Good morning ... This is my kind of content: Look at all these businesses that are very obviously located in former Pizza Huts.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Pharmaceutical companies' stocks soared Friday when President Trump released his plan to curb prescription drug costs — and that's a pretty accurate assessment of how big a threat this proposal is.
It would mostly move costs around: There are few new steps in here to try to lower the sticker price of prescription drugs. It does call for increased competition from generics — a push that's already well underway at the Food and Drug Administration — but focuses most of its attention on middlemen.
Some of those goals are contradictory.
Real change is a long way away. The plan includes few immediate actions, and more calls to either study an issue or for Congress to act — both of which give industry more room to flex its lobbying muscle.
Some ideas may not work: Experts have already questioned whether parts of the plan are feasible — not just politically, but substantively.
One seemingly minor proposal from Trump's proposal helps explain how many steps are involved here, and how that complexity can lead to stasis.
The proposal: "Call on the FDA to evaluate the inclusion of list prices in direct-to-consumer advertising."
Breaking it down: Drugs' list prices absolutely matter, especially to the uninsured and people with high deductibles, who often have to pay at least some part of the list price before their coverage kicks in.
The big question: I asked Nick Bagley and Jonathan Adler — two law professors who are often on opposite sides of health care legal issues — whether there could be any First Amendment problems with requiring drug makers to disclose their list prices. Both said the government would be on solid ground.
Yes, but: With so many technical and policy questions, you can see how even this relatively simple proposal could end up not making it across the finish line.
The system is rocket science. It's unbelievably complex— Alex Azar, HHS secretary
Congressional districts that tend to vote Democratic generally have more people who are living in poverty and don't have health insurance, compared with districts that tend to vote Republican, Caitlin reports.
Between the lines: There's an obvious connection between poverty levels and the number of uninsured: Health insurance is expensive.
Check the interactive graphic here.
Earnings season is on — not just for for-profits but reports are trickling in for several of the largest not-for-profit hospital systems as well, Bob Herman reports.
The bottom line: Several hospitals, especially those with a lot of brand and/or market power, have stayed quite profitable in the face of stagnating or fewer admissions.
Case in point: Houston Methodist’s admissions in Q1 actually soared 7%, and the network more than doubled its operating profit to $61 million on more than a $1 billion of revenue.
What to watch: Catholic Health Initiatives, as the system is still hemorrhaging money ($35 million operating loss in Q1).
What we're watching this week: Senate health committee hearing Tuesday on the 340B drug discount program.
What else is on your radar? Let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.