Spending on prescription drugs was nearly flat during President Trump’s first year in office, according to the latest report from nonpartisan government actuaries.
In 2017, drug spending rose by 0.4 percent to $333.4 billion, the Office of the Actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported Thursday. That was the lowest rate of growth in prescription drug spending since 2012, when it was 0.2 percent.
The slowdown in drug spending had begun in 2016, during former President Barack Obama’s final year, after rapid growth during the two previous years.
Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) supports expanding Medicare to people under 65, what’s known as single-payer or Medicare-for-all. But the big question is how to pay for all that health care. Ocasio-Cortez claimed on Twitter that $21 trillion in “Pentagon accounting errors” could have paid for 66 percent of the Medicare-for-all proposal.
However, that $21 trillion is not one big pot of dormant money collecting dust somewhere. It’s the sum of all transactions — both inflows and outflows — for which the Defense Department did not have adequate documentation. This means the same dollar could be accounted for many times. For this, the Washington Post gave Ocasio-Cortez four Pinocchios.
Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat who has become a darling of the progressive left, was quoting from an article in The Nation about “massive accounting fraud” committed by the Pentagon from 1998 to 2015. But her suggestion that the $21 trillion in military transactions could have “already” paid two-thirds the cost of a “Medicare for all” health care system goes beyond what the article reported — and is misleading.
The November elections left us with a lot to digest—it wasn’t the decisive “blue wave” that some were predicting, but the tea leaves did tell us some interesting things about what voters believe and value, particularly when it comes to healthcare.
Interestingly, pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies found a notable phenomenon in exit polls: in races where Democrats won GOP seats, the number one issue was healthcare. Whereas in races where Republicans won Dem seats, the number one issue was jobs and the economy.
Many observers dismiss single-payer health care as a political non-starter , but this traditional view ignores an explosion of support for the idea in recent years. In one recent poll, over 70 percent of Americans said they would support “a policy of Medicare for All”, including 85 percent of Democrats and even 52 percent of Republicans. A subsequent poll asked “do you support providing Medicare for every American” and found nearly identical results, including majorities of support from respondents in the South, those who live in rural areas, and those who say they “lean conservative.”
Momentum is building among House Democrats for a more moderate alternative to single-payer health-care legislation.
The legislation, which would allow people aged 50 to 65 to buy Medicare, is being championed by Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), who supported House Minority Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for Speaker in exchange for a commitment to work on his bill when Democrats take control of the House early next year.
Replacing our health care financing system with a single-payer system could have profound and unforeseeable consequences on the capacity of doctors, hospitals and other providers to deliver quality care. Substituting government financing for ESI would: 1.) Place fiscal burdens on taxpayers that the private sector now voluntarily bears; 2.) Require workers with ESI to pay more to finance care for others; and 3.) Eliminate the higher reimbursement rates that private insurers typically pay for medical care.
Progressive Democrats are pushing for a vote on a controversial health-care bill after the party takes control of the House early next year.
But the left’s push for “Medicare for all” legislation would likely divide Democrats and pose a headache for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi(D-CA), who is poised to become Speaker in the next Congress.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who is co-chair of the Medicare for All Caucus in the House, told supporters on an organizing call Tuesday night that simply expressing support for the idea is not enough.
Supporters say they are going to push for a vote and organize grass-roots efforts to pressure Democratic holdouts to sign on to the legislation. However, any floor vote would probably fail, with all Republicans and some Democrats rejecting the measure.
Republicans have a health-care checklist they would like to accomplish before losing their House majority early next year. But they’re well aware Democrats have little incentive to help them out — especially given the growing resistance top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi appears to be facing in her quest to assume the speakership.
Even still, some things to watch on the health policy front include: Reversing drugmakers’ extra “doughnut hole” contributions; passing the CREATES Act; and repealing the medical device tax.
In June the U.S. Food and Drug Administration convened a meeting around the problem of illegal opioids sold online and through social media.
“Millennials and those younger rely heavily on social media,” says Alex Khu, assistant director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Global Trade Investigations division. “Criminal organizations recognize that trend and we’re starting to see advertisements and sales of counterfeit or substandard prescription drugs on social media sites.”
At best, counterfeit medications aren’t what they are supposed to be, like sugar pills. At worst, they’re dangerous and even deadly, particularly when fentanyl is involved.