‘Eye’ on Washington

Keep an eye on Washington this week as the American Optometric Association (AOA) – an advocacy group that spends nearly $2 million a year lobbying on the federal level alone – is flying thousands of its representatives to Washington to pressure lawmakers into backing their crony legislation.

The AOA is actively looking for Members of Congress to re-introduce their crony legislation, the Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act (CLCHPA). This bill is the first step in the AOA plan to completely ban third-party lens sellers, such as Walmart, Costco, and a multitude of online sellers. This is cronyism run amok. If passed, CLCHPA will give eye-care specialists the unlimited power to veto prospective third-party transactions. Current law provides a window for specialists to act. However, CLCHPA will give the AOA the control to pocket-veto transactions by simply refusing to respond to the patient’s request.

The ‘eye and mighty’ AOA is not seeing things straight when it comes to banning their competition. The Republican-controlled Congress can’t let this crony eyesore be pushed through on their watch.

“Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017” is a bait and switch

“We and the millions of Americans who support our organizations are deeply concerned that Senator Elizabeth Warren’s “Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017” is a bait-and-switch piece of legislation that will impose burdensome regulations, resulting in limited choice and higher prices for consumers. We are concerned that the House will allow a version of this legislation to be attached to the non-controversial Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) legislation.

Senator Warren’s legislation is misleading. Her proposal will increase regulation, pre-empt states, raise prices, and limit choice. It’s a solution looking for a problem. Physicians, healthcare professionals, patients, and consumers all lose under the Warren bill. We encourage Congress to oppose it at every turn.”

View the Coalition letter HERE: Coalition Opposes Sen Warren’s crony Hearing Aid Bill_it’s bad for doctors, patients, and consumers

 

The Financial CHOICE Act

 

The Financial CHOICE Act is a market-based, common sense reform proposal that will peel back the most onerous Dodd-Frank regulatory layers. The legislation begins with a conservative consensus of eliminating the most damaging provisions of Dodd-Frank, explicitly reforming the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and repealing the Durbin AmendmentCoalition Letter in Support of The Financial CHOICE Act of 2017

Maryland’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Rx Prescription

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Counterfeit Medicine RealClearHealth, 4/06/2017

No patient should have to worry that their state legislators will purposely limit their access to necessary medications. However, this is the precise scenario playing out in Annapolis, Maryland this week. Lawmakers – perhaps with good intentions – are moving a bill through the State House that is reckless public policy and that will threaten the lives and healthcare for all Marylanders.

The bill – H.B. 631 –  allows the government to impose costs and regulatory burdens whenever bureaucrats believe that pricing of a medicine is “not justified.” However, the legislation, now being considered in the state Senate, sets no objective standard or legal threshold by which a judge or a healthcare provider can know what “not justified” means.

This legislation dangerously expands the power of the state’s Attorney General to interfere in the marketplace in such a way as to threaten competition. H.B. 631 will do nothing to offer relief to patients – it won’t lower prices. On the contrary, this bill will drive generic drug companies out of Maryland. By boosting the Attorney General’s power to “investigate” drug prices, politicians in Annapolis are advancing a course of action that will have the unintended consequence of reducing competition and, therefore, limiting patient access to medicines and medical therapies.

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Elected officials “doing something” about the high cost of healthcare seems like good politics, but this “doing something” is bad medicine for patients. Marylanders deserve better than counterfeit reform.

The public debate over the cost of medicine isn’t new. Nor is political grandstanding on the issue. With H.B. 631, Maryland lawmakers from both political parties –  the House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly, 137-4, to pass this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad bill – have chosen politics over policy.

Maryland lawmakers craving the momentary praise from the media and activists are putting their constituents’ health at risk. Their attempt at bureaucratic price manipulation will hurt all patients, but such political meddling will be devastating for Maryland’s sickest and poorest patients.

This legislation will do nothing to lower the cost of prescription medicines. It will undoubtedly have the exact opposite effect. If fewer affordable generic medicines are available in Maryland, patients suffer and healthcare costs will skyrocket.

The competitive marketplace of generic medicines substantially drives down drug prices for patients.  Generic medicines saved Maryland $3.7 billion in 2015. Nationwide these medicines are 89% of prescriptions dispensed, but only 27% of total drug costs resulting in $227 billion in total savings in 2015. The overall price of generics fell over 8% in 2016, and prices are down over 70% since 2008.

Drug companies make easy targets, and healthcare policy is complicated. H.B. 631 is a short-sighted, political fix that will undermine competitive pricing and threaten patient care. It will inevitably increase drug prices and give Maryland the ignoble distinction of being first in the nation to deliberately push generics out of the marketplace.

The politics of supporting H.B. 631 is intuitively appealing; however, its promise of controlling drug prices is dangerously dishonest. When it predictably fails—and it increases the cost of medicine—will the politicians take responsibility? Or, will they look for another easy target to blame?

Better value and lower prices for medicines can be achieved without compromising patient access. But instead of exercising greater control over the marketplace, true reformers should focus on innovation and competition.

Here’s what to expect if H.B. 631 becomes law: less competition in the generic drug market which will lead to higher prices, limited access, and less choice. Patients won’t be able to obtain the life-saving medications they need.

Jerry Rogers is vice president at the Institute for Liberty and the founder of Capitol Allies. Andrew Langer is president of the Institute for Liberty and a principal at Capitol Allies. Both host a weekly podcast, the LangerCast, on the RELM Network.

Philly Tax is a Job Killer

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Beverage Tax Sweetens Philly Coffers, Sours Retailers USA Today, 2/23/207

“[Alex] Baloga said retailers immediately experienced a ‘massive’ impact. Beverage sales are down sharply as many city residents cross into suburban counties to buy soda, he said. That has lead to changed shopping habits — some customers end up doing all their shopping outside the city, he said. Distributors and supermarkets in Philadelphia have already started announcing layoffs, he added.

‘The important point is that this is having a dramatic, negative impact on retailers, businesses and customers in the city,’ he said. ‘The pain it is inflicting is very real on average, real people.’

Danny Grace, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 830, said about 1,700 of his members are drivers, salesmen and account reps for the soda industry. He said the companies are reporting sales declines of 30% to 40%.

‘Many of our members are seeing a reduction of 50% or more in their take-home pay,” he said. “And I don’t see the business coming back.’

Jeff Brown, CEO of Brown’s Super Stores, which manages several ShopRite stores in the city, told Philly.com this week that beverage sales are down 50% and overall sales are down 15%. He said he expects to shed 300 jobs in coming months.

‘People didn’t change what they drink,’ Brown told the news site. ‘They changed where they’re buying it.’”

Mayor Kenney’s Grocery Tax increased the price of beverages in Philadelphia so people are buying less beverages in Philadelphia. People really do respond to incentives. It’s that simple.

Jerry Rogers on The C4 Show

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Jerry Rogers joined the C4 show on January 13th … C4 started out the show talking with Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD) about the Baltimore police / DoJ Consent Decree, and the 2017 Legislative Session. C4 then talked about Neil Cavuto’s gleeful reply to CNN’s fight with Donald Trump. Then it was the “Week In Review” where Jerry Rogers sat in for a two hour discussion on Rubio Vs Rex Tillerson , Jared Kushner, CNN and Fake news, and Obama’s final speech. Then it was the Friday Face Off with C4 and Derek Hunter.

Click here to listen to WBAL’s the C4 Show:  Jerry Rogers joins the C4 Show for the Week in Review

Philly Grocery Tax Goes Viral

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The people of Philadelphia are suffering from sticker shock when they visit the grocery store. The City of Brotherly Love defied its residents by passing a huge grocery tax on most beverages, and they’re not happy about it. Images are going viral of receipts that show the 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax impacting the wallets of everyday Philadelphians … in many instances the taxes are more than the price of the drink.

The Philly Grocery Tax is a mistake. While Mayor Kenney pitched his grocery tax as needed to fund early childhood education, the truth is that nearly 20 percent of the tax revenue raised will go to other government programs and budget priorities.

“The magnitude of this tax is historic and Philadelphian consumers can’t afford it,” said David McCorkle, CEO of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association.

10 Regulatory Recommendations for Trump Administration

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Though discussed for many years, it is only in the last decade that regulatory impacts have been seen by the mainstream political establishment as a driving factor in the health of the US economy—impacting our jobs, our competitiveness, and a host of other societal concerns (including the vitality of the middle class).  10 Regulatory Recommendations for the Trump Admin are some of the Institute for Liberty’s recommendations on the issue, and we offer them with one important caveat: There are no silver bullets when it comes to reducing regulatory costs! Regulatory costs have grown steadily since 1970 (though those costs have accelerated since 2007), and while many focus on so-called “major rules” (costing the economy $100 million or more annually), the bulk of regulatory burdens come from the cumulative effect of much-smaller mandates. Evidence shows that by even making modest changes in regulatory costs, massive economic gains can be had. But regardless of whether these changes are minor or major, regulatory reform must be an essential element of the incoming administration’s economic policies if they want to jump-start the economy and put Americans back to work.

These recommendations cover a wide range of tools that the incoming administration can utilize to have a fundamental impact on the regulatory state.