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Big Pharma, hospitals get into finger-pointing on rising healthcare costs


Spokespeople for the pharmaceutical industry blame hospitals for the continued big increases in healthcare costs; the hospital industry has fired back.

Kirsten Axelsen, vice president of worldwide policy for Pfizer, told  FiercePharma that hospital costs are generally higher than drug costs, but that patients can more easily have have a negative view of Big Pharma because patients can see drug prices  much more clearly than usually very opaque hospital fees because of how insurance plans are designed.

And, of course, there’s politics involved, noted former California Congressman David Dreier:  Almost every member of Congress has a hospital in his or her district but only few have  drug manufacturers.

In 2016, the United States spent $3.4 trillion on healthcare, including $1.1 trillion in hospital costs, $683 billion in physician and clinical expenditures and $348 billion on prescription drugs.

But Tom Nickels, executive vice president for government relations and public policy for the American Hospital Association, told FiercePharma that Big Pharma’s argument is “laughable”

“Just because you are a bigger part of something doesn’t mean that you should be the focus in terms of cost reductions.” Mr. Nickels said, adding that some drug companies have implemented “predatory pricing” practices.

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Trump’s seven-point healthcare program


The Trump for president campaign offers a seven-part healthcare-reform program:

  1. “Completely repeal Obamacare. Our elected representatives must eliminate the individual mandate. No person should be required to buy insurance unless he or she wants to.
  2. “Modify existing law that inhibits the sale of health insurance across state lines. As long as the plan purchased complies with state requirements, any vendor ought to be able to offer insurance in any state. By allowing full competition in this market, insurance costs will go down and consumer satisfaction will go up.
  3. “Allow individuals to fully deduct health insurance premium payments from their tax returns under the current tax system. Businesses are allowed to take these deductions so why wouldn’t Congress allow individuals the same exemptions? As we allow the free market to provide insurance coverage opportunities to companies and individuals, we must also make sure that no one slips through the cracks simply because they cannot afford insurance. We must review basic options for Medicaid and work with states to ensure that those who want healthcare coverage can have it.
  4. “Allow individuals to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).  {Editor’s note: These are already allowed — and used by millions.} Contributions into HSAs should be tax-free and should be allowed to accumulate. These accounts would become part of the estate of the individual and could be passed on to heirs without fear of any death penalty. These plans should be particularly attractive to young people who are healthy and can afford high-deductible insurance plans. These funds can be used by any member of a family without penalty. The flexibility and security provided by HSAs will be of great benefit to all who participate.
  5. “Require price transparency from all healthcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals. (Editor’s note: Such transparency is already called for under the Affordable Care Act.} Individuals should be able to shop to find the best prices for procedures, exams or any other medical-related procedure.
  6. “Block-grant Medicaid to the states. Nearly every state already offers benefits beyond what is required in the current Medicaid structure. The state governments know their people best and can manage the administration of Medicaid far better without federal overhead. States will have the incentives to seek out and eliminate fraud, waste and abuse to preserve our precious resources.
  7. “Remove barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products. Congress will need the courage to step away from the special interests and do what is right for America. Though the pharmaceutical industry is in the private sector, drug companies provide a public service. Allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers. (Editor’s note: Many  U.S. patients now get their  prescription drugs from Canada, which are generally much cheaper than American drugs.}






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