Bob Herman Mar 29
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Drug companies and benefit managers throw punches over drug prices

Carlos Delgado / AP

Pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy benefit managers are pointing fingers at each other to explain why patients are spending more out of their own wallets for their prescription drugs. The latest battle revolves around the list prices of drugs.

PhRMA's jab: A report Wednesday from the main drug industry lobbying group, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said half of out-of-pocket spending by people with commercial health insurance on brand-name prescription drugs comes from deductibles and coinsurance. Those are based on the drug's higher list price and do not factor in negotiated rebates. The health plans and pharmacy benefit managers "do not share these discounts with patients who pay a deductible or coinsurance," PhRMA said.

The counterpunch: The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents pharmacy benefit managers, quickly defended itself by saying the "simplest, most obvious way for drugmakers to reduce costs and improve access is to cut their prices."

Between the lines: Both sides raise valid concerns. Drug companies ultimately decide the prices of their products, and if they want patient cost-sharing to be lower, it would come at the expense of higher premiums. However, the middlemen are demanding bigger rebates in exchange for putting drugs on their formularies, which encourages drug companies to keep prices high to give bigger rebates. It's a vicious cycle on both ends of a profitable system.

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Trump: Transgender people "disqualified" from the military

SecDef Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford. Photo: Andrew Harrer-Pool / Getty Images

President Trump late Friday issued an order disqualifying most transgender people from serving in the military.

"[T]ransgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria -- individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery -- are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances."

Why it matters: Anything short of an inclusive policy for transgender troops will be viewed as a continuation of the ban Trump announced on Twitter in August.

Haley Britzky 9 hours ago
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Both Bush and Obama also requested line item veto power

Donald Trump.
Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Friday evening that to avoid having "this omnibus situation from ever happening again," he wants Congress to re-instate "a line-item veto."

Why it matters: This would allow him to veto specific parts of a bill without getting rid of the entire thing. Trump was deeply unhappy with the $1.3 trillion spending bill approved by Congress early Friday morning, but signed it anyway on Friday afternoon.