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A last-minute agreement among lawmakers restored a provision seeking to hold down rising costs of prescription medicines. Although details on which drugs will be targeted remain sketchy, the legislation would help patients buying insulin and cap Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000 a year.
Democratic negotiators on Capitol Hill appear to be nearing a compromise on President Joe Biden’s social spending agenda, spurred partly by Democratic losses on Election Day in Virginia. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court hints it might allow abortion providers to sue Texas over its restrictive new ban. But the relief, if it comes, could be short-lived if the court uses a second case, challenging a law in Mississippi, to weaken or overturn Roe v. Wade. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times and Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Rae Ellen Bichell, who reported and wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” feature about an emergency bill for a nonemergency birth.
President Joe Biden unveiled a compromise “Build Back Better” framework shortly before taking off for key meetings in Europe, but it’s unclear whether the framework can win the votes of all Democrats in the House and Senate, and it leaves out some of the party’s health priorities, notably significant provisions to lower prescription drug prices. Meanwhile, younger children may soon be eligible for covid vaccines. Joanne Kenen of Politico and Johns Hopkins, Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet and Rachana Pradhan of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.
With an eye to shutting down Medicare drug price negotiations, drug companies and their lobbying groups gave roughly $1.6 million in the first six months of 2021, with Democrats edging closer than they have in a decade to Republicans’ total haul.
But Americans generally have little confidence that the White House or Congress will recommend the right thing, a new poll shows.
Despite big 2020 campaign promises to deliver lower costs on prescription drugs, Democrats have failed to unite around a legislative plan.
The ad, advanced by a right-leaning seniors advocacy organization, mischaracterizes proposals to bargain on drug prices, regarding both the effects on the Medicare program and on beneficiaries.
KHN and California Healthline staff made the rounds on national and local media this week to discuss their stories. Here’s a collection of their appearances.
Congress is back in session with a short time to finish a long to-do list, including keeping the government operating and paying its bills. Hanging in the balance is President Joe Biden’s entire domestic agenda, including major changes proposed for Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, the new Texas abortion law that bans the procedure early in pregnancy is prompting action in Washington. Joanne Kenen of Politico, Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also, Rovner interviews former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb about his new book on the covid-19 pandemic.
Biologic drugs, made from living organisms, and the cheaper biosimilar drugs that mimic them are more complex than chemical drugs and their generic counterparts. The Food and Drug Administration says biosimilars are as safe and effective as the biologics, and doctors agree — but they are cautious about changing the treatment regimen of patients doing well.
Democrats have hit a snag in their effort to compile a $3.5 trillion social-spending bill this fall — moderates are resisting support for Medicare drug price negotiation provisions that would pay for many of the measure’s health benefit improvements. Meanwhile, the new abortion restrictions in Texas have moved the divisive issue back to the political front burner. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Rachel Cohrs of Stat and Shefali Luthra of The 19th join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interview’s KHN’s Phil Galewitz about the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” installment, about two similar jaw surgeries with very different price tags.
Kaiser Health News gives readers a chance to comment on a recent batch of stories.
As the delta variant continues to spread around the U.S., the Biden administration is taking steps to authorize covid vaccine boosters, require nursing home workers to be vaccinated and protect school officials who want to require masks despite state laws banning those mandates. Meanwhile, the U.S. House is returning from its summer break early to start work on its giant budget bill, which includes a long list of health policy changes. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times and Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.
The U.S. Senate worked well into its scheduled August recess to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget blueprint that outlines a much larger bill — covering key health priorities — to be written this fall. Meanwhile, the latest surge of covid is making both employers and schools rethink their opening plans. Joanne Kenen of Politico, Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call and Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also, for “extra credit,” the panelists suggest their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read, too.
Congress tapped a national academies committee to examine a drug cost issue. It got a report that includes “egregious” failures to disclose conflicts of interest.
Pharmacy benefit managers have curtailed in-person audits of pharmacy claims during the pandemic, switching to virtual audits done by computer. That has markedly increased the number of claims they can review — and the chances for payment denials — squeezing pharmacies and bringing in more cash for the benefit companies.
The Medicare rule, designed by the Trump administration to take money away from drug industry brokers and provide refunds to patients, has not been implemented. But budget analysts say if it were, it would cost the government money. So senators are pushing the rule aside and claiming to save billions of dollars, which they want to use instead on new projects.
The makers of Aduhelm, a drug approved last month despite concerns raised by experts about its effectiveness, have launched a website and ads designed to urge people who are worried about their memory to ask doctors about testing. But some health advocates say it is misleading because some memory loss with aging is normal.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who is helping to negotiate the health care spending framework for the Democrats’ budget plan, said lawmakers may have to settle for very basic versions of programs deployed in the package. But the key, he added, is to get the “architecture of these changes, bold changes,” started and show people what is possible.
The July 9 directive addresses the importation of prescription drugs and broader efforts to reduce the high cost of medicines.