Situational awareness: Chuck Grassley has won a Grammy, and the federal government has charged 24 people for their alleged participation in a health care fraud scheme leading to $1.2 billion in losses. Choose your news.
Sens. Ron Wyden and Chuck Grassley at a Finance Committee hearing. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
While it's too soon to declare a drug pricing fire, yesterday saw several smoke signals as the push to lower drug prices inched forward.
The big picture: Lawmakers took real steps toward finding reforms that can gain bipartisan support, focusing on both drug manufacturers and members of the drug supply chain.
Yes, but: The Maryland bill originally allowed the board to set upper limits on what all plans would pay for certain drugs, but the state legislature watered it down — a win for the drug industry.
The bottom line: None of these measures are going to make a huge dent in total drug spending, and none of them take pharma head-on. But any bipartisan action on bills that the drug industry doesn't like is another step into a new political world.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Sen. Bernie Sanders will introduce a new version of "Medicare for All" today that's even more ambitious than his last one — which was already more ambitious than any other health care system on Earth, Axios' Sam Baker writes.
Sanders’ plan would move almost everyone — whether you’re on Medicare or Medicaid, buy insurance on your own through the Affordable Care Act, or get it through your job — into a single government-run program.
The other side: Taxes would go up. A lot. That’s the trade-off for eliminating premiums and deductibles. Sanders has not said which taxes he would raise.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little yesterday signed into law a bill adding work requirements and other addendums to the Medicaid expansion program approved by 61% of voters in November, the Idaho Statesman reports.
Go deeper: The bill may break the law in other ways too, according to the Statesman.
Doctors' salaries have increased 20% since 2015, according to a new Medscape report, outpacing pay among the general public.
Why it matters: In the health care system, one person's salary is another person's premium, co-pay, deductible, taxes ... you get the picture.
OxyContin pills. Photo: Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family — both of which are facing legal questions about their involvement in the opioid epidemic — made donations to Tufts University's medical school that may have helped advance their business interests, Stat News reports.
Experts told Stat that this isn't necessarily an example of a company buying influence, instead it points to a larger problem:
Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Merck and Abbott Laboratories collectively kept $7 billion in tax savings last year due to lower corporate tax rates and bringing home cash that was parked overseas, according to a new report from anti-poverty charity Oxfam.
Why it matters: The Republican tax law made it possible for the largest pharmaceutical companies to retain money that otherwise would have gone to public coffers, Axios' Bob Herman reports. But as Oxfam notes, there has not been a corresponding increase in drug development or lower drug prices.
The big picture: “These pharma giants are certainly not the only examples of multinational companies benefiting from the new US corporate tax regime,” Oxfam wrote in its report.
Go deeper: Read Oxfam's report
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