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The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
In one of the most amazing turnabouts ever in Washington, PhRMA went from full-throated opposition to ObamaCare to full-throated support – in just a matter of months.
On November 14, 2008, just a week after the election, the Washington Times reported that, “The nation’s largest pharmaceutical lobbying group is preparing a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign to tout the importance of free-market health care and undercut an expected push by the Obama administration for price controls of prescription drugs.” The article went on, “the stakes are especially high for drugmakers, which stand to lose as much as $30 billion in revenue if President-elect Barack Obama’s plan to let the federal government negotiate Medicare drug prices is implemented.”
Just nine months later, in August 2009, the publication Medical Marketing & Media was reporting just the opposite – “PhRMA will launch a big advertising push for healthcare reform later this week, with TV spots airing in key states and on cable channels nationally.” The story continues, “News outlets including The New York Times and the Associated Press put spending on the ads in the range of $150 million – a figure that PhRMA SVP Ken Johnson called speculative.”
What happened? The story quotes PhRMA president Bill Tauzin, “We were assured (by the White House): ‘We need somebody to come in first. If you come in first, you will have a rock-solid deal.'”
Apparently, PhRMA agreed to $80 billion in cuts aimed at filling the Medicare drug program’s “donut hole” and to spend $150 million in advertising to support Obama in exchange for a pledge that the White House would oppose price controls and re-importing drugs. This was probably the best deal of the lot. There was a direct quid pro quo and each side got what it wanted – for now.
Problem is, of course, that these deals don’t last. Deals with the Devil never do. There is already pressure from the left to scuttle this deal, as witnessed in a report that ran on Air America that called this deal the “absolute fascist nightmare.” And meanwhile, the rest of us are left in the dust, subject to all the mandates, taxes, and penalties of the rest of the legislation.
|November 14, 2008
August 10, 2009
Editor’s note: Interesting story about lab test costs. Question. Are these claims without or without insurance coverage?
The name of one fast-growing chain of walk-in labs encapsulates the field’s business model, Any Lab Test Now. The company says it can generally have testing results within 24 hours and at a cost that is as much as 80 percent less than going through a doctor.
As Lee Bowman of Scripps Howard News Service reports, a growing number of Americans are bypassing doctors and going directly to online and storefront labs for diagnostic testing. Most often they pay for these tests out of their own pocket. The results may persuade the consumer to pursue the matter further with a personal physician but, in any case, the consumer is in charge of who sees the results.
- The number of adult visits to primary care doctors increased 10%, from 273 million to 338 million annually
- The mean duration of an adult primary care visit increased by 16%, from 18.0 to 20.8 minutes
- Regular check-up: mean increase of 3.4 minutes
- Diagnosis of diabetes: mean increase of 4.2 minutes
- High blood pressure: mean increase of 3.7 minutes
- Diagnosis of joint disease: mean increase of 5.9 minutes
- Quality of care also improved according to nine medical, counseling and screening indicators
- Counseling or screening by doctors took 2.6 to 4.2 minutes longer than visits without these services.
Source: “Primary Care Visit Duration and Quality: Does Good Care Take Longer?”, Archives of Internal Medicine, abstract only, November 9, 2009, http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/169/20/1866?home
- A recent survey of almost 2,000 U.S. physicians found:
- 92% ranked tort reform as the top issue for any health reform legislation
- 78% wanted private insurance industry reform, including the elimination of pre-existing condition refusals, the elimination of dropped coverage (except in instances of fraud) and portability
- 67% wanted to allow professional, trade and industry associations to provide healthcare insurance to member groups
- 61% wanted to allow individuals to opt-out of Medicare or their employer-sponsored plan, and provide credits for them to purchase a plan on the individual market
- 54% wanted to create an insurance exchange that provides competition on health insurance plans
- 32% wanted a public option
- 22% wanted a single payor insurance system
- Source: “PHYSICIANS LOSING CONTROL OF MEDICINE,” Jackson Healthcare press release, November 5, 2009, http://www.jacksonhealthcare.com/news/md-survey-release-11-2009.aspx
Here is a post by Dick Quinn that is definitely worth the read.
As Dick effectively demonstrates, we are solving the wrong problem.
Parija B. Kavilanz
October 27, 2009
As baby boomers swell the ranks of Medicare, physicians worry more and more about Medicare payments rates. For the last 8 years, Congress has prevented scheduled cuts in Medicare payments to physicians. However, more and more doctors have stopped taking new Medicare patients because of concerns that the government-run program does not pay them enough to cover rising health care costs.
Editor’s note: With 6% remaining uninsured (300m x 6%) that’s 18 million uninsured, no tort reform, $829B more to pay in taxes, no demonstrated reduction in the rate of health care cost growth, a reduction in funding for Medicare, what are we getting?
Editor’s note: What percentage of premium do you think health insurers’ administrative costs represent? 5, 10, 20, 50%? The American Academy of Science have come out with a report on this topic.
Median Blue Cross health plan administrative costs represent about 10.4 percent of premium or $25.36 per member per month, according to data from the Sherlock Company. This article highlights plan administrative costs and notes expenses can vary significantly by product and market. The major administrative functions of a health plan include: marketing, provider and medical management, account and member administration and corporate services. (American Academy of Actuaries, 22 Sep 2009