vaccinated 43% of its population — doesn’t need governmental incentives like lotteries at this point, noting that will be Gov. Kim Reynolds’ decision.
“I don’t think anything ought to be dictated from Washington on this point,” he said. “If she decided to do it, I would back her up, naturally, because I want to get this virus under control. But I will just leave it up to her.”
Grassley is sponsoring a prescription drug pricing bill with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, and hopes to see it passed “this year or next year.”
“I think it’s a very legitimate approach,” Grassley said of the bill, which would tie drug prices to the consumer price index, eliminate the “donut hole” in Medicare Part D and put an annual cap on out-of-pocket costs.
Senate Democrats are pushing a different bill, but Grassley doesn’t think it can get the votes to pass.
“I think the Grassley-Wyden bill is the only bill that can get to the president of the United States,” he said.
Grassley continued to brush aside questions about whether he’ll seek an eighth term in office, repeating that he’ll make a decision this fall.
“I don’t think about it every day,” Grassley said. “I very much enjoy my work.”