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

real clear health

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.

Rethinking #NeverTrump?

The Constitution

Either major candidate, should he or she be elected, enters the presidency damaged, with massive amounts of distrust from their political opposition.  But whereas Sec. Clinton engenders, really, only the distrust of Republicans (and a handful of so-called progressives), Mr. Trump will enter the presidency with massive distrust from a much-wider cross-section of his colleagues in Congress (in both houses).

And therein lies the silver lining…  with Republicans, from leadership on downward, deeply concerned with the manner with which Donald Trump will execute his presidency, there is an opportunity for these Republicans to exert enormous pressure on the executive branch to rein in that branch’s power.  Moreover, with Democrats nearly-united in opposition to Trump, there is even more of an opportunity to achieve what those distrustful of the unitary executive and executive branch overreach have been trying to do for nearly two decades:  meaningful reform and reduction in the power of the President and his appointees—clear legislative language that prescribes precisely how laws are to be implemented, authoritative oversight of agency operations, and a real willingness to use budgetary tools to push back against executive branch mischief.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the interplay between Congress and a Clinton presidency.  Should Republicans maintain control of Congress and Sec. Clinton gets elected president, the GOP cannot count on Democrats to work to rein executive branch power.  And should the GOP lose control of Congress in 2016 or 2018, with a Clinton presidency we would see the same wholesale abrogation of responsibility that brought the American people massive expansions of executive branch power under Presidents George W. Bush (from 2001-2007) and Barack Obama (from 2009-2011).

It is a mind-boggling concept—the idea that choosing Donald Trump could lead to a fundamental return to the basic constitutional precepts upon which this nation was founded.  But one has to recognize that this would be done in spite of the president—most likely without his support (if not his downright opposition).  But that’s why the founders separated the powers of government, specifically to prevent one branch from getting too powerful, and, in doing so, to protect individual rights.

So yes… it is possible that a vote for Donald Trump could represent a vote for a return to the principles of individual liberty.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2016/11/07/rethinking-nevertrump-how-a-trump-presidency-could-result-in-limited-presidential-power/#ixzz4PRydm0gg

Philadelphia’s Regressive, Illegal Tax

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After winning the Democratic nomination in an overwhelmingly Democratic city, Philadelphia mayoral candidate Jim Kenney kept pressing and campaigning ahead of the November 2015 elections. After the primary, the campaign focused almost exclusively on reducing poverty and expanding opportunity.

Kenney pledged to help people succeed in every neighborhood of Philadelphia.

However, after being elected mayor, Jim Kenney’s first major action wasn’t to expand economic opportunity. No, on the contrary, the Mayor deliberately and deceivingly targeted his city’s poorest residents with a regressive—illegal—tax on virtually everything in the beverage aisle.

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.

David Oh, a Republican who opposed the grocery tax, described the funding arrangement as misleading, saying that “This is not the narrative that had been told to the public.” And, Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, a Democrat on the City Council who supported the measure, said she had no idea revenue from the tax was targeted for other purposes.

So, here are the facts on the Kenney tax:

  • The 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax goes into effect January 1, 2017.
  • The regressive, highly unpopular tax will add 18 cents to the cost of a can of soda, $1.08 for a six-pack or $1.02 for a two-liter bottle.
  • The new beverage tax will be added on top of the already excessive 8% sales tax that applies to beverages in Philadelphia.
  • Yes, the tax is unpopular – 58% of residents oppose the measure.
  • Yes, the tax will disproportionately harm poor residents – economic studies show that low-income Americans spend a larger portion of their income on consumer goods like soda.
  • No, the tax revenue—as the Mayor promised—is not being reserved exclusively for an expanded pre-K program or city parks and recreational facilities.
  • No, the tax is not legal – experts are calling the tax unconstitutional.

A coalition of consumers, businesses, and unions have filed a lawsuit to stop Philadelphia from collecting the tax, maintaining that it’s illegal under state law.

Mayor Jim Kenney might have persuaded the City Council to support a grocery tax with back-room deals and eleventh-hour concessions to individual council members. However, such sweet-deals and political horse-trading will be out-of-bounds in the judicial system. What will matter in the end is if the Mayor’s legal team can persuade the courts that the grocery tax is legal under Pennsylvania law.

Many legal experts, including Ronald Castille—former Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania high court—have concluded that the Philly tax is illegal:

  • The Philly tax is a de facto sales tax and preempted by state law.
  • The Philly tax violates Pennsylvania’s state Constitution’s Uniformity Clause.
  • The Philly tax conflicts with the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Capitol Allies and its partners will continue to offer analysis and commentary on the Philly tax so to better inform the public discussion as the anti-tax fight moves through the courts.

Free-Market Advocates Support Roberts-Stabenow Labeling Bill

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SupportRobertsStabenow(Click here for PDF)

July 13, 2016

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House
H-232, United States Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker:

We, the following pro-growth, pro-innovation, free-market advocates, ask the House of Representatives to immediately take up and pass the common-sense biotech labeling bill that recently passed in the Senate by a 63-30 vote. This bipartisan agreement—Roberts-Stabenow—will establish a national labeling standard that will protect consumers, advance market-based principles, and support sound science.

We want to make it absolutely clear that this legislation will prevent the proliferation of costly, unconstitutional state-based labeling mandates. To date, more than 50 bills have been introduced in dozens of states to require the labeling of genetically modified foods, or GMOs. A Vermont law took effect on July 1. If Congress fails to act, Vermont and other states following suit will upend the nation’s entire market system for food, from farming to supply to retail.

GMOs are among the most analyzed subjects in science. With thousands of global studies affirming safety, the science over GM foods is unquestionably settled. The world’s most prestigious science, health, and academic institutions have confirmed and re-confirmed that GMO science does not pose a risk to our health, and GM foods are as safe and/or safer than conventional or organic foods.

Yet, activists—like those in Vermont—still sound the anti-GMO alarm, and their failure to consider the science when advocating policy betrays their true agenda. The activists’ ultimate goal is not “freedom of choice” or the “right-to-know” for consumers, as they claim, but to drive GM foods out of the market.

An economy based on free enterprise requires a consistent, national labeling solution to maximize the consumer’s right-to-know and allow for competition and innovation to thrive. The alternative of state-based mandates will undermine the market resulting in higher prices and fewer choices for all Americans. The House must act to pass this critical, market-based proposal to protect farmers, families, and businesses. If not, anti-GMO activists will continue to stigmatize biotech science through their organized, yet deceitful, campaign of state-based labeling mandates.

We urge the House of Representatives to approve the Roberts-Stabenow legislation this week before the August recess.

Thank you,
Jerry Rogers – President, Capitol Allies
Andrew Langer – President, Institute for Liberty
Pete Sepp – President, National Taxpayers Union
George Landrith – President, Frontiers of Freedom
Seton Motley – President, Less Government