Category: Health Alerts

Celebrity Apprentice And Medical Innovation Have Something Important In Common

696012-f43ef348-7dbf-11e3-89a5-f01a1cd39a6c(A version of this Health Alert was published by Forbes.)

A new report should help President Trump find his way out of the confusion suggested by his very mixed signals on the role of medical innovation to American prosperity and patients. Last month, he said research-based drug-makers’ practices were “disastrous,” the industry was “getting away with murder,” and suggested the federal government should dictate prices of medicines.

A couple of weeks later, he told pharmaceutical executives: “You folks have done a terrific job over the years … The U.S. drug companies have produced extraordinary results…” To cap it off, he promised to end “global freeloading.” “Foreign price controls reduce the resources of American drug companies to finance drug R&D and innovation.”

High Drug Prices? Don’t Fall for ‘Fake News’ Blaming the Middleman

The tab for Americans’ prescription drugs is rising. High drug prices have not escaped notice by politicians, from Bernie Sanders to Senator Ted Cruz — including President Trump. Not all drug prices are outrageous, it’s really just a handful of over-priced drugs that have given the rest a bad name. Most of the drugs Americans take are affordable, but prices for a few drugs exceed the average mortgage payment.

Obamacare Is A Terrible Jobs Progam

doctor-with-family(A version of this Health Alert was published by American Thinker.)

As congressional Republicans embark on their promise to repeal and replace President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act, they are being overwhelmed by claims that imply it’s a jobs program.  Scholars affiliated with the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University estimate Obamacare repeal would kill 2.6 million jobs by 2019.  Almost a million jobs would be lost from health services, while the balance would be lost in construction, real estate, retail, finance, and insurance.

Unfortunately, such research relies on the so-called “multiplier effect,” a politically seductive but misleading type of voodoo economics.  It goes like this: Obamacare throws money at hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other health services.  Those recipients build new facilities and hire more workers, who spend their paychecks in their communities.  It is the same kind of research that developers seeking taxpayer-subsidized stadiums commission – and it is meaningless.

Bernie Sanders’ Single-Payer Utopia

Back in October I wrote “Is Obamacare’s Failure Intentional, to Promote Medicaid-for-All?”  In it I discussed how Bernie Sanders famously advocated for single-payer socialized medicine during his campaign. In 2011, the Vermont legislature passed a bill to create a single-payer initiative known as Green Mountain Care. In 2014 it was abandoned by Vermont’s governor — a Democrat — as being too costly. Green Mountain Care was going to require an 11.5 percent payroll tax and an additional sliding-scale income tax that topped out at 9.5 percent. Despite the heavy tax burden, a single-payer system in Vermont was projected to run deficits by 2020.

Massachusetts Governor Hiking Taxes To Rescue Failed Health Reform

(A version of this Health Alert was published by Forbes.)

Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts has proposed a tax of $2,000 per worker on businesses which do not offer health coverage to employees who become dependent on Medicaid. This makes him the second Republican governor of Massachusetts to buy into the notion that imposing taxes (or fines or penalties or fees) on individuals and businesses can force them to accept responsibility for government failure at getting health spending under control.

image017bEvidence from Massachusetts and the nation shows the opposite is true. Yesterday, I testified on the effect of Obamacare’s individual mandate before the Oversight Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee. (The video is at this link, and my written testimony is at this link.)

I was joined on the panel of witnesses by Dr. John E. McDonough of Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Professor McDonough was a central figure in Governor Mitt Romney’s 2006 Massachusetts health reform, where the individual mandate was first implemented. Governor Romney tried to label it a “conservative” or “Republican” idea. The spin was that the mandate characterized individual responsibility.

The reality is the mandate merely camouflages significant growth of government spending and control over health insurance. This has been the case in Massachusetts since day one: Spending has grown out of control despite many failed efforts to bend the cost curve.

Trump Disembowels Obamacare… Slowly and Painfully

InsFormSmallOn the day of his inauguration, President Trump took time out to issue an executive order directing his administration to drag its feet enforcing provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Regulators were instructed to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay…” whenever possible to the “maximum extent of the law.” Many believe this move was intended to destabilize the ACA and hasten its demise without Republicans getting blamed.

Obamacare’s Individual Mandate Very Inefficient

Healthcaredotgov(A version of this Health Alert was published by Forbes.)

Next Tuesday afternoon, I am scheduled to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee on Obamacare’s individual mandate that almost all Americans maintain health insurance.

This is Obamacare’s least popular feature. It was the subject of the 2012 lawsuit asserting Obamacare was unconstitutional: Never before had the federal government forced any resident to buy a good or service from a private business. The people lost that argument. Nevertheless, Republicans have pledged to eliminate the individual mandate. This commitment remains good politics. However, it is also good economics.

Advice to Trump: Leave Medicare Drug Prices to the Free Market

President-elect Donald Trump has bashed drug prices on numerous occasions. During his campaign, he championed the idea of having the government directly negotiate the price of Medicare drugs for Part D drug plans. Trump seemingly dropped the idea later in his campaign only to resurrect it again mid-January. Many Democrats also believe the government could secure a lower price for the drugs Medicare reimburses on seniors’ behalf. However, Republicans have long opposed the idea of government meddling in private markets and codified a non-interference clause in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.

Veterans Deserve Better Health Care

man-in-wheelchair(A version of this Health Alert was syndicated by the Tribune News Service.)

President-elect Trump has nominated David Shulkin, MD, to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs. In 2015, Doctor Shulkin was nominated by President Obama to be Under Secretary of Health in the VA (the position he currently holds). It is an interesting choice, not only because Mr. Trump is calling on an Obama appointee to take the top job in the VA, but also because it recognizes veterans’ health care is the major pain point in the department.

Congress Should Take Steps to Make Drugs More Affordable

gencompAs Republicans squabble about how to repeal & replace Obamacare, lost in the debate is the way most Americans actually access our health care system. In any given year, most people don’t ride in the back of an ambulance heading to the ER. Nor do they convalesce in a hospital bed. Most of the medical care Americans receive is not even provided in doctors’ offices. The most common way Americans access our health care system is by taking a pill.