Viewpoints: Why Medicare Should Negotiate Drug Prices; What About That Cadillac Tax?
A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.
Medicare Shouldn't Pay More For Drugs When Others Pay Less
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump don’t see eye-to-eye on much. But they do agree that drug costs are spiraling out of control at the public’s expense. Both the Democratic and the Republican candidates for president have said that Medicare should be able to negotiate drug prices, something that currently isn’t allowed by law. Letting Medicare do that — which the Department of Veterans Affairs and other countries have been doing for years — has the potential to transform health care. ... Giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices would immediately save billions of dollars. The implications would also reach far beyond the 37 million Americans covered by the Medicare drug benefit (Part D), because commercial insurers often follow Medicare’s lead. (Brian C. Callaghan and Lindsey De Lott, 10/18)
Congress Shouldn’t Repeal The Cadillac Tax Without Replacing It
There are many provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that are ill advised and should be repealed immediately, but the “Cadillac” tax isn’t one of them. In fact, absent a better alternative, it shouldn’t be repealed at all. It’s likely to be the provision of the ACA that does the most to encourage higher-value and lower-cost health care, despite its flaws. (James C. Capretta, 10/19)
One-Time Pay Increase For Nursing Home Workers Not Enough
The thousands of aides who prepare food, clean rooms, and do laundry at about 400 nursing homes across Massachusetts are grossly underpaid. Many earn as little as $11 an hour. So there was reason to cheer late last month when Governor Charlie Baker reversed his earlier decision to exclude those and other support-staff employees from a share of a $35.5 million “wage add-on” inserted into the state budget specifically to benefit nursing home workers at the low end of the salary scale... In all, nearly 60,000 workers are eligible to receive payments — including better-compensated staffers such as registered nurses and licensed practical nurses — but there’s no formula to dictate how the money should be distributed. (10/20)
Obamacare Is Imperfect But Worth Building On
It has become commonplace to play political football with the Affordable Care Act. While the system isn’t perfect, it’s important that we take stock of the advances spurred by the ACA, acknowledge its shortcomings, and work together to construct a system that provides high-quality care and healthier results for all. Our country spends more money on health care than any other developed nation, yet we are less healthy and live shorter lives than a majority of our international counterparts. The ACA was created to address this paradox — to lower the skyrocketing cost of care, advance health-care quality and improve health outcomes. (Marcus Johnson, 10/19)
The Wall Street Journal:
A Better Way To Find Faulty Pacemakers
The U.S. government has spent a staggering 1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars to treat 375,000 Medicare patients who received faulty cardiac implants, an independent auditor reported this month. The review, conducted by the inspector general at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, took months to complete. It required painstaking detective work to tally the cost to patients and Medicare, even though it only involved seven models of cardiac implants out of the hundreds on the market. (Josh Rising, 10/19)
The New York Times:
Marijuana Lights Up State Ballots
People in nine states, including California, Florida and Massachusetts, will vote Nov. 8 on ballot proposals permitting recreational or medical use of marijuana. These initiatives could give a big push to legalization, prompting the next president and Congress to overhaul the country’s failed drug laws. (10/19)
The Star Tribune:
Six Actions Minnesota Can Take Now To Combat Health-Insurance Costs
About 6 percent of the population — mostly self-employed — composes a residual “pool” of people who must buy individual coverage, or pay a tax. This small “pool” is now comprised of higher-risk policyholders, as younger, healthier folks have continued without coverage rather than pay high premiums. The result? Rates have soared even higher for individuals in the pool who are mandated to buy health insurance. (Mike Hatch, 10/19)
The Loneliest Patients: When They Can't Make Decisions, Who Will?
For decades, public guardians — court-appointed decision-making advocates for patients who need them — have been held up as the ideal for such cases, but funding and other support have been inadequate. And in some places, Massachusetts included, there is no public guardianship. Here, how such decisions are made varies from hospital to hospital. Some rely on private guardians; some have learned to avoid guardians. (Paul McLean, 10/19)