Viewpoints: Trump's Ideas On Prescription Drug Prices Put Patients Last; EPA Fails Duty To Report Real News On …

Editorial writers focus on these and other health issues:

USA Today:
Donald Trump Caves On Prescription Drug Prices, Consumers Get No Relief

Reducing prescription drug costs were President Trump’s best chance for a health care victory in what so far has been the worst health care presidency in modern times. Americans are feeling significant pain on this issue. As many as one in four report difficulty affording their medications. Too often we hear stories about unexplainable price jumps for common medications that people depend on to stay alive, like insulin and EpiPen. There were high expectations for Trump after a campaign in which he accused drug companies of “getting away with murder” with their unchecked prices, and vowed to take them on. Americans are unified in how they want their government to respond; 92% say it should use its negotiating power to reduce drug prices for Medicare. Sensing a populist wave, in one of his most important and surprising campaign pledges, then-candidate Trump said he would “negotiate like crazy.” He even promised that his negotiating skills would save taxpayers $300 billion annually. (Andy Slavitt, 5/16)

New England Journal of Medicine:
Addressing Generic-Drug Market Failures — The Case For Establishing A Nonprofit Manufacturer

Robust competition usually keeps the price of generic drugs well below that of brand-name drugs. When there is little or no competition, however, generic-drug manufacturers can substantially increase prices, and drug shortages may occur. Such market failures can compromise care and negatively affect patients, health care providers, government insurance programs, and private health plans. (Dan Liljenquist and Gerard F. Anderson, 5/17)

Paying The Price For Insulin

The debate about drug costs can be hard to follow because it is both broad and deep. Between patients not being able to afford their medication, the role of “middlemen” (pharmacy benefit managers), and lawyers filing class-action lawsuits, the topic is complex and can be emotional for many. I’d like to put it into perspective with insulin, a lifesaving drug used by most of my patients — and millions of Americans — that is a perfect case study of the drug pricing issue. (Irl Hirsch, 5/17)

Charleston Gazette:
Trump Administration Conceals Conclusion Of C8 Report

What to think of a government that conceals bad news from its citizens, just because it doesn’t make government look good? For decades, residents of Parkersburg and nearby communities drank, cooked with and bathed in water that was contaminated with a chemical linked to cancer and numerous other health problems. …There is now word that the health effects of C8 and similar chemicals might be worse than previously feared, especially for vulnerable people, like babies and pregnant women. (5/17)

The Washington Post:
The GOP Is Quietly Crafting Work Requirement Waivers — For White People

In January, the Trump administration released new guidelines that would allow states to begin imposing work requirements on Medicaid recipients. It was a kindness, really: According to Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, meaningful work is essential to “economic self-sufficiency, self-esteem, wellbeing and . . . health.”  Well, for some of us. (Christine Emba, 5/16)

The Hill:
Yes, We Can Put Chronic Patients First And Lower Costs Simultaneously

Our health-care system can be overwhelming for those of us in the best of health. This is especially true of those living with serious and life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer or heart disease — who are juggling multiple doctors, diagnoses, treatment regimens and social stressors. Patients cycle in and out of hospitals and nursing facilities, yet 80 percent say they would rather be at home as they approach the end-of-life.Compared to other nations, U.S. health care providers rely more heavily on medical services and procedures than providing less costly services that can help patients remain more independent and at home, but that is beginning to change. (Former Sens. Tom Daschle and Bill Frist, 5/16)

The Detroit News:
Medicaid Bill Would Devastate Detroiters

Saundra Gay has been doing a lot trying to remain alive since a traumatizing accident in 2000 left her with a spinal cord injury and confined her to a wheelchair. …The (Medicaid) bill, according to studies, would disproportionately affect unemployed blacks in Wayne County — more than their white counterparts in rural areas. The bill would impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients and exempt largely white counties where the unemployment rate is above 8.5 percent. The 55-year-old Detroiter, who worked for the late Detroit City Councilwoman Brenda Scott as an administrative assistant from 1994-2000, has a message for Gov. Rick Snyder. “I’m asking him to not please sign this bill,” Gay said. “This would affect my quality of life. It would devastate me.” (Bankole Thompson, 5/17)

Chicago Tribune:
The Myth Of The ‘Welfare Queen’ Endures, And Children Pay The Price

Republicans are expected to vote this week on a farm bill that once again takes aim at the infamous “welfare queen.” The problem is that she does not exist.cThough no one has used the term outright in the current debate, this elusive scammer has been at the core of entitlement reform since Ronald Reagan conjured her up in 1976. Conservatives refuse to give up their quest to bring down this lazy, scheming, African-American woman who uses her food stamps and other government aid to support a lavish lifestyle with countless jobless men who drift in and out of her bed. (Dahleen Glanton, 5/17)

Des Moines Register:
Farm Bill Hurts Hard-Working Iowans

Right now in Washington, our legislators are considering a bill that will cause children to go hungry, seniors to face impossible financial choices and hard-working Americans to struggle with even greater burdens. The Farm Bill is intended to support agriculture, which drives our state’s economy, and provide assistance to our neighbors struggling with hunger. This year’s Farm Bill (HR 2), is not that – it is a disaster. (Michelle Book, 5/16)

Chicago Tribune:
SNAP Has Helped Millions Of Families — Including Mine

For families struggling with a temporary setback, or for working parents struggling to break the cycle of poverty, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program is the make-or-break program that ensures children don’t go to bed hungry.I know this firsthand because I was once one of the children who benefited from SNAP’s predecessor, the food stamp program. (Raja Krishnamoorthi, 5/16)

Los Angeles Times:
California’s Historic And Successful Right-To-Die Law Is Itself On Life-Support

California’s right-to-die law is nothing less than historic, certainly one of the most important pieces of legislation passed in the last several years. More than 100 people have used it to take their own lives since it was approved in 2015. Families have said repeatedly that the law has brought comfort to their relatives who took advantage of it, in many cases by offering an alternative to pain and suffering. Furthermore, it has wide backing. …But this important, compassionate and, by all measures, successful law was overturned Monday by a judge in Riverside County. (5/16)

Des Moines Register:
But What If Mentally Ill Refuse Help?

My cousin Roger was a gifted person who held a master’s degree in architectural engineering. He had a passion for inventing or developing products and processes that would help society become more eco-friendly. He was also homeless, literally living on the streets, collecting cans and rummaging through garbage for junk that he considered useful either to himself or as candidates for recycling. Roger had a very engaging personality that helped him to make acquaintances easily, but never friends.  His outgoing behavior quickly exposed a deeper, self-centered, controlling, demanding attitude that alienated those who wished to help him.  Roger was mentally ill. (C. Sheldon Smith, 5/16)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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