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Posts Tagged ‘health care’
October 25th, 2018 at 2:09 pm
HHS Prepares to Commit Unforced Error On Drug Price Disclosure Mandate
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Healthcare costs, including pharmaceutical costs, remain a legitimate concern.  But the Trump Administration Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is about to commit a needless unforced error.

The issue in question is an effort to force pharmaceutical companies to announce “list price” of drugs that they advertise.

A similar effort was recently introduced as legislation in Congress by Senator Dick Durbin (D – Illinois), which is itself proof of the wrongfulness of the idea.  A coalition of conservative and libertarian voices, including CFIF, stopped Senator Durbin’s effort.  But for some reason the HHS announced intent to impose the mandate via regulation, reminiscent of Barack Obama’s “pen and phone” manner of presiding.

Here’s why this is a terrible idea.

First, a drug’s “list price” is more likely to confuse consumers than enlighten them.  The reason is that what consumers actually pay for a drug is almost always very different, and much lower, than its list price.  Most patients’ drugs are subsidized by co-pays or co-insurance programs, whether via Medicare, Medicaid or insurance companies.  Insurance companies themselves typically don’t even pay the full list price, since they also receive various rebates and discounts from pharmaceutical sellers.  Overall, approximately 9 out of 10 consumers pay below the technical list price.  Consequently, compelling advertisers to state the list price in ads would mislead consumers into assuming that their out-of-pocket cost would be higher than they price they’d actually pay.

That hardly advances the goal of informing consumers.

An even more fundamental problem with the contemplated HHS mandate is that it would violate the First Amendment by compelling speech.

Under First Amendment free speech application, including commercial speech, courts strictly scrutinize any effort by government to force private citizens or entities to what it wants them to say.  Only where the compelled speech is purely factual and non-controversial will allow exceptions to the general prohibition against compulsory words.  As noted above, a drug’s list price doesn’t qualify as purely factual for purposes of informing consumers, because consumers rarely pay that price.  Nor does the HHS proposal qualify as non-controversial, for obvious reasons.

Accordingly, a government attempt to force advertisers to state prices that are higher than what almost all consumers actually pay can’t withstand First Amendment scrutiny, and will be struck down when challenged in court.

Finally, the HHS doesn’t even possess authority to impose this proposed mandate.  That authority under Congressional statute instead lies with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Proponents of the HHS mandate assert that the Social Security Act provides a loophole to force this proposal upon the pharmaceutical market, but that too won’t withstand court scrutiny.

For all of these reasons, the HHS proposal to engage in compulsory speech, speech that isn’t even accurate or informative, is a head-scratcher.  Hopefully it will reconsider this ill-advised effort sooner rather than later, and pursue more effective ways of reducing pharmaceutical and healthcare costs.

July 13th, 2018 at 9:37 am
The Price and Importance of Innovation

America’s pharmaceutical innovators lead the world, saving and improving people’s lives on a daily basis.  But relentless efforts to move toward a single-payer system and impose destructive price controls threaten our continuing progress.

Drug maker Biogen recently announced exciting results of a clinical trial for a new drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Yet, despite the promise that this could be a breakthrough that gets us closer to a cure, the medical community and families with loved ones suffering from the disease are holding their collective breath.

Why? Because we’ve been down this road before.

Alzheimer’s is one of the most complex and pernicious medical conditions that we face, with no known cure and an immense emotional and economic toll. Worse, the rate of diagnosis is increasing and estimates suggest the cost of the disease has already surpassed $259 billion.  According to one Alzheimer’s Association spokesperson, it will “bankrupt Medicare.” By 2050, the cost of care for Alzheimer’s patients could exceed $1 trillion annually.

That is a crisis medical professionals are rushing to solve, but progress has been slow. An estimated 99.6 percent of Alzheimer’s drug “candidates” (i.e. experimental drugs designed to treat Alzheimer’s) fail.

In 2018 alone, high profile failures in Phase 3 clinical trials from drug makers like Eli Lilly and Merck represent decades of work and hundreds of millions of dollars in research yielding little to no results. Even Biogen’s announcement, as promising as it is, has only a 50 percent chance of gaining FDA approval, according to analysts.

The issue of high drug prices is real, but too often the public doesn’t understand the immense risk – and cost pharmaceutical companies take on to research and develop new treatments for devastating diseases like Alzheimer’s. While everyone hopes Biogen’s new drug is a success, many drugs – including many recent potential treatments for Alzheimer’s – never make it through the clinical trials to market. What’s worse, the lack of transparency in our health care payment system drives costs up even further.

Drug makers invest hundreds of millions of dollars and more into developing new treatments and cures, with no guarantees their research and development will yield results.  That risk must be protected to ensure the continued motivation to strive for better treatments and new cures.

Efforts to cap prices and leverage government buying power via a single-payer system threaten to curtail research and delay or eliminate future cures. It’s a gamble that the United States cannot make, both for our own health and for future generations.

June 14th, 2018 at 3:33 pm
President Trump’s Prescription Drug Reforms Already Showing Progress
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It’s been just one month since President Trump unveiled his American Patients First plan to reduce drug prices and, despite the naysayers, we’re already seeing results.

This week, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar appeared before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee to provide detail on the progress that has already occurred.  His testimony extended over two hours, and Sec. Azar answered tough questions from both Democrats and Republicans, reiterating some key parts of the President’s plan.  Among other important testimony, he highlighted the transparency failures of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) and stressed the need to increase competition throughout the market to bring prices down.

That stands to reason, since President Trump’s plan pays special attention to PBMs – “middlemen” that operate in the opaque prescription drug pipeline – who negotiate with insurers, drug manufacturers and pharmacists to bring drugs to market.  As Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) pointed out in the hearing, the way in which PBMs earn profits creates an “incentive for higher list prices,” further driving up the price of prescriptions throughout the industry.

Accordingly, President Trump’s plan deliberately opens up this opaque system, providing greater information to all parties to stop what Sec. Azar characterized as the “perverse” incentives in the system.  By removing the ability for PBMs to profit from price increases, the President’s plan allows the natural downward pressures of the market to take hold, eliminating another driver of cost that consumers feel at the pharmacy counter.  Secretary Azar described the blueprint as a “comprehensive tackling and restructuring of the drug channel, nothing short of that,” further evidence of the President’s bold commitment to this issue.

Senator Collins continued to highlight PBM abuses, explaining how PBMs often employ “gag clauses” that prevent pharmacists from helping consumers to find the best price for their medication.  Those clauses are widely used to help PBMs maximize their profits, but the Trump Administration has already taken action to ensure that contracts with CMS cannot employ gag clauses.

Secretary Azar also explained how the President’s plan will bring greater competition to Medicare Part B, modeled on the success of the Part D program.  Currently, the federal government purchases drugs for Part B at the list price, costing the program billions in extra costs.  In contrast, Medicare Part D allows private companies to negotiate and manage plans to keep costs low.

Secretary Azar further explained to Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) that President Trump’s plan proposes greater negotiation between private-sector actors to help lower costs down across the program.  Nevertheless, Sec. Azar cautioned that, due to the size and complexity of the program, the President’s plan purposefully remains open on that issue, so that the Administration can work with Congress and other stakeholders to ensure that these competitive reforms are implemented without harming existing enrollees.

Those actions, along with an overall increase in transparency in the marketplace for all parties to bring more information and competition, are already at work.  President Trump’s plan works because it finally addresses the real drivers of cost, and removes the barriers that are stopping free market forces from bringing costs down.  On that basis, Sec. Azar’s testimony shows us that we are finally on the right path to bring prices down.

February 5th, 2017 at 10:05 am
The Pressing Opioid Epidemic
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In an interview with CFIF, Sally Satel, M.D., Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, discusses how to treat America’s pressing opioid epidemic, mental health policies, and political trends in medicine.

Listen to the interview here.

January 13th, 2017 at 2:37 pm
ObamaCare: Repeal and Replace, Not Repeal and Delay
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In an interview with CFIF, Sally Pipes, President and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, discusses the fate of ObamaCare, why Congress should not delay ObamaCare’s repeal and different options for its replacement.

Listen to the interview here.

November 29th, 2016 at 9:16 am
How ObamaCare is Severely Harming Americans Nationwide
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In an interview with CFIF, Jim Martin, Chairman of 60 Plus Association, discusses skyrocketing healthcare premiums, ObamaCare’s march toward full government control over our healthcare system, and the issue of physician and nursing shortages.

Listen to the interview here.

October 31st, 2016 at 11:35 am
ObamaCare’s October Surprise
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In an interview with CFIF, Sally Pipes, President and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, discusses the latest bad news regarding ObamaCare premiums and options, what the presidential candidates propose we do about ObamaCare, and Representative Warren Davidson’s (R-OH) “Lead by Example Act,” which proposes lawmakers sign up for medical care exclusively through the VA.

Listen to the interview here.

October 31st, 2016 at 11:01 am
Ramirez Cartoon: These Scare the Heck Out of Me
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

October 3rd, 2016 at 2:49 pm
Image of the Day: ObamaCare Less Popular Than System In Place Before
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From broken promises to fewer choices to higher costs to tens of millions still uninsured, ObamaCare has been a disaster.   Its defenders insist that it’s still better than we had before, but Americans disagree:

Americans Prefer Pre-ObamaCare Healthcare System

Americans Prefer Pre-ObamaCare Healthcare Syst

November 10th, 2015 at 8:59 am
Ramirez Cartoon: ObamaCare Costs
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

June 22nd, 2015 at 3:05 pm
Healthcare Scares: ObamaCare, Government Regulations, and Bioterrorism
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In an interview with CFIF, Robert King, Healthcare Correspondent for the Washington Examiner, discusses King v. Burwell, ObamaCare’s impact on small businesses, prescription drugs and government intervention, and whether America is ready for a bioterror attack.

Listen to the interview here.

June 22nd, 2015 at 7:56 am
Video: The Wisdom of Justice Obama
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CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses how President Obama’s rhetoric regarding ObamaCare and the challenge currently before the Supreme Court to the law’s subsidies is both unseemly and not presidential.

June 12th, 2015 at 12:55 pm
Podcast: How Pointless Regulations Hurt Patients
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Thomas P. Stossel, M.D., American Enterprise Institute Scholar, discusses his book Pharmaphobia: How the Conflict of Interest Myth Undermines American Medical Innovation, how heavy regulation makes medical innovation difficult and expensive, and how bureaucrats, reporters, politicians, and predatory lawyers have built careers attacking the medical products industry.

Listen to the interview here.

May 22nd, 2015 at 12:23 pm
Clock Ticking Down on SCOTUS’ Decision On ObamaCare Subsidies
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Ashton Ellis, CFIF Contributing Editor, discusses what Congress should do if the Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare subsidies for health insurance purchased on exchanges set up by the federal government, why some Americans had to pay back the IRS for ObamaCare subsidies, and the negative implications of ObamaCare across the nation.

Listen to the interview here.

February 20th, 2015 at 8:22 am
How Physicians Can Help Reform Healthcare
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In an interview with CFIF, Dr. Gerard Gianoli, a Neuro-otologist in Louisiana and Doc Squads member, discusses how it is time for America’s doctors to put forward innovative solutions to solve the problems in our healthcare system that have only been made worse by ObamaCare, and how to say goodbye to third-party medical payments through alternative practice models.

Listen to the interview here.

December 19th, 2014 at 10:28 am
Podcast: 46% of Doctors Give ObamaCare a “D” or “F” Grade
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In an interview with CFIF, Dr. Jeffrey Singer, Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute and Doc Squads Member, discusses the “2014 Survey of American Physicians,” how ObamaCare is disrupting the doctor-patient relationship and worsening the quality of patients’ care, and how increased use of emergency rooms result in a hidden tax.

Listen to the interview here.

October 31st, 2014 at 9:47 am
ObamaScare: The ObamaCare Nightmare Continues
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In an interview with CFIF, Sally Pipes, President and the Taube Fellow in Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute, discusses how the nightmare continues with the second open enrollment season for ObamaCare commencing November 15th, days after the mid-term elections, and why ObamaCare may be on shaky ground as court battles loom.

Listen to the interview here.

September 26th, 2014 at 10:46 am
Video: Why ObamaCare Still Matters
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In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino explains why ObamaCare still matters and why the American people must continue to hold their representatives in Congress accountable on the issue.

August 17th, 2014 at 11:46 am
Why We Shouldn’t Be Blind to the Barriers of Preventative Medicine
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In an interview with CFIF, Dr. Sunil Gupta, founder, chairman and chief medical officer of IRIS, discusses how barriers to medical care and access to the latest technologies are delaying preventative screening for Diabetic Retinopathy, a leading cause of preventable blindness in the United States in people 20 to 65 years of age.

Listen to the interview here.

July 30th, 2014 at 3:06 pm
Aetna CEO: ObamaCare “really not an affordable product”

In an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” this morning, Mark Bertolini, the Chairman and CEO of Aetna, explained that ObamaCare is “really not an affordable product for a lot of people.” He goes on to say that we “have to have a more affordable system.”