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2 posts from February 2019

02/19/2019

ATAP's Dr. Robert Levin Discusses Reforming Drug Pricing Policy (February 18th)

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The administration and the Congress are currently discussing various proposals to reform drug pricing policy.  Drug prices, as listeners are likely well aware, have risen substantially over the past two decades.  For example, between 1997 and 2007 they tripled and currently year-over-year Medicare Part D drug spending is expected to grow through 2026 at twice the 2007 through 2013 growth rate.   The administration formally began its effort last May with the announcement of its drug pricing "blueprint."  The Congress is currently holding hearings, e.g., the Senate Finance and House Oversight committees, on drug pricing.  The administration currently is proposing two drug pricing reforms that would address both Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D drug pricing and the Congress has already introduced several bills to curb drug price growth.     

During this 28 minute conversation Dr. Levin discusses ATAP's mission and funding and ATAP's position on the administration's current proposal to reform Medicare Part B drug pricing via reference pricing or via the use of an international price index.  Dr. Levin discusses moreover the administration's current proposal to reform Medicare Part D drug pricing by eliminating or prohibiting drug manufacturers from paying a rebate to pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs) and Part D plan sponsors.  Our conversation concludes with Dr. Levin's comments concerning the long standing debate whether the Secretary of DHHS should be allowed to negotiate Part D drug prices with manufacturers.   

Dr. Robert Levin is the President of the Alliance for Transparent and Affordable Prescriptions (ATAP), President of the Florida Society of Rheumatology and is a practicing physician Levinin Tampa Bay.  He teaches medicine at the University of South Florida and has served as a principal investigator in dozens of clinical trials involving rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, lower back pain and fibromylagia.    Dr. Levin is board certified in Internal Medicine with a sub-specialty in rheumatoid arthritis and is a fellow with the American College of Rheumatology and the American College of Physicians.  He earned his medical degree at Hahnemann University in Pennsylvania, did his residency at the Medical College of Pennsylvania and earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Oberlin College in Ohio.   

For information on ATAP go to: https://atapadvocates.com/

Concerning the proposed Medicare drug rebate proposal go to: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-02-06/pdf/2019-01026.pdf.

For an overview of drug pricing issues, see, for example, Hopkins Professor Gerald Anderson's recent Senate Finance Committee testimony, at: https://oversight.house.gov/legislation/hearings/examining-the-actions-of-drug-companies-in-raising-prescription-drug-prices

02/01/2019

Remote Area Medical's Free Health Care Clinics: A Discussion with RAM CEO Jeff Eastman (January 31st)

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Over 40 million Americans live in poverty or upwards of 14% of the population.  Those living in extreme poverty number 18 million and over 5 million live in absolute poverty.  The US also has the highest youth poverty rate among OECD countries.  This reality is made worse by the fact the US is the only highly developed country in the world that lacks universal health care coverage.   Despite passage of the ACA in 2010 that reduced the number of non-elderly uninsured from 44 million to 27 million by 2016, last week Gallup survey data indicated over the past four years seven million fewer Americans have health care insurance.  This finding is not unsurprising considering the administration's ACA regulatory actions over the past two years.  With a significant number of Americans impoverished and a recent decline in those covered, it is no surprise that Americans are forced to seek charity care.   

During this 21 minute interview, Mr. Eastman explains why RAM was founded by Stan Brock in 1985, he describes RAM's upcoming clinic or "expedition" (RAM's 1,000th) this weekend in Knoxville.  More specifically he provides an overview RAM's patient population, the types of medical care RAM provides and who provides RAM care.   He also discusses how clinic sites are selected in the US and overseas and how the organization is funded.   (Over the past 34 years, RAM has served over 785,000 patients, via the volunteer efforts of over 135,000 clinicians and other volunteers, providing an estimated $785 million in free health care.) 

Jeff Eastman is currently the CEO or Remote Area Medical (RAM).  Previously, he spent 28 years employed by Altria sales Eastmanand distribution.  He began volunteering with RAM in 2008 and in 2014 became a full-time employee.  In 2015 he was voted RAM's first ever CEO.  Jeff earned an Associate’s Degree from the State University of New York at Canton, a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and a Master’s of Business Administration from Lincoln Memorial University.  Jeff lives in Athens, Tennessee with his wife, Debbie.

For more on RAM go to: https://www.ramusa.org/