20 thoughts on “News/Politics 6-26-17

  1. And people wonder why medical costs are skyrocketing. This is flat out robbery, and yet the insurance companies seem to be playing along, to various extents.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/how-2-common-drugs-became-a-dollar455-million-specialty-pill/ar-BBCWdoa?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=U452DHP

    “But back to the drugs. As an investigative reporter who has covered health care for more than a decade, the interaction was just the sort of thing to pique my interest. One thing I’ve learned is that almost nothing in medicine—especially brand-name drugs—is ever really a deal. When I got home, I looked up the drug: Vimovo.

    The drug has been controversial, to say the least. Vimovo was created using two readily and cheaply available generic, or over-the-counter, medicines: naproxen, also known by the brand name Aleve, and esomeprazole magnesium, also known as Nexium. The Aleve handles your pain, and the Nexium helps with the upset stomach that’s sometimes caused by the pain reliever. So what’s the key selling point of this new “convenience drug”? It’s easier to take one pill than two.

    But only a minority of patients get an upset stomach, and there was no indication I’d be one of them. Did I even need the Nexium component?

    Of course I also did the math. You can walk into your local drugstore and buy a month’s supply of Aleve and Nexium for about $40. For Vimovo, the pharmacy billed my insurance company $3,252. This doesn’t mean the drug company ultimately gets paid that much. The pharmaceutical world is rife with rebates and side deals—all designed to elbow ahead of the competition. But apparently the price of convenience comes at a steep mark-up.

    Think about it another way. Say you want to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day for a month. You could buy a big jar of peanut butter and a jar of grape jelly for less than 10 bucks. Or you could buy some of that stuff where they combine the peanut butter and grape jelly into the same jar. Smucker’s makes it. It’s called Goober. Except in this scenario, instead of its usual $3.50 price tag, Smucker’s is charging $565 for the jar of Goober.

    So if Vimovo is the Goober of drugs, then why have Americans been spending so much on it? My insurance company, smartly, rejected the pharmacy’s claim. But I knew Vimovo’s makers weren’t wooing doctors like mine for nothing. So I looked up the annual reports for the Ireland-based company, Horizon Pharma, which makes Vimovo. Since 2014, Vimovo’s net sales have been more than $455 million. That means a lot of insurers are paying way more than they should for their Goober.

    And Vimovo wasn’t Horizon’s only such drug. It has brought in an additional $465 million in net sales from Duexis, a similar convenience drug that combines ibuprofen and famotidine, aka Advil and Pepsid.”

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  2. Interesting, AJ. I am about to go across the street and buy gas. Why is it that the convenience store will not charge me $300.00 per gallon?

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  3. We’re all going to die! 😲

    Eventually anyway.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/pelosi-warns-hundreds-of-thousands-of-people-will-die-if-gop-health-bill-passes/ar-BBDg9nX?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=U452DHP

    “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi warned Monday that the Senate GOP health care bill that could be voted on later this week would be extremely harmful to Americans who rely on their health insurance.

    In an interview on “CBS This Morning,” the California Democrat said while the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not yet released its cost estimate of the measure, she can already predict one major effect.

    “We do know that many more people, hundreds of thousands of people, will die if this bill passes,” Pelosi said.”
    —————————

    Let the fear-mongering begin!

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  4. Well Ricky, let’s see…..

    The most obvious answer is because you’re not stupid, and won’t pay that much.

    So why are insurance companies, who are all about the margins, willing to do so? It makes no sense.

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  5. Question #2: If we had Federal programs called Gascare and Gasaid to pay for gas for the elderly and the poor, along with employer funded insurance to pay for gas for their employees, and a new federal program called Obamagas, would the cost of gas go up or down? By a little or a lot?

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  6. AJ @ 9:42 The insurance companies aren’t paying with their own money. What is their incentive to bargain? If their costs go up, they raise rates or ask for greater subsidies from the government.

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  7. Insurance companies are making too much profit and driving up the cost of healthcare in the process. Making it a non-profit venture and having a public-private board oversee costs might be one way to go. I don’t like all the regulation, but neither citizen nor non-citizen consumers have sufficient voice over too-big-to-fail enterprises that are gatekeepers to healthcare.

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  8. http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/3d281c11a96b4ad082fe88aa0db04305/Article_2017-06-26-US–Supreme%20Court-Wedding%20Cake%20Controversy/id-8579f97e68484726af7c7e91082f813e

    _______________________________________

    Supreme Court takes on new clash of gay rights, religion

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is taking on a new clash between gay rights and religion in a case about a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado.

    The justices said Monday they will consider whether a baker who objects to same-sex marriage on religious grounds can refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. …
    ________________________________________

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  9. Supreme Court reinstates Trump travel ban, mostly.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/supreme-court-reinstates-trumps-travel-ban-in-part/ar-BBDhdtC?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=U452DHP

    “The Supreme Court agreed Monday to let President Trump’s immigration travel ban go into effect for some travelers only, blocking the actions of lower federal courts that had put the controversial policy completely on hold.”
    ————————-

    “Trump unveiled a revised order in March that smoothed out some of the original ban’s rougher edges. It called for a 90-day ban on travelers from six countries and 120 days for refugees, but it excluded visa and green card holders, deleted a section that gave preference to Christian minorities, and included a waiver process for those claiming undue hardship.

    That order was blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii hours before it was to go into effect on March 16, as well as by another federal judge in Maryland. The Justice Department appealed both rulings, leading to similar slap-downs by federal appeals courts in Richmond May 25 and San Francisco June 12.

    As it reached the Supreme Court, the travel ban had been struck down on both constitutional and statutory grounds. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled 10-3 that it discriminated against Muslims by targeting only countries with overwhelmingly large Muslim majorities. But a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled unanimously that the ban violated federal immigration law by targeting people from certain countries without improving national security.

    Through all the defeats, Trump was forced to play on what amounts to his opponents’ home turf: The 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco, is dominated by President Bill Clinton’s nominees. The 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, is dominated by President Barack Obama’s nominees. All 13 judges on those two courts who voted to strike down the revised travel ban were appointed by Democratic presidents.

    By contrast, the Supreme Court includes five justices named by Republican presidents and four by Democrats. Chief Justice John Roberts is a strong proponent of executive authority, particularly in foreign affairs. Justice Samuel Alito has spent his entire career working for the government. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in a 2015 immigration case that a “legitimate and bona fide” reason for denying entry to the United States can pass muster. Justice Neil Gorsuch is a stickler for the written text of statutes — and banning Muslims isn’t mentioned in Trump’s executive order. Justice Clarence Thomas is the most conservative of all.”

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  10. And a victory for religious rights.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/us-top-court-backs-church-in-key-religious-rights-case/ar-BBDgODS?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=U452DHP

    “The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sided with a church that objected to being denied public money in Missouri, potentially lessening America’s separation of church and state by allowing governments more leeway to fund religious entities directly.

    The justices, in a 7-2 ruling, found that Missouri unlawfully prevented Trinity Lutheran Church access to a state grant program that helps nonprofit groups buy rubber playground surfaces made from recycled tires.

    Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said that the exclusion of the church “solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution.”

    In denying the church’s bid for public funding, Missouri cited its constitution that bars “any church, sect or denomination of religion” or clergy member from receiving state money, language that goes further than the U.S. Constitution’s separation of church and state.”
    ———————–

    And I’ll once again point out the writer’s lack of knowledge. Nowhere in the Constitution is Separation of Church and State even mentioned, nor was it brought up when the founders argued and wrote the document.

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  11. The expensive combination of drugs reminds me of Vytorin from a few years back. You might have seen the commercials for the cholesterol drug that worked on both sources of cholesterol, the food you eat and your body’s own genetically-influenced cholesterol-making. It showed pairs of pictures on a split screen, one of a food and one of an older relative who resembled the food in color or shape.

    The thing was, all they did was combine two kinds of cholesterol drugs that had been around for a long time. But they got more money for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. AJ – I think some people equate “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” with “separation of church & state”, & kind of forget about not “prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

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