California Madness

Play or Pay is back. California liberals are working feverishly to enact this tired employer-mandate idea, requiring businesses in the state to provide health insurance to workers or pay a big tax to fund a new state-run health coverage program. The last thing that deficit-plagued California needs right now is a new job-killing tax to fund another multi-billion-dollar government program.

But the state is preoccupied with the recall election, as I found when I was in San Francisco last week. The leader of the State Senate, Democrat John Burton, is taking advantage of the distraction by trying to get his bill enacted before the state legislature adjourns Sept. 12 and signed by Gov. Gray Davis before he faces his fate in the recall election in October.

Locking health insurance to the workplace in a state that is as highly mobile and technologically savvy as California is absolutely the wrong way to go and passage could set a VERY dangerous precedent for other states exploring universal health care options. Empowering health care consumers through tax reform is the much better option. To read more, click here.

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Medicare: Staffers on the Medicare conference committee have been working over the August recess to get as much work as possible done before their bosses return next week. It was evident this week how tricky those negotiations will be as rural health care again became a stumbling block: Sen. Chuck Grassley pulled his staff from the talks because he didn’t feel his issues were getting sufficient attention.

The conferees also will be forced once again to face drug importation when they return. Furor over this issue has not died down during the August recess, and Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-MN) and his allies, fresh from a series of townhall meetings, will push to include his dangerous idea in the final Medicare bill to legalize drug imports from 26 countries.

The FDA weighed in this week on drug importation with a stern warning to states and municipalities that have been cooking up their own plans to illegally import cheaper drugs from Canada and elsewhere. Here’s the link to the FDA letter: www.fda.gov/opacom/gonot.html.

I believe that the tipping point leading to House passage of drug importation legislation in July was the growing awareness that other rich countries, like France, Germany, and Canada are not paying their fair share of research and development costs, pushing the bulk of the burden onto U.S. consumers. Americans are growing angry, especially since those who usually wind up paying the highest prices are seniors who are without drug coverage and therefore someone to negotiate discounts on their behalf.

As much as anything, legislators wanted to send a wake-up call to the pharmaceutical companies to fix this problem. But the companies are over a barrel: Most countries have ?compulsory licensing? laws that allow them to violate patent protection and copy the drugs if the companies don’t agree to the price controlled rates the governments offer.

The pharmaceutical companies most often make these deals since protecting their intellectual property rights is the lifeblood of their industry.

The solutions will involve complex issues of international trade to empower a tough new bargaining stance by the companies. It’s time for the industry to let Congress know it has heard the message and to get away from the bitter and divisive debate so it can begin working with elected officials on a civil discussion of solutions.

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Moving on. I hope you will join me in sending a fond farewell to Joe Moser, our policy analyst who has done such a splendid job for the Galen Institute in his nearly two years with us.

Joe has been lured away by Rep. Heather Wilson, a Republican from my native state of New Mexico, who is heading a task force on Medicaid reform in the House. Joe is very interested in Medicaid, and this will be a wonderful new opportunity for him to apply his writing and policy skills to this important issue.

Best wishes and many thanks, Joe, for your terrific work.

Grace-Marie Turner

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About the author

Play or Pay is back. California liberals are working feverishly to enact this tired employer-mandate idea, requiring businesses in the state to provide health insurance to workers or pay a big tax to fund a new state-run health coverage program. The last thing that deficit-plagued California needs right now is a new job-killing tax to fund another multi-billion-dollar government program.

But the state is preoccupied with the recall election, as I found when I was in San Francisco last week. The leader of the State Senate, Democrat John Burton, is taking advantage of the distraction by trying to get his bill enacted before the state legislature adjourns Sept. 12 and signed by Gov. Gray Davis before he faces his fate in the recall election in October.

Locking health insurance to the workplace in a state that is as highly mobile and technologically savvy as California is absolutely the wrong way to go and passage could set a VERY dangerous precedent for other states exploring universal health care options. Empowering health care consumers through tax reform is the much better option. To read more, click here.

******

Medicare: Staffers on the Medicare conference committee have been working over the August recess to get as much work as possible done before their bosses return next week. It was evident this week how tricky those negotiations will be as rural health care again became a stumbling block: Sen. Chuck Grassley pulled his staff from the talks because he didn’t feel his issues were getting sufficient attention.

The conferees also will be forced once again to face drug importation when they return. Furor over this issue has not died down during the August recess, and Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-MN) and his allies, fresh from a series of townhall meetings, will push to include his dangerous idea in the final Medicare bill to legalize drug imports from 26 countries.

The FDA weighed in this week on drug importation with a stern warning to states and municipalities that have been cooking up their own plans to illegally import cheaper drugs from Canada and elsewhere. Here’s the link to the FDA letter: www.fda.gov/opacom/gonot.html.

I believe that the tipping point leading to House passage of drug importation legislation in July was the growing awareness that other rich countries, like France, Germany, and Canada are not paying their fair share of research and development costs, pushing the bulk of the burden onto U.S. consumers. Americans are growing angry, especially since those who usually wind up paying the highest prices are seniors who are without drug coverage and therefore someone to negotiate discounts on their behalf.

As much as anything, legislators wanted to send a wake-up call to the pharmaceutical companies to fix this problem. But the companies are over a barrel: Most countries have ?compulsory licensing? laws that allow them to violate patent protection and copy the drugs if the companies don’t agree to the price controlled rates the governments offer.

The pharmaceutical companies most often make these deals since protecting their intellectual property rights is the lifeblood of their industry.

The solutions will involve complex issues of international trade to empower a tough new bargaining stance by the companies. It’s time for the industry to let Congress know it has heard the message and to get away from the bitter and divisive debate so it can begin working with elected officials on a civil discussion of solutions.

*********

Moving on. I hope you will join me in sending a fond farewell to Joe Moser, our policy analyst who has done such a splendid job for the Galen Institute in his nearly two years with us.

Joe has been lured away by Rep. Heather Wilson, a Republican from my native state of New Mexico, who is heading a task force on Medicaid reform in the House. Joe is very interested in Medicaid, and this will be a wonderful new opportunity for him to apply his writing and policy skills to this important issue.

Best wishes and many thanks, Joe, for your terrific work.

Grace-Marie Turner

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

About the author