Tag Archives: Medicare

Pharma Giants to Hike 350+ US Drug Prices in the New Year: Analysis

“Why? Because they can. Big Pharma does not care about us.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 12-30-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Images Money/flickr/CC

Global pharmaceutical giants plan to hike U.S. prices for hundreds of drugs next month in anticipation of the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, which will allow Medicare to negotiate the cost of certain drugs starting in 2026, an analysis published Friday revealed.

The analysis, conducted by the healthcare research company 3 Axis Advisors and reported on by Reuters, said that Big Pharma corporations including Pfizer, AstraZeneca PLC, and Sanofi SA are set to raise the list prices—which do not include any rebates—on over 350 drugs early in January. Continue reading

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As Scandals Mount, So Do Calls to Abolish Private Medicare Advantage Plans

“Problems with Medicare Advantage are systemic and widespread,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal. “Not only do they too often deny care—they’re ripping off taxpayers.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 12-13-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: K Whiteford/Public domain

As yet another scandal involving Medicare Advantage made headlines this week, progressive U.S. lawmakers and advocates renewed calls to abolish the private health insurance program that a recent Senate report said is “running amok” with “fraudsters and scam artists.”

In a new Nation article written with health insurance reform advocate Wendell Potter, Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) contend that one of the most confusing things facing elders while choosing their Medicare plans “is a scheme by private insurance companies to prey on seniors and profit off of the Medicare brand, all in the name of padding their corporate profits and shareholder returns.” Continue reading

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Lame-Duck Dems Must Lift Debt Limit, Advocates Say as GOP Doubles Down on Social Security Threats

“Democrats must do whatever it takes to defeat Republican attacks on our earned Social Security benefits,” said one advocate. “That means raising the debt ceiling this year, before Republicans take control of the House.”

By Julia Conley.  Published 11-30-2022 by Common Dreams

#StoptheShutdown Press Conference with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer in 2019. Photo: AFGE/flickr/CC

Progressives on Wednesday warned that time is running out for Democratic leaders to take Republicans at their word regarding slashes to social safety net programs, as U.S. Sen. John Thune indicated the GOP will use a potential fight over the debt ceiling next year as leverage to push cuts—unless the Democrats act now to raise the debt limit while they still control the Senate and House.

Thune (R-S.D.), who is the number-two Republican in the Senate as the chamber’s minority whip, told Bloomberg Tuesday that the party has a “long list” of policy priorities for the next Congress, which will commence on January 3. The party plans to put forward budget reforms including to federal programs which they have long claimed, erroneously, are unsustainable. Continue reading

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Austin AFL-CIO Council Becomes Latest to Urge Biden to End Medicare Privatization Scheme

The labor council’s newly passed resolution warns that the scheme “allows doctors and their offices to convert a patients’ traditional Medicare choice into ACO-REACH coverage without first informing their patients.”

By Jake Johnson  Published 11-21-2022 by Common Dreams

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

The labor council of the Austin, Texas AFL-CIO has passed a resolution urging the Biden administration to terminate a Medicare privatization scheme that is quietly moving ahead despite vocal opposition from doctors, seniors, and progressive lawmakers.

The pilot program, which inserts private middlemen between patients and healthcare providers, was unveiled with little notice during the final months of the Trump administration despite internal concerns about its legality. The experiment has since been largely upheld by the Biden administration, which announced mostly cosmetic changes earlier this year, winning applause from industry groups that lobbied against complete elimination of the program. Continue reading

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Patients Push Biden HHS to Act as Pharma Firm Charges $190K for Lifesaving Prostate Cancer Drug

“HHS can clearly insist on limiting the U.S. price of Xtandi to the median price for other large high-income countries,” said advocates, “particularly since the drug has already generated more than $10 billion in sales from Medicare alone based upon these unconscionable pricing disparities.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 11-20-2022 by Common Dreams

Screenshot: GlobalGiving

“Cancer does not wait, nor should cancer patients have to wait for years for their government to act.”

That’s the message patient advocates reiterated in a Friday letter asking the Biden administration to help them secure a lifesaving prostate cancer drug that costs nearly $190,000 per year despite its development being 100% taxpayer-funded.

Last year, prostate cancer patient Eric Sawyer petitioned U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to grant march-in rights—under which the government can grant patent licenses to companies other than a drug’s manufacturer—for enzalutamide, which is sold under the brand name Xtandi. Continue reading

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GOP Threatens to Hold Economy Hostage to Slash Climate Investments

“If Republicans take over Congress, they plan to hold the government hostage and ransom our future,” said one climate advocate.

By Jake Johnson  Published 10-25-2022 by Common Dreams

Screenshot: CNN

In addition to threatening cuts to Social Security and Medicare, congressional Republicans are reportedly plotting to use the debt ceiling and an end-of-year clash over government funding to target popular climate investments approved in August as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that “while some Republicans do favor brinkmanship over Medicare and Social Security… some aides and analysts think the GOP may be more likely to demand changes to other Democratic priorities.” Continue reading

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‘Believe Him,’ Say Critics, as McCarthy Signals GOP Plan to Attack Social Security, Medicare

“The future of Social Security and Medicare is on the ballot this November,” said one advocate. “Republicans, led by Kevin McCarthy, are united in a plot to reach into our pockets and steal our money.”

By Julia Conley  Published 10-18-2022 by Common Dreams

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Progressives on Tuesday warned that U.S. voters should take House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans at their word when they threaten to enact cuts to Social Security and Medicare despite the cost-of-living crisis that already has Americans struggling to afford healthcare and other essentials.

In an interview with Punchbowl News Tuesday, the California Republican outlined plans to use the expected fight over the raising of the debt ceiling next year as leverage to pass several austerity policies and block additional aid for Ukraine, as well as blocking pandemic-related spending. Continue reading

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‘Straight Up Fraud’: Data Confirms Private Insurers Use Medicare Advantage to Steal Billions

“The move to privatize Medicare,” said one expert, has “been very profitable, in part because insurers are good at making their patients seem sicker.”

By Kenny Stancil  Published 10=9-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: K Whiteford/Public domain

Insurance giants are exploiting Medicare Advantage—a corporate-managed program that threatens to result in the complete privatization of traditional Medicare—to capture billions of dollars in extra profits, Saturday reporting by The New York Times confirmed.

The newspaper’s analysis of dozens of lawsuits, inspector general reports, and watchdog investigations found that overbilling by Medicare Advantage (MA) providers is so pervasive it exceeds the budgets of entire federal agencies, prompting journalist Ryan Cooper to call the program “a straight up fraud scheme.” Continue reading

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Big Pharma Flooding Airwaves With Disinformation to Kill Drug Price Reform

“Powerful interest groups out there don’t want this legislation to succeed, so they’re pouring dark money into efforts to stop it,” said one Democratic senator.

By Jake Johnson  Published 7-29-2022 by Common Dreams

The group American Commitment is running ads in several states attacking Democrats’ plan to lower prescription drug prices. (Photo: Screengrab/American Commitment)

While its thousands of lobbyists work fervently on Capitol Hill, the pharmaceutical industry is flooding the airwaves in several states with deceptive ads in a last-ditch campaign to block Senate Democrats’ plan to curb the unchecked pricing power of drug corporations.

Included as part of a reconciliation package negotiated by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the proposal would require Medicare to negotiate the prices of a small number of drugs directly with pharmaceutical companies, which can currently drive up costs as they please—boosting their profits at the expense of patients. Continue reading

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