Hillary Clinton Proposes Cap on Patients’ Drug Costs as Bernie Sanders Pushes …

23 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Clinton adds details to plans on prescription drug costs.

Hillary Clinton’s left turn on the Keystone XL oil pipeline won her heaps of praise Tuesday from the same climate activists who had spent five years denouncing her silence on the most divisive environmental controversy of Barack Obama’s presidency. DES MOINES: Hillary Rodham Clinton is laying out a new plan to rein in the rising cost of prescription drugs, seeking to build upon President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Hillary Clinton took direct aim at the pharmaceutical industry on Tuesday, unveiling a sweeping plan to curb the rising costs of prescription medication.”I thought this would be decided by now,’’ Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, said during a town hall meeting in Des Moines, Iowa. “But it hasn’t been decided, and I feel now I’ve got a responsibility’’ to voters. “It is imperative that we look at the Keystone Pipeline as what I believe it is, as a distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change,’’ she said. “I oppose it because I don’t think it’s in the best interests of what we need to do to combat climate change.’’ Clinton said that, within a few weeks, she’ll unveil a North American plan for fighting climate change and transitioning to clean energy, citing a number of pipelines that are already sitting in disrepair and leaking dangerous methane gases. “The grid has to be updated in order for it to be more accessible,’’ she said, adding that it is work that will create “a lot more jobs than you would ever get from just one pipeline crossing the border.” The 1,179-mile pipeline would connect tar sands crude oil in Alberta Canada with a pipeline in Nebraska, allowing energy company TransCanada to pump 830,000 barrels a day to refineries in the Midwest and the Gulf Coast.NEW YORK: Hillary Clinton’s campaign promise on Tuesday to cap prescription drug costs for U.S. consumers lends weight to efforts by health insurers, doctors’ groups and consumers to address skyrocketing prices, industry experts said.

But it also opened her to fresh attacks from Republicans who accused her of putting ideology ahead of the thousands of construction jobs the proposed Canada-to-Texas pipeline would create — and of showing obvious political calculation in announcing her stance just as the media were distracted with Pope Francis’ arrival in Washington. The Democratic presidential candidate’s proposal aims to cap monthly and annual out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs to help patients with chronic or serious health conditions. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who’s challenging Clinton for the Democratic nomination and has been critical of the pipeline all along, praised Clinton for taking a stand. “I welcome her opposition,” Sanders wrote on Twitter. Clinton, in the lead among Democratic presidential candidates, unveiled a plan that includes a US$250 monthly cap on out-of-pocket costs prescription drugs, allowing the Medicare plan for the elderly to negotiate drug pricing and permitting Americans to purchase drugs from other countries at lower cost. She wants to: prevent companies from keeping cheaper, generic alternatives off the market; force drug companies that receive taxpayer support to invest more in R&D; place a monthly $250 cap on how much insurers could charge people to pay out of pocket for specialty drugs; allow the federal government to negotiate lower prices for patients on Medicare; allow patients to fill their prescriptions with drugs from Canada, where medication is often cheaper; and prevent drug makers from deducting the cost of TV ads.

Meanwhile, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, another of Clinton’s rivals for the nomination who also opposes the pipeline, criticized her for being slow to publicly express her views. Clinton, who had installed environmentalist and former Obama aide John Podesta as her chief campaign adviser, was long planning to run against pipeline, the aide said. The proposal—which shares more than a few similarities with a plan already put forward by Bernie Sanders, as well as one released last week by a liberal policy think tank with close ties to the Obama administration—comes with a distinct populist pitch. Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush blasted Clinton’s position, saying the former secretary of State “favors environmental extremists over U.S. jobs.” In February, Obama vetoed a bill that would have approved the pipeline amid an ongoing standoff with the Republican-led Congress. Obama could still approve the project on his own authority, although he has suggested that its environmental impacts would outweigh any economic benefits.

But her campaign trail attack on high drug prices and “excessive profiteering” by drugmakers touched a raw nerve for consumers and makes public anger harder to ignore, policy experts said. “Once the public gets really pissed, politicians are going to have to have answers and then it gets out of the control of particular lobbyists or companies,” said Dr. Democrats affiliated with her presidential rivals attributed Clinton’s timing to growing concern about her poll numbers in the primaries, and the realization that she could not glide through without making her opinion known.

But the campaign aide said Clinton had privately told labor officials in recent weeks about her position, and that the White House was briefed before her announcement Tuesday. Once a political liability for Democrats, the overhaul has been credited with helping reduce the number of uninsured people from 48.6 million in 2010 to 29 million people in the first three months of 2015. But the industry is currently in the midst of particularly bad PR headache: On Monday, the New York Times introduced the world to Martin Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager who jacked up the price of Daraprim—a drug used by AIDS patients to fight off infections that can prove fatal—from $13.50 to $750 a pill overnight.

Her comments made her the last major Democratic presidential candidate to come out against Keystone, a project that has dragged through more than seven years of wrangling and several environmental reviews that appeared to favor the pipeline — most of them produced by the State Department when Clinton was secretary. Shkreli’s company isn’t the first to implement such a get-rick-quick scheme, but his particular blend of general bro-iness and unapologetic capitalism makes for a particularly unattractive face for the industry. Obama remains the project’s biggest wildcard: He hasn’t said whether he will grant or deny a permit for the pipeline, or when he’ll decide, even as Republicans lambaste him for repeatedly postponing the issue.

As secretary, Clinton had galvanized a nationwide activist campaign against Keystone with her off-the-cuff remarks in 2010 that the department was “inclined” to approve the $8 billion-plus project. But a recent poll found a vast majority of Americans now believe Medicare should be allowed to push for greater discounts. “The proposal released today by the Clinton campaign would do irreparable harm to the nation’s health innovation system,” Biotechnology Industry Organization CEO Jim Greenwood said in a statement. Her plan also seeks to increase competition for traditional generic versions of specialty drugs to drive down prices and offer more choices to consumers. Bill McKibben, the 350.org co-founder and godfather of the anti-pipeline movement, heaped particular praise on her after warning her about “mistrust” earlier this year. “I think she’s really coming to understand that climate is going to be a defining issue of this election,” McKibben told POLITICO. “And maybe, if you also look at her stand on Arctic drilling, she’s concluding that the most visible way to make quick progress is to keep carbon in the ground.” Tiernan Sittenfeld, a senior vice president at the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, also cited Clinton’s opposition to Arctic drilling in calling the candidate’s Keystone move “inspiring and exciting.” Rather than blasting Clinton outright, the oil and gas industry’s top lobbying group lamented what chief Jack Gerard called “a missed opportunity to seize the true potential of our energy renaissance.” “It is most unfortunate for American workers and consumers that she has joined the forces of delay and denial,” Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said of Clinton. That’s not to suggest pushing those reforms through Congress would be a breeze—there’s a reason that the authors of the Affordable Care Act steered clear of such efforts.

Clinton had been hinting through the press lately that she was getting close to making her own views known. “I am getting impatient,” she said at a campaign stop in Nevada last month. “I’m not comfortable saying, you know, ‘I have to keep my opinion to myself’ given the fact that I was involved in it. Jindal, who has made the repeal of the health care law a centerpiece of his Republican presidential campaign, said in an interview that it was “appropriate that the godmother of Obamacare would be in Louisiana promoting socialized medicine.” “I think that Obamacare is just a step towards more government control, more socialized medicine and I think that’s bad for us,” he said. Clinton’s remarks “should put pressure on the Obama administration to reject the pipeline soon,” David Turnbull of the green group Oil Change International said.

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