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November 2019
Washington Watch

The Confusing, Halting Path of Legislating Healthcare Costs: Yes, No, Maybe, Whatever...?

Almost all elected officials – House Democrats, Senate Republicans and the White House – all favor lowering drug costs. The differences come over how to do it.

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Pharmaceutical lobbyists suggest that imposing co-pay limits smacks of government price fixing. Consumer groups counter that limiting price increases could be a valuable way to fight the skyrocketing cost of some drugs like insulin, which has seen increases from $175.57 for a 20-milliliter vial 15 years ago to $1,487 now for the same exact vial.

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The key decision for Trump is: Will it be Tuesday Trump or Thursday Trump? How committed is he to pushing Senate Republicans to get drug pricing legislation done as he has promised since 2016, or instead if he prefers to use non-action as a political hammer in his 2020 re-election fight?

September 2019
Washington Watch

Drug Pricing Update – Nothing Moving For Now

Over the past year, the administration’s tone has shifted as Republican state leaders have joined Democrats in talking about importing drugs from Canada, since none of the other potential solutions seem to be moving forward quickly enough.

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A 2018 study found that if 20% of U.S. prescriptions were filled in Canada, Canada would see its drug supply depleted in roughly 200 days.

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Insulin prices have spiked 300 percent in the U.S. over the past few years and has become a symbol of the striking price differences between the U.S. and Canada, where prices are about 10 times less. But the Trump proposal to open up imports from Canada would specifically not apply to insulin, according to HHS Sec. Azar.

Financial Fortitude

Will Your Banker Save You in the Next Crash?

Banking regulations are arcane and boring to all but those in the field. Consumer watchdog groups were rare or non-existent until Ralph Nader’s 1965 Unsafe at any Speed exposed auto manufacturers’ dismal safety records. Any financial sector watchdogs were no match for the relentless self-interest of the financial sector.

August 2019
Leslie Goes Boom

Senior Living 101

Continuing care: There is usually a substantial entrance fee plus a monthly charge. Requirements vary from state to state: financial ability to pay for a specific time frame is required to be accepted into such a facility as well as medical criteria. However, you can move seamlessly from a low level of care to the highest level without ever needing to leave.

Tunnel Visions

When and How We Grow Old: Public Opinion About the Aging Process

In 2019, Baby Boomers/Silent Generation (loosely defined as pre-1945 and 1946-54) were far less likely to perceive people to be “old” by their 70s, while Millennials and Gen Xers (born 1955 to 1980) are significantly more inclined than their older counterparts to perceive people to be “old” by their 70s.

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Well over a majority of Americans felt 80 is not too old to engage in spirited activities that involve risk-taking, including falling in love (88%), running a marathon (72%), starting a business (69%), getting a tattoo (68%), even riding a motorcycle (62%)!

Washington Watch

Surprise! We Kept You Alive But Killed Your Finances

Studies show that two-thirds of Americans say they are "very worried" or "somewhat worried" that they or a family member will receive a surprise bill. These worries are so profound that they are the most-cited concern related to health care costs and other household expenses in dozens of surveys.

July 2019
Washington Watch

I’m on Social Security – Why Can Debt Collectors Garnish My Benefits for Student Loans?

But the worst part is that many seniors are now having their Social Security benefits garnished to pay off these student debts. Student debt experts say that these seniors are the fastest growing segment of student loan borrowers.

May 2019

Poppies Still a Way to Honor Veterans

Poppy sales are based on a simple premise: Honoring the dead by helping the living. Proceeds go to veteran assistance programs, especially for vets who have been maimed and disabled fighting for our country.

Washington Watch

Old Appears to be the New Young on Capitol Hill

More than 20% of the new lawmakers are millennials, making this a particularly fresh-faced freshman class. But many lawmakers are already seniors. As of October 2018, the average age of the 115th Congress was 57.8 years for the House and 61.8 for the Senate ...What's unusual is that the average American is about 20 years younger than their representative in Congress.

April 2019
Washington Watch

Weighing the Differences Between Social Security Policies and Politics

Larson's bill would change benefits, update the cost of living adjustments and fix those long-term funding issues. It would i

Increase benefits for those who have paid into the system almost across the board. It would apply about 25 percent of the money raised to increase benefits, and the rest would cover projected deficits in the Social Security trust over the next 75 years.

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Conservative lawmakers want benefits cut by raising the retirement age and imposing stingier cost of living adjustments. Still another group of conservative Republicans have long advocated privatizing Social Security completely.

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