Postings

Congress to protect all Medicare beneficiaries in reconciliation bill
Consumer Action joined 45 leading consumer, disability, minority health and provider organizations in thanking Congress for taking steps to protect Medicare Advantage beneficiaries when adding new benefits to fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare and encouraging lawmakers to maintain this language in the final bill. The letter comes as Congress considers adding vision, hearing and dental benefits to FFS Medicare as part of its emerging reconciliation package.

More can be done to protect consumers and patients during pharmaceutical mergers
The pharmaceutical industry has become increasingly concentrated in recent years, often resulting in higher prices and reduced choice for consumers. Increasing evidence shows that consumers are paying higher prices for prescription drugs and losing out on access and choice because of less innovation by drug companies. Advocates argue that the Federal Trade Commission’s current approach to monitoring pharmaceutical mergers, and its historically pro-merger policy, fails to fully protect American consumers and patients.

Public health policy versus pharmaceutical industry IP rights
Advocacy groups ask the White House to ensure that vaccines whose development was wholly or in part developed with taxpayer funding are not held hostage by unfair patent restrictions that hinder public health goals.

Prioritizing health equity to overcome the coronavirus pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed stunning gaps in the U.S. public health and health care systems and highlighted the negative effects of hundreds of years of structural inequities and systemic racism on our communities. The U.S. COVID-19 response has been marked by politicization of public health, skepticism of science, and a lack of a national plan. For people with disabilities, low-income families, communities of color, and those living in congregate settings, COVID-19 has exacerbated inequities with fatal consequences. Advocates joined together in making recommendations to the Biden administration: from community mitigation to testing and tracing to safe quarantine, working and sharing lessons with nations around the world. An equitable and fair COVID-19 response ensures the safety and healthcare needs of our most vulnerable communities.

Advocates urge the Biden administration to slash drug costs
Advocates wrote to the Biden administration asking the President-elect to immediately implement a series of reforms to slash prescription drug costs once he takes office. Advocates urged the President-elect to authorize more generic competition through patent licensing, launch a demonstration project in Medicare to link payments to vastly lower costs paid broadly and prosecute pharmaceutical companies for anti-competitive behavior. Americans currently spend more on prescription drugs than anyone else in the world. There were 717 drug price increases so far this year, and just seven of them on generics, bumping prices up by 4.5 percent on average. It’s time to improve the lives of patients and families by lowering drug prices and making medicines affordable.

Seniors deserve a simplified Medicare enrollment process
Consumer Action joined Better Medicare Alliance (BMA), the leading research and advocacy organization supporting Medicare Advantage, in unveiling a new white paper that contains a set of comprehensive recommendations to reimagine Medicare enrollment and empower beneficiaries to make better sense of their coverage options. The coalition’s five-pronged plan, entitled “Empowering Beneficiaries and Modernizing Medicare Enrollment,” offers bold recommendations for reform, including shifting all Medicare enrollment responsibilities from the Social Security Administration to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Patients deserve access to cheaper prescription drugs
The Food and Drug Administration sought input for improvements to its generic drug approval process, including for complex generic drugs. Advocates stressed the importance of implementing policies that increase competition among drug companies and reduce barriers to cheaper prescription drugs. It’s time Americans have greater access to more affordable drugs and newly approved generic medicines.

The next COVID-19 relief package should include these critical consumer protections
Millions of people and small businesses in the United States are experiencing tremendous financial distress because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment is skyrocketing and families are struggling to put food on the table. Congress and the administration need to enact broad-based, efficient, and effective relief that goes far beyond the CARES Act to protect people’s homes, cars, bank accounts, income, and benefits so that they can weather this crisis. Consumer Action joined nearly 100 consumer, civil rights, community and other public interest groups weigh in on recommendations for Congress' next stimulus package.

AbbVie—Allergan merger a bad deal for consumers
As the Federal Trade Commission signs off on the $63 billion deal between AbbVie and Allergen, advocates warn that the merger will reduce competition in a number of markets where AbbVie and Allergan directly overlap with each other. The deal will also exacerbate competitive problems that already exist in the pharmaceutical drug industry relating to rebate walls and patent abuses.

All insurers must make coronavirus tests and treatment free to patients
Americans have been urged to seek medical help if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19, but out-of-pocket costs could put insured patients into serious medical debt, or worse, deter them from seeking treatment at all — causing undue suffering and death, and exacerbating the pandemic. A coalition of more than 80 advocacy groups came together to urge all health insurance corporations to waive all patient fees for care associated with COVID-19, including copays and deductibles.

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