With new drug pricing order, Trump flirts with socialized medicine

President Trump’s recent executive order on drug prices gets almost everything right — except the solution. Ironically, that solution moves the United States toward socialized medicine, which the president vociferously opposes.

The order says, “Americans pay more per capita for prescription drugs than residents of any other developed country.” That’s certainly true for most brand name drugs, though Americans typically pay much less for generic drugs, which account for about 90 percent of all U.S. prescriptions — a fact often ignored in the health policy debates.

The EO is also correct that “Americans pay more for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same places.” As a result, Americans “finance much of the biopharmaceutical innovation that the world depends on.” 

But Trump’s executive order won’t fix these problems. It will only make it as hard for American patients to obtain the newest, cutting-edge drugs as it is for many patients in foreign countries the president wants to emulate. 

The order forbids Medicare from paying more for drugs than the lowest price available in any member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), after adjusting for per-capita income. Trump calls it a “most-favored-nation price.” 

The order claims those nations enjoy low drug prices because they “negotiate” with pharmaceutical manufacturers. But what the order describes as a negotiation is more akin to a hostage-taking — with their own citizens held for ransom. 

Bureaucrats in those nations’ systems – most of which are largely or completely controlled by the government – often refuse to cover drugs unless manufacturers sell the medicines far below fair-market prices. 

In Canada, for example, just 46 percent of new drugs approved worldwide between 2011 and 2018 are actually available to Canadian patients. And the average delay between approval and availability in Canada is 15 months. In the United Kingdom, it’s 59 percent and 18 months.

But in the United States it’s 87 percent and three months or less.

Those are months – and in some countries, years – that patients go without access to the newest treatments. Some drugs are never made available. 

The U.S. government doesn’t treat its people so callously — or at least it hasn’t. Medicare covers virtually every FDA-approved medicine, and it sets reimbursements based on prices in the commercial market. This market-based pricing ensures that the newest drugs are available and doctors, not government gatekeepers, decide which drugs to prescribe. 

It’s a shame that the president has adopted other countries’ socialized medicine prices because he so often criticizes foreign freeloading. 

Recall that when Trump took office, he saw that our NATO allies were not paying their fair share toward the alliance’s mutual defense, even though the members had for years committed to raising their defense spending to at least 2 percent of GDP to support the alliance. 

Trump did not respond to this inequity by swearing the United States would only spend as much as our stingiest ally. Instead, he called them out publicly and exhorted our allies

Kemp’s Latest Order Starts At Midnight Thursday

ATLANTA, GA — Gov. Brian Kemp’s latest extension to his coronavirus executive order keeps most restrictions in place but makes two minor revisions: one for hospitality workers and another for those seeking Georgia scholarships.

One change allows restaurant and bar workers to return once they’ve been symptom-free for 24 hours following a known or suspected COVID-19 diagnosis. According to a news release from Kemp’s office, this follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The other change allows for some SAT/ACT test score deadlines to be extended for HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships.

The changes go into effect at midnight Thursday and run through Oct. 15.

Gov. Kemp’s office announced the extended executive order on Wednesday, the same day Georgia surpassed 7,000 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

GEORGIA’S CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS FOR THURSDAY, OCT. 1

Georgia Department of Public Health in Atlanta reported a total of 319,334 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at 2:50 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1. According to the health department’s website, that includes 1,376 newly confirmed cases over the last 24 hours.

Georgia also reported 7,063 deaths so far from COVID-19, with 43 more deaths recorded in the last 24 hours. In addition, the state reported 28,668 hospitalizations — 146 more than the day before — and 5,300 admissions so far to intensive-care units.

No information is available from Georgia about how many patients have recovered.

Counties in or near metro Atlanta and other metropolitan areas continue to have the highest number of positives, with Fulton County still in the lead.

  1. Fulton County: 27,790 cases — 106 new

  2. Gwinnett County: 27,733 cases — 86 new

  3. Cobb County: 19,829 cases — 89 new

  4. DeKalb County: 18,938 cases — 79 new

  5. Hall County: 9,498 cases — 125 new

  6. Chatham County: 8,548 — 37 new

  7. Richmond County: 7,180 — 33 new

  8. Clayton County: 7,114 — 7 new

  9. Cherokee County: 6,159 — 41 new

  10. Bibb County: 6,097 — 8 new

Counties in or near metro Atlanta also continue to have the most deaths from COVID-19.

  1. Fulton County: 577 deaths — 2 new

  2. Cobb County: 427 deaths

  3. Gwinnett County: 409 deaths

  4. DeKalb County: 369 deaths — 2 new

  5. Dougherty County: 187 deaths

  6. Bibb County: 173 deaths — 2 new

  7. Muscogee County: 170 deaths

  8. Chatham County: 166 deaths — 3 new

  9. Richmond County: 164 deaths — 2 new

  10. Clayton County: 161 deaths — 1 removed

As of Thursday, Georgia has administered more than 3.2 million COVID-19 tests, with about 9 percent of those tests the less reliable ones used to detect antibodies.

For the more reliable test for the virus itself, 10.1 percent of tests came back positive. For the less reliable test for antibodies, 8.4 percent came back positive. The overall positive rate was about 10 percent.

As more Georgians were tested over the last month, the percentage of positive tests inched upward from about 8 percent to more than 10 percent. However, over the last few weeks, the percentage of positives has stabilized at

American Medical Association petitions Supreme Court to review Title X ‘gag order’

Oct. 1 (UPI) — The American Medical Association led a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to review a Trump administration revised rule banning federally funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions.

The petition, filed alongside the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, calls on the court to weigh conflicting decisions in a pair of appeals courts regarding the so-called “gag rule” earlier this year.

Under the revised rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2019, the government said it would require “clear financial and physical separation” between Title X-compliant facilities and those that provide abortions or abortion referrals.

“The AMA strongly believes that our nation’s highest court must step in to remove government overreach and interference in the patient-physician relationship. Restricting the information that physicians can provide to their Title X patients blocks honest, informed conversations about health care options — an unconscionable violation that is essentially a gag rule,” AMA President Susan Bailey said in a statement.

In February, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the rule, stating that it allows family clinics to mention abortion, but not to refer or encourage it, and that it was a “reasonable interpretation” of federal law and was not “arbitrary and capricious,” as challengers including Planned Parenthood had argued.

However, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked enforcement of the federal rule in Maryland earlier this month, saying the Trump administration’s rule revision “failed to recognize and address the ethical concerns of literally every major medical organization in the country.”

“The petitioners argue that until the Ninth CIrcuit’s erroneous decision is corrected, the administration’s gag rule is harming patient care and causing physicians and other health care professionals to violate ethical obligations by preventing Title X clinics from providing full information to patients about all of their reproductive care options,” AMA said.

The petition also comes as the Senate prepares to confirm President Donald Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, shifting the court’s makeup to a 6-3 conservative majority following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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