Headlines in the News

The Politics of Medicaid Expansion Have Changed

November 13, 2019

Year by year, resistance to extending Medicaid to more low-income Americans in conservative states has given way. That trend seems likely to continue into 2020.

In some states, Democratic governors who favor expansion have replaced Republicans who were stalwart opponents. GOP critics have had a change of heart in some holdout states. And in several Republican-led states, citizen ballot initiatives are driving expansion.

Year by year, resistance to extending Medicaid to more low-income Americans in conservative states has given way. That trend seems likely to continue into 2020.

In some states, Democratic governors who favor expansion have replaced Republicans who were stalwart opponents. GOP critics have had a change of heart in some holdout states. And in several Republican-led states, citizen ballot initiatives are driving expansion.

Serious efforts are underway in Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina and Oklahoma that could add them to the 36 states, plus Washington, D.C., that have opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Three of those states adopted the expansion but have yet to implement the program….

Read the full PEW Stateline article

Trump Officials Making Changes to Signature Drug Pricing Proposal, Azar Says

November 13, 2019

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Wednesday said that the administration is changing one of its main proposals to lower drug prices because President Trump wants to go further.

The Trump administration last year proposed lowering certain Medicare drug prices by tying the prices to lower prices paid in other developed countries, an idea known as the International Pricing Index.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Wednesday said that the administration is changing one of its main proposals to lower drug prices because President Trump wants to go further.

The Trump administration last year proposed lowering certain Medicare drug prices by tying the prices to lower prices paid in other developed countries, an idea known as the International Pricing Index.

Under the original proposal, prices would still have been lower than they are now, but would still be a certain percentage higher than they are in other countries. Trump was not satisfied with that idea, Azar said Wednesday, and wanted the proposal changed so that prices in the United States are even lower than they are in other countries. “What we suggested was reducing that 180 percent premium [above other countries] by 30 percent,” Azar said at an event hosted by Axios. “The president did not find that satisfactory. His view, which he has articulated publicly, is that America ought to be getting the best deal among developed countries. That was the terminology of ‘most favored nation status.’ And so that’s the type of proposal we’re working on….”

Read the full The Hill article

Death of CEO Comes at a Time of Expansion, Big Bets for Kaiser Permanente

November 12, 2019

The unexpected death of Kaiser Permanente Chief Executive Bernard Tyson leaves the hospital and health-insurance giant in flux at a time of ambitious growth and it was met with shock by those who praised his work on public health and social issues.

The unexpected death of Kaiser Permanente Chief Executive Bernard Tyson leaves the hospital and health-insurance giant in flux at a time of ambitious growth and it was met with shock by those who praised his work on public health and social issues.

Kaiser, based in Oakland, Calif., gained heft as one of the nation’s largest hospital and health insurance systems with $83 billion in annual revenue under Mr. Tyson. He bet heavily on technology to reach more patients and set plans to expand Kaiser’s reach nationally….

Read the full The Wall Street Journal article

Trump Administration Sues Gilead, Maker of H.I.V.-Prevention Drugs

November 7, 2019

The Trump administration on Wednesday sued Gilead Sciences, a pharmaceutical company that sells H.I.V.-prevention drugs that can cost patients up to $20,000 a year, accusing the company of earning billions from research funded by taxpayers without paying taxpayers back.

The government said the company infringed upon patents owned by the Department of Health and Human Services, and had refused attempts by the department to license its patents and collect royalties. The company sells two drugs, Truvada and Descovy, that can be taken once daily to prevent H.I.V. infection, a strategy called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.

The Trump administration on Wednesday sued Gilead Sciences, a pharmaceutical company that sells H.I.V.-prevention drugs that can cost patients up to $20,000 a year, accusing the company of earning billions from research funded by taxpayers without paying taxpayers back.

The government said the company infringed upon patents owned by the Department of Health and Human Services, and had refused attempts by the department to license its patents and collect royalties. The company sells two drugs, Truvada and Descovy, that can be taken once daily to prevent H.I.V. infection, a strategy called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.

Wider access to PrEP is central to the government’s goal, announced in February, to reduce new H.I.V. infections by 75 percent over five years, and to “end the H.I.V. epidemic in America” by 2030. Critics have said the drug’s lofty price tag has limited its accessibility to high-risk people with low incomes, thwarting the government’s efforts….

Read the full The New York Times article

Why Democrats Keep Winning on Health Care

November 6, 2019

Voters in Virginia and Kentucky sent a clear message on health care Tuesday night: Medicaid expansion and preexisting conditions are winning issues for Democrats, even as President Donald Trump and his allies try to undercut Obamacare. And strident GOP attacks on abortion weren’t enough to stave off Republican losses.

Democrat Andy Beshear, who claimed victory in Kentucky’s tight gubernatorial race, and Virginia Democrats who took back control of the state legislature promised to defend Obamacare’s popular insurance protections for preexisting conditions, and they railed against Republican plans to contract the law’s expansion of Medicaid to millions of poor adults.

Voters in Virginia and Kentucky sent a clear message on health care Tuesday night: Medicaid expansion and preexisting conditions are winning issues for Democrats, even as President Donald Trump and his allies try to undercut Obamacare. And strident GOP attacks on abortion weren’t enough to stave off Republican losses.

Democrat Andy Beshear, who claimed victory in Kentucky’s tight gubernatorial race, and Virginia Democrats who took back control of the state legislature promised to defend Obamacare’s popular insurance protections for preexisting conditions, and they railed against Republican plans to contract the law’s expansion of Medicaid to millions of poor adults.

Here are four takeaways on how health care pushed Democrats over the top Tuesday night…

Read the full Politico article

CVS Gets a 3Q Booster Shot From Aetna as Revenue Soars

November 6, 2019

CVS Health revenue surged in the third quarter as the drugstore chain and pharmacy benefits manager added health insurance and pushed ahead with a plan to change how many of its stores operate.

The company said Wednesday its roughly $69 billion acquisition of the insurer Aetna helped its top line climb 36% in the quarter while earnings rose 10%.

Overall, CVS Health booked $1.53 billion in net income on $64.81 billion in revenue. Adjusted earnings totaled $1.84 per share.

CVS Health revenue surged in the third quarter as the drugstore chain and pharmacy benefits manager added health insurance and pushed ahead with a plan to change how many of its stores operate.

The company said Wednesday its roughly $69 billion acquisition of the insurer Aetna helped its top line climb 36% in the quarter while earnings rose 10%.

Overall, CVS Health booked $1.53 billion in net income on $64.81 billion in revenue. Adjusted earnings totaled $1.84 per share.

Those results easily topped Wall Street’s expectations for earnings of $1.77 per share on $63.03 billion in revenue, according to Zacks Investment Research….

Read the full The Associated Press article