Pharma steps in it as blame game continues

  • Pharmacy benefit managers said rebates paid by drug companies to PBMs, sometimes called “middlemen,” are “not secret or hidden payments” 
  • Executives blamed high drug prices on the drugmakers and their pursuit of profits. 
  • U.S. Healthcare Spending Reaches $420M Per Hour, On Track to Hit $12 Trillion by 2040.
  • 62 health care CEOs made a combined $1.1 billion in 2018 when calculating the actual value of cashed-out stock.
  • In the meantime Republicans are warning drug companies not to cooperate with probes into drug pricing.

Can we ever fix healthcare? I’m not sure. As healthcare CEO compensation tops $1 billion we are reading more and more stories about people choosing between food, rent or prescription drugs.

High drug costs have become a rare bipartisan issue with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle demanding something be done. President Donald Trump has made lowering prices one of the key issues of his administration. Democrats are jockeying to prove they can lead reform. PBMs have arguably received the brunt of the blame from lawmakers.

In another bizarre move Republicans on the House Oversight Committee sent letters to a dozen CEOs of major drug companies warning that information they provide to a committee could be leaked to the public by Democratic chair Elijah Cummings in an effort to tank their stock prices.

What about insurance companies?

They, too, are routinely criticized for high prices. Premiums continue to rise faster than inflation. And while Americans struggle to find affordable plans, leading insurance company executives report staggeringly high annual incomes. Since passage of the Affordable Care Act, David Cordani, CEO of Cigna, has taken home more than $140 million of compensation. Yet he feels poor compared to Stephen Hemsley, the CEO of UnitedHealthGroup, who has made almost $300 million.

The bottom line

Healthcare is badly broken because its’ too profitable. Everyone wants a piece of every healthcare transaction, and they are willing to spend millions in lobbying to get their way. What’s it going to take to fix and do we REALLY have the courage to fix it?

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