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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Getting Doctor Lists Right

Under a new state law, California consumers could get money back if they were charged out-of-network prices after going to a medical provider who was listed in their health plan’s network. (Emily Bazar, 9/6)

5. Political Cartoon: 'Best Seller?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Best Seller?'" by Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


It's a new building
And a new training model.


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Summaries Of The News:

Campaign 2016

6. On Heels Of EpiPen Outrage, Clinton Unveils Plan Targeting High Drug Prices

Hillary Clinton says she would create of an oversight panel to investigate price spikes on older medicines with little competition. But some see language in the proposal as reassuring to the pharmaceutical industry.

Reuters: Clinton Offers Plan To Curb 'Unjustified' Price Hikes On Life-Saving Drugs
Hillary Clinton said on Friday that if elected to the White House she would create an oversight panel to protect U.S. consumers from large price hikes on long-available, lifesaving drugs and to import alternative treatments if necessary, adding to her pledges to rein in overall drug prices. Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, would seek to give the panel an "aggressive new set of enforcement tools," including the ability to levy fines and impose penalties on manufacturers when there has been an "unjustified, outlier price increase" on a long-available or generic drug, her campaign said. (Becker and Pierson, 9/2)

The Washington Post: Clinton Unveils Plan To Stop Price-Gouging On Old Drugs
Clinton's plan is carefully delineated to target "excessive, outlier" price hikes on "long-standing" treatments that haven't had any major improvements and have little or no competition. That's a clear attempt to reassure the pharmaceutical industry that government intervention won't squelch the development of new, pricey treatments. According to the campaign, the initiative will be focused on drugs without patent protection. (Johnson, 9/2)

Politico: New Clinton Drug Plan Targets Price Hikes, Citing EpiPen
Clinton proposed creating a federal consumer oversight body that would investigate and respond to price hikes of older drugs with limited competition, as was the case with Mylan's EpiPen. The board could wield enforcement power when it determines a price increase is unjustified. Offending companies would be fined or charged increased rebates. That money would be used to support new programs to make lower-cost alternatives available and increase approval of competing treatments. (Karlin-Smith, 9/2)

The Wall Street Journal: Hillary Clinton’s Drug Plan: Only Minor Side Effects
At first blush, this is scary talk for investors. Any action to curb price increases on older drugs would hurt manufacturers that rely on them to generate growth. But their share prices already have taken a beating over the past year. In addition, the plan offers familiar solutions such as enabling Medicare to negotiate drug prices and eliminating tax deductions for drug advertisements directed at patients. Those policies, if enacted, would have a more comprehensively negative effect on the industry. Yet a closer look suggests that scenario is unlikely to come to pass. For instance, Mrs. Clinton’s plan notes the need to “ensure that there are proper incentives for real innovations that bring effective products to market.” (Grant, 9/2)

Bloomberg: Clinton To Propose Curbs On ‘Unjustified’ Drug Price Hikes
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, acting on her pledge to curb what she has called outrageous drug costs, outlined a set of proposals to crack down on “unjustified” increases on prices for older treatments. The plan adds to a year of attacks against pharmaceutical firms that have hiked the prices of life-saving treatments, including the outcry over Mylan NV’s EpiPen emergency allergy shot. The measures, released Friday on the candidate’s website, would give the U.S. government a broader role in determining the correct price for some drugs, a task that’s typically been off limits for federal regulators. (Cordeiro and Tracer, 9/2)

Marketplace: Clinton Drug Plan: Is It Enough?
At first glance, it may sound like Hillary Clinton's plan is an attempt to tackle drug prices overall. It's not. Clinton economic policy advisor Mike Shapiro said it's to go after an insidious problem where a subset of drug makers (think Turing and Mylan) crank up prices on generics, just because they can. (Gorenstein, 9/2)

Capitol Hill Watch

7. Lawmakers Probe Mylan's Medicaid Loophole

Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Frank Pallone, both Democrats, are asking the company for more information about whether EpiPen was classified as a "non-innovator" drug or a brand-name drug by the Medicaid program.

Reuters: U.S. Lawmakers Question Mylan's Medicaid EpiPen Rebates
Two key U.S. congressional committee members on Friday called for an investigation into whether Mylan NV, under fire for raising the price of its EpiPen device, overcharged the government's low-income healthcare program for the allergy treatment. In a letter to the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Frank Pallone, both Democrats, seek clarification of whether EpiPen was classified as a generic, "non-innovator" drug, or a brand-name drug by the Medicaid program. (Beasley, 9/2)

The Hill: Dems Call For Probe Into EpiPen Maker's Medicaid Charges
Two Democratic congressmen are raising questions about whether Mylan NV, the company facing backlash for raising the price of its EpiPen device, overcharged the government's Medicaid program for the allergy treatment. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) wrote a letter to the secretary of Department of Health and Human Services asking for clarification on whether EpiPen was considered a generic, "non-innovator" drug, or a brand-name drug by the Medicaid program, according to Reuters. (Hellmann, 9/3)

Meanwhile, the outrage surrounding the EpiPen maker has drawn attention to the FDA's backlog of generic drug applications —

Kaiser Health News: EpiPen Controversy Fuels Concerns Over Generic Drug Approval Backlog
Consumers and Congress members pushing for cheaper alternatives to the EpiPen and other high-priced drugs are seeking answers about a stubborn backlog of generic drug applications at the Food and Drug Administration that still stretches almost four years. As of July 1, the FDA had 4,036 generic drug applications awaiting approval, and the median time it takes for the FDA to approve a generic is now 47 months, according to the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, or GPhA. The FDA has approved more generics the past few years, but a flood of new applications has steadily added to the demand. (Lupkin, 9/6)

8. Fla. Republicans Relent, Urge Colleagues To Strip Everything Other Than Zika From Funding Bill

The lawmakers are desperate to get the legislation passed. They're even willing to drop the Planned Parenthood fight that has been the main holdup in the Senate. Meanwhile, NARAL targets Marco Rubio over his stance on Zika-related abortions.

The Hill: Florida GOP Ready To Retreat From Planned Parenthood Fight 
Several House Republicans in Florida say they’re willing to concede defeat in their party’s months-long battle over Planned Parenthood if that’s what it takes to pass a $1.1 billion funding package for the Zika virus. With Zika spreading rapidly in south Florida, even some of the most conservative members of Congress say GOP leaders should strike a deal with Democrats to get emergency money to their home state. (Ferris, 9/3)

The Hill: Florida Gov. Cancels Zika Funding Pitch To Congress
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), who expected to make a pitch to Congress for Zika funding on Tuesday, has cancelled his trip. In a statement Monday, the governor’s office said Scott will stay in Florida to continue monitoring response efforts to the damage caused by Hurricane Hermine, which hit Florida on Friday. The office said Scott’s previously scheduled trip to Washington, D.C., will be rescheduled for a future date. (Wheeler, 9/5)