From Politico

Drug Prices Persistently Rising Despite Trump Efforts

July 2, 2019

Prescription drug prices jumped 10.5 percent over the past six months, more slowly than during the same period last year but still four times faster than inflation, despite increasing pressure on drugmakers from the Trump administration and Congress.

However, the top drug brands in the U.S. saw prices rise by an average of only 3.1 percent over the past six months according to Bernstein analysts, who calculated the average based on which brands — usually the top-sellers — they cover.

Prescription drug prices jumped 10.5 percent over the past six months, more slowly than during the same period last year but still four times faster than inflation, despite increasing pressure on drugmakers from the Trump administration and Congress.

However, the top drug brands in the U.S. saw prices rise by an average of only 3.1 percent over the past six months according to Bernstein analysts, who calculated the average based on which brands — usually the top-sellers — they cover.

The data showing an overall leap in generic and brand-name prices was preliminary and may not give a clear picture of trends in the industry. Yet while many of the price hikes on Monday were for lower-cost drugs, and a handful of branded products fell in price, critics of the drug industry were quick to pounce….

Read the full Politico article

‘They’re All Fighting Him’: Trump Aides Spar With Health Secretary

June 19, 2019

White House officials have soured on HHS Secretary Alex Azar, a deepening quarrel that threatens to derail President Donald Trump’s health care agenda as he gears up for his 2020 reelection campaign.

The divide has led to stalled projects, disputes over Medicaid and fetal tissue research, duplicated work on Trump’s drug pricing priorities — and bitter personal attacks, say a dozen current and former White House and HHS officials as well as multiple other people familiar with the conversations.

White House officials have soured on HHS Secretary Alex Azar, a deepening quarrel that threatens to derail President Donald Trump’s health care agenda as he gears up for his 2020 reelection campaign.

The divide has led to stalled projects, disputes over Medicaid and fetal tissue research, duplicated work on Trump’s drug pricing priorities — and bitter personal attacks, say a dozen current and former White House and HHS officials as well as multiple other people familiar with the conversations.

The stakes are further heightened because health care is expected to play a crucial role in the 2020 election, and Trump has repeatedly pledged to soon unveil a plan that is higher quality and less expensive than Obamacare — an ambitious promise that his team of rivals is not ready to deliver on….

Read the full Politico article

Five Key Questions About the Country’s First Public Option Insurance

May 14, 2019

Washington state formally approved the public option this week, becoming the first state to test a policy that numerous Democratic presidential candidates — including the state’s governor — will tout on the campaign trail.

But the state’s work on the idea is just beginning, and it’s facing a major time crunch to get the plans launched by the legislation’s 2021 start date. State officials must wrestle with key questions about how to design the public plan to make it affordable enough to attract new customers, while ensuring enough hospitals and doctors will join its network.

Washington state formally approved the public option this week, becoming the first state to test a policy that numerous Democratic presidential candidates — including the state’s governor — will tout on the campaign trail.

But the state’s work on the idea is just beginning, and it’s facing a major time crunch to get the plans launched by the legislation’s 2021 start date. State officials must wrestle with key questions about how to design the public plan to make it affordable enough to attract new customers, while ensuring enough hospitals and doctors will join its network.

Here are some unresolved issues state officials will have to confront in the months ahead:

Who can buy the plans and will they be affordable?

Read the full Politico article

Conservative health care experiment leads to thousands losing coverage

December 30, 2018

Arkansas is throwing thousands of people off its Medicaid rolls each month for not complying with work requirements, blindsiding vulnerable residents panicked about losing their health coverage.

Views differ on the fairness of the unprecedented social experiment, but there’s unanimity here that it’s causing confusion. And that’s feeding a philosophical debate about whether low-income adults are ducking the work rules or just can’t navigate the tech-heavy reporting system that goes offline every night at 9 p.m.

Arkansas is throwing thousands of people off its Medicaid rolls each month for not complying with work requirements, blindsiding vulnerable residents panicked about losing their health coverage.

Views differ on the fairness of the unprecedented social experiment, but there’s unanimity here that it’s causing confusion. And that’s feeding a philosophical debate about whether low-income adults are ducking the work rules or just can’t navigate the tech-heavy reporting system that goes offline every night at 9 p.m.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson defended the program, saying it provides the help residents need to become independent. “These are not people that didn’t want to work,” he said in an interview. “It’s just they might not have had the training they needed, or they didn’t have a job opportunity and they needed additional assistance. And that’s what the objective is of the program.”

The state has removed more than 16,000 low-income adults for failing to log at least 80 hours of work, job training, volunteering or similar activity — including 4,655 in November….

Read the full Politico article

Red-state governor races could bring Medicaid expansion to millions

October 30, 2018

CONYERS, Ga. — Stacey Abrams paced the brightly lit pulpit of the Kingdom Builders Covenant Church on a cold, drizzly evening before Election Day, preaching the gospel of Medicaid expansion.

CONYERS, Ga. — Stacey Abrams paced the brightly lit pulpit of the Kingdom Builders Covenant Church on a cold, drizzly evening before Election Day, preaching the gospel of Medicaid expansion.

“When we help the least of these, we help everyone,” said the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, pointing her finger in the air as audience members swayed in their chairs, raised their hands and called out in assent. “Republicans are too mean and too cheap to take the money. But we know that health care is not a privilege in America. Health care is a right in America, and that is why I’m running.”…

Read the full Politico article