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breaking news

Bill Kadereit, pres

(click here for previous FORUM articles )

Studies on Rx Prices and Congressional Gridlock

Recently released studies show how much prescription drug prices are increasing in the USA and how much more Americans are paying on average than in comparison countries. Meanwhile, Congress is in partisan politics gridlock on legislation to make medicines more affordable.

A study by Scripps Research Translational Institute from 2012 to 2017, focusing on a total of 49 brand-name drugs, found the median cost of the drugs increased 76 percent during the six-year period.

Research by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found the pre-rebate price for drugs in the U.S. was 4.3 times higher than the United Kingdom's price, 3.8 times higher than the Japanese price and 3.4 times higher than the Ontario, Canada price.


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President Trump announced on July 5 he plans to issue an executive order that will create a “favored nations clause,” which would mandate the U.S. pay no more for a given drug than the lowest price for other countries. He did not provide details on exactly how it would work or be enforced.

I reported in my May 20 NRLN President’s Forum that the House had passed and forwarded to the Senate three bills supported by the NRLN. The bills would: 1. Prohibit the practice of “pay-for-delay,” in which brand name drug companies compensate generic drug makers to delay the entry of lower price generic drugs into the market; 2. Provide an efficient path for generic drug manufacturers to obtain samples of the branded product so the generic company can perform the testing necessary to show that its product is equivalent to the brand-name product; 3. Increase competition in the generic drug market. If you missed the message, it can be read at:

The Senate has not taken action on the three bills. A news article has reported that Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman, and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Ranking Member, of the Finance Committee are trying to get a deal to reduce drug costs for federal programs and the people they cover. The source for the article was a GOP aide who spoke on condition of anonymity.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reportedly working on a proposal that would give the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the power to negotiate lower drug costs for Medicare and extend the drug discounts to private insurance plans.

The NRLN has lobbied with Speaker Pelosi’s Senior Health Policy Adviser that instead of “negotiating” drug prices, a more effective way to reduce Medicare prescription drug costs would be for Congress to enact policy mandating that HHS implement a “competitive bidding” model used in business and industry that will permit direct purchasing of prescription drugs from drug manufacturers. Competitive bidding should be applied wherever two or more FDA approved generic drugs, or two or more brand drugs, or a generic and brand drugs (upon patent expiration) treat the same medical condition. Competitive bidding will not create bigger government, it will make HHS more efficient and save Medicare and beneficiaries billions annually!

If the differences caused by party politics isn’t enough to keep Congress in gridlock on prescription drugs, there are always the 1,265 ever-present lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry making the rounds on Capitol Hill. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) — reported spending $9.91 million during the opening three months of the year, only slightly less than the $9.96 million the group spent on lobbying in the first quarter of a record-breaking 2018. PhRMA spent nearly $4 million more in the first quarter of 2019 than it did in the closing months of 2018.

To learn whether your U.S. Representative and Senators have been receiving campaign and Leadership Political Action Committee contributions from the Pharmaceutical and Health Products industry go to the NRLN website at and scroll down to the graphic with a hand holding a bag of money and click on the link. The NRLN has compiled the information from OpenSecrets.Org, Center for Responsive Politics.

We have begun preliminary planning for the NRLN’s fall Fly-In to Washington, DC, Sept. 22-25. One of the key issues we will be advocating is the need to pass legislation to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

Bill Kadereit, President
National Retiree Legislative Network


Congress Should Waive Benefits Waiting Period for Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients

Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other organs in the body. Click here to TAKE ACTION to email the NRLN’s sample letter to your U.S. Representative and Senators to urge them to pass the Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act. Passage of the bill would waive the 5-month waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance and the 24-month waiting period for eligible Medicare benefits.


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NRLN members are saving big with the Free Health Savings Rx Card℠

The NRLN has arranged to offer you a Health Savings Rx Card™, at NO COST, that offers you and your family savings on prescription drugs, plus vision and hearing services and products.Click here to access the Rx Savings Card℠ website.


amazon smile AmazonSmile Program to Benefit the American Retirees Education Program (AREF)

The NRLN board created the American Retiree Education Foundation (AREF) in 2014 as a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible, nonprofit education foundation to expand the research and educational reach of the NRLN and to enable NRLN to sharpen its focus as an organization lobbying for the passage of federal legislation and regulations that benefit retirees.

For example, the white paper on Protecting Pension Assets which is used to educate members of Congress on the need for legislation to prevent pension plan sponsors from using plan assets for non-pension expenses was funded by AREF.. Access the white paper here.

You can help fund the AREF without costing you anything extra when you make a purchase online from Amazon through its AmazonSmile program. Click here to learn more about AmazonSmile.


report card

NRLN Provides New “Report Card” Feature on Members of Congress

Do your Senators or Representative support bills that help retirees? Check it out here!




The articles and opinion pieces below are for information and are not necessarily a reflection of the NRLN’s position on issues. The NRLN is nonpartisan and its positions on retirement issues are presented in its Legislative Agenda and white papers that can be accessed from the Legislative Agenda tab.

Don't Slash Medicare In Last-Minute Budget Agreement
From Sally Pipes; Forbes ~ Jul 20, 2019

As pensions fail, Congress ponders, and career savings evaporate
By Laura Olson; The Morning Call ~ Jul 20, 2019

Federal judge upholds Trump's expansion of non-ObamaCare plans
By Jessie Hellmann; The Hill ~ Jul 19, 2019

The Basics Of Required Minimum Distributions With Your Retirement Account
From Jamie Hopkins; Forbes ~ Jul 19, 2019

Three Important Questions You Must Ask Your Aging Parents
From Robert Mauterstock; Forbes ~ Jul 17, 2019

IRS tax tips: 6 ways to stop cybercriminals from accessing your private information
By James Leggate; Fox Business ~ Jul 17, 2019

Common Medications Can Masquerade As Dementia In Seniors
By Judith Graham; Kaiser Health News ~ Jul 18, 2019

Trump’s DOL Pick Fought Fiduciary Rule
By Ross Snel; Barron’s ~ Jul 19, 2019

Study finds CMS' nixed change to Part D could have hindered drug accessibility
By Robert King; FierceHealthcare ~ Jul 16, 2019

Democratic chair: Medicare negotiating drug prices not moving before August
By Peter Sullivan; The Hill ~ Jul 16, 2019

Insurers Running Medicare Advantage Plans Overbill Taxpayers By Billions As Feds Struggle To Stop It
By Fred Schulte & Lauren Weber; Kaiser Health News ~ Jul 16, 2019

Supreme Court takes fiduciary case for overfunded DB plan
By Hazel Bradford; Pensions & Investments ~ Jul 16, 2019

Rick Scott: PhRMA hasn't provided 'a single answer' on lower drug prices
By Alex Gangitano; The Hill ~ Jul 15, 2019

Did Your Health Plan Deny You Care? Fight Back.
By Bernard J. Wolfson; Kaiser Health News ~ Jul 15, 2019

Republicans make U-turn on health care
By Alexander Bolton; The Hill ~ Jul 14, 2019

These pension plans are at risk of going broke. Now lawmakers need to agree on a fix
By Lorie Konish; CNBC ~ Jul 12, 2019

Why Is Healthcare So Expensive for Retirees?
By Maurie Backman; The Motley Fool ~ Jul 13, 2019

Opinion: Trump Scraps A Reform That Would Have Saved Patients Billions
From Sally Pipes; Forbes ~ Jul 12, 2019

Opinion: Price Transparency Will Deliver Real Results for Patients
From Josh Archambault; Forbes ~ Jul 12, 2019

DOJ Lawyers Try New Tricks To Undo Obamacare. Will It Work?
By Julie Appleby; Kaiser Health News ~ Jul 12, 2019

Opinion: Retirees/Workers Having Less Say In Protecting Pensions As M&As, Bankruptcies Happen Faster
From Ted Knutson; Forbes ~ Jul 12, 2019

PBMs Breathe Sigh Of Relief As Trump Kills Drug Rebate Proposal And Pharma Companies Become Next Likely Target
Via KHN Morning Briefing; Kaiser Health News ~ Jul 12, 2019

Medicare Must Keep A Closer Eye On Hospices And Nursing Homes That Put Patients At Risk
From Howard Gleckman; Forbes ~ Jul 12, 2019

Want to solve surprise medical bills? Listen to patients
From Vidor Friedman; The Hill ~ Jul 11, 2019

Medicare is rapidly running out of money: Alex Azar
By Julia Limitone; Fox Business ~ Jul 11, 2019

Grassley: Deal to lower drug prices moving forward 'very soon'
By Peter Sullivan; The Hill ~ Jul 11, 2019

For Big Pharma, the revolving door keeps spinning
From Karen Hobert Flynn; The Hill ~ Jul 11, 2019

Trump signs executive order aimed at improving kidney disease treatment
By Jessie Hellmann; The Hill ~ Jul 10, 2019

Taking the 'surprise' out of medical billing

House committee OKs multiemployer pension reform bill
By Hazel Bradford; Pensions & Investments ~ Jul 10, 2019

Don't miss the moment: Congress must capitalize on momentum to hold Big Pharma accountable
From Lauren Aronson; The Hill ~ Jul 09, 2019

Health Law On Trial (Again): How A Long-Shot Case Grew Legs And Now Looms As An ACA Threat And 2020 Election Issue
Via KHN Morning Briefing; Kaiser Health News ~ Jul 09, 2019

Opinion: The Financial Industry Preys on 401(k) Fees. It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way
By Dean Baker, Truthout.Org – July 8, 2019

GOP senators raise concerns over potential deal to lower drug prices
By Peter Sullivan; The Hill ~ Jul 09, 2019

Appeals court panel grills Democratic defenders on constitutionality of Obamacare
By Nate Raymond; Reuters ~ Jul 09, 2019

Opinion: Taxing Inheritances Won’t Fix Social Security
From Rachel Greszler & Travis Nix; National Review ~ Jul 09, 2019

Trump's health care transparency order a positive step toward a true patient-controlled system
From David Balat; The Hill ~ Jul 08, 2019

Setting the record straight about America's multiemployer pension crisis
From Gene Kalwarski; The Hill ~ Jul 08, 2019

Congress returns to pressure to get spending deals done
By Paul M. Krawzak; Roll Call ~ Jul 08, 2019

Democratic group hits GOP attorneys general in six-figure ad campaign on ObamaCare
By Jessie Hellmann; The Hill ~ Jul 08, 2019

Trump misleadingly says prescription drug prices have gone down
By Zack Budryk; The Hill ~ Jul 07, 2019

Congress has ambitious agenda tackling health care costs
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar; The Associated Press ~ Jul 07, 2019

Trump Plans Executive Order To Lower Drug Prices
By Rachel Stoltzfoos; The Daily Caller ~ Jul 05, 2019

Recent Executive Order Makes the Road to Increased Healthcare Transparency Unclear
By Cassandra Paolillo; JDSupra ~ Jul 03, 2019

Generics more expensive than branded drugs on Part D, study says
By Robert King; FierceHealthcare ~ Jul 03, 2019

Opinion: Facebook Takes Action Against Misleading Healthcare Claims
From Emma Woollacott; Forbes ~ Jul 02, 2019

Drug prices in 2019 are surging, with hikes at 5 times inflation
By Aimee Picchi; CBS News ~ Jul 01, 2019

Trump has blessed states’ exploration of importing drugs. Will it catch on?
By Phil Galewitz, KHN; FierceHealthcare ~ Jul 01, 2019

Drug prices persistently rising despite Trump efforts
By Sarah Owermohle; Politico ~ Jul 01, 2019

Nancy Pelosi’s latest Medicare proposal would pass drug discounts to all consumers
By Berkeley Lovelace Jr. ; CNBC ~ Jul 01, 2019

Raytheon sued over mortality tables used to calculate pension benefits
By Robert Steyer; Pensions & Investments ~ Jul 01, 2019

The $100,000 Uncashed Pension Check
By Ashlea Ebeling; Forbes ~ Jun 29, 2019

Pelosi Aims For Feds To Negotiate Drug Prices, Even For Private Insurers
By Emmarie Huetteman; Kaiser Health News ~ Jun 28, 2019

Supreme Court to decide if DB participants can sue when plan is not underfunded
By Hazel Bradford; Pensions & Investments ~ Jun 28, 2019

The Future of Retirement Legislation After SECURE
From Brian Menickella; Forbes ~ Jun 28, 2019

Opinion: You better plan for a smaller Social Security check
From Paul Brandus; MarketWatch ~ Jun 28, 2019

FDA warns of dangerous cyber vulnerabilities on Medtronic insulin pumps
By Maggie Miller; The Hill ~ Jun 27, 2019

House Votes to Derail SEC Advice Package
By Ross Snel; Barron’s ~ Jun 27, 2019

White House Considers Capital Gains Tax Break That Would Benefit Wealthy
By Saleha Mohsin; Bloomberg ~ Jun 27, 2019

Opinion: Multiemployer pension bailout plan is fatally flawed
From Olivia S. Mitchell; The Hill ~ Jun 27, 2019

Senate Health Committee advances bipartisan package to lower health costs
By Peter Sullivan; The Hill ~ Jun 26, 2019

Multiemployer pension crisis puts active participants under heavy burden – report
By Hazel Bradford; Pensions & Investments ~ Jun 26, 2019

Lawmakers map out path forward on Medicare Part D
By Julia Manchester; The Hill ~ Jun 25, 2019

Trump’s Executive Order To Increase Transparency For Health Care Costs May Seem Intuitive, But Research Suggests It Could Backfire
Via KHN Morning Briefing; Kaiser Health News ~ Jun 25, 2019

Social Security Is Mailing Out Incorrect Benefit Statements
From Laurence Kotlikoff; Forbes ~ Jun 25, 2019

Trump aims at health cost transparency with executive order
By Rachel Roubein; Politico ~ Jun 24, 2019

Thanks to Trump, the healthcare choice is yours
From David Balat; The Hill ~ Jun 24, 2019

The U.S. Gets Hundreds of Millions From Big Pharma in Co-Pay Settlements
By Bill Alpert; Barron’s ~ Jun 24, 2019

Setting the record straight on 5 Social Security myths
From Liz Weston; MarketWatch ~ Jun 24, 2019

Big Pharma' is the big winner of the USMCA
From Veronika J. Wirtz, Warren A. Kaplan & Kevin Gallagher; The Hill ~ Jun 23, 2019

The swamp strikes back — health-care edition
From Katy Talento; The Hill ~ Jun 22, 2019

What's the Difference Between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans?
By Kailey Fralick; The Motley Fool ~ Jun 22, 2019

America is selling its seniors short
From Constantine Katsoris; The Hill ~ Jun 21, 2019

Key Trump proposal to lower drug prices takes step forward
By Peter Sullivan; The Hill ~ Jun 21, 2019

Cancer patients left in the lurch when some drugmakers stop clinical trials
From Mikkael A. Sekeres, ; The Hill ~ Jun 21, 2019

Getting Social Security Fixed May Be the Best Thing You Can Do for Your Finances
By Jeff Sommer; The New York Times ~ Jun 21, 2019

Why So Many People (Mistakenly) Believe Social Security Adds To The Deficit
From Teresa Ghilarducci; Forbes ~ Jun 20, 2019

Opinion: Patent settlements, not lawsuits, are lowering drug costs
From Michael Busler; The Hill ~ Jun 20, 2019

Senators’ Decision To Go With ‘Benchmark Payment’ Strategy To Address Surprise Bills Deals Blow To Hospital Groups
Via KHN Morning Briefing; Kaiser Health News ~ Jun 20, 2019

Senators Agree Surprise Medical Bills Must Go. But How?
By Rachel Bluth; Kaiser Health News ~ Jun 18, 2019

Opinion: HHS's ideas for rearranging Medicare would raise costs for seniors
From Peter Pitts; The Hill ~ Jun 18, 2019

Trump's health care focus puts GOP on edge
By Alexander Bolton; The Hill ~ Jun 18, 2019

A Trio of Trump Rules Will Remake U.S. Health Insurance Markets
By John Tozzi; Bloomberg ~ Jun 18, 2019

Trump says he will roll out new health care plan in next couple of months
By Rebecca Klar; The Hill ~ Jun 17, 2019

Pelosi: Dems will 'fight relentlessly' against Trump's ObamaCare repeal attempts
By Peter Sullivan; The Hill ~ Jun 17, 2019

A New Bipartisan Bill Could Transform The Way We Pay For Hospital Care
By Avik Roy; Forbes ~ Jun 17, 2019

Drug Prices Are a Populist Campaign Issue. Here Are the Latest Proposals to Lower Costs.
By Katie Thomas; The New York Times ~ Jun 16, 2019

Out-of-pockets costs: Medicine's biggest problem and government and industry's biggest opportunity
From Justin McCarthy; The Hill ~ Jun 15, 2019

1 in 10 Americans skipping doses as prescription drug prices rise
By Jonathan LaPook; CBS News ~ Jun 15, 2019

Here's How the FCC's Aggressive New Plan to Combat Robocalls Will Work
By Bernhard Warner; Fortune ~ Jun 14, 2019

Drugmakers sue over Trump administration TV price disclosure rule
By Nathaniel Weixel; The Hill ~ Jun 14, 2019

It's time to let Medicare to negotiate drug prices
From Max Richtman; The Hill ~ Jun 14, 2019

Healthcare breaches reported in May exposed data on 2 million people
By Jessica Kim Cohen; Modern Healthcare ~ Jun 14, 2019

A Trio of Trump Rules Will Remake U.S. Health Insurance Markets
By John Tozzi; Bloomberg ~ Jun 14, 2019

No, Multi-Employer Pension Woes Have Not Been Fixed
From Elizabeth Bauer; Forbes ~ Jun 14, 2019

Why So Many Older Americans Rate Their Health As Good Or Even Excellent
By Judith Graham; Kaiser Health News ~ Jun 13, 2019

Taxpayers, businesses will also lose if pensions go bust
From Bradley A. Blakeman; The Hill ~ Jun 13, 2019

Insurers must do more to prevent surprise medical bills
From Carter Johnson; The Hill ~ Jun 13, 2019

Retirees Might Run Out of Money 10 Years Before They Die
By Ben Steverman; Bloomberg ~ Jun 13, 2019

Capping Seniors' Out-Of-Pocket Prescription Drug Costs Could Increase Medicare Prices -- And Premiums
By Avik Roy; Forbes ~ Jun 11, 2019

Senate Judiciary Committee plans markup of drug pricing bill this month
By Peter Sullivan; The Hill ~ Jun 12, 2019

Social Security Is Staring at Its First Real Shortfall in Decades. Big Cuts Could Follow.
By Jeff Sommer; The New York Times ~ Jun 12, 2019

4 Key Lessons from Latest Social Security Trustees’ Report
From Charles Blahous; CNS News ~ Jun 11, 2019

Let's Get Congress Off Social Security's Back
From Nancy Altman; Forbes ~ Jun 11, 2019

Help Is Almost Here for Retirement Savers
From Steven Rattner; The New York Times ~ Jun 11, 2019

Multiemployer pension reform bill approved by House Education and Labor Committee
By Hazel Bradford; Pensions & Investments ~ Jun 11, 2019

Breaking Down the Alexander-Murray Senate Health Reform Plan
From Sally Pipes; Forbes ~ Jun 10, 2019

Considering basic Medicare with no backup insurance? That could be a costly mistake, experts say
By Sarah O’Brien; CNBC ~ Jun 09, 2019

What The New 'Best Interest' Rule To Protect Investors Will Do
From Pam Krueger, NA; Forbes ~ Jun 10, 2019

Pension Problems Come With Raytheon, United Technologies Deal
By Kevin Curran; Real Money ~ Jun 10, 2019

Noise can adversely affect human health and quality of life
From Dr. Jonathan Fielding; The Hill ~ Jun 07, 2019

Opinion: 10,000 steps a day: Is it necessary for better health?
From Dr. William S. Yancy Jr. & Jared Rosenberg; The Hill ~ Jun 08, 2019

Liberals fight their own party over drug prices
By Adam Cancryn; Politico ~ Jun 06, 2019

Opinion: CVS And Walgreens Are On Different Paths To In-Store Healthcare
From Bruce Japsen; Forbes ~ Jun 07, 2019

FCC votes to allow phone carriers to block robocalls by default
By Harper Neidig; The Hill ~ Jun 06, 2019

Blowback Over Secret Nursing Home List Prompts Government To Announce Report Will Be Posted Publicly
Via KHN Morning Briefing; Kaiser Health News ~ Jun 06, 2019

Opinion: How Congress can make solid strides in drug pricing reform
From Amy Kapczynski; The Hill ~ Jun 06, 2019

Social Security Error Jeopardizes Medicare Coverage For 250,000 Seniors
By Susan Jaffe; Kaiser Health News ~ Jun 06, 2019

Pfizer had clues its blockbuster drug could prevent Alzheimer’s. Why didn’t it tell the world?
By Christopher Rowland, Washington Post – June 4, 2019

Democratic senators seek answers from Quest Diagnostics after data breach
By Maggie Miller; The Hill ~ Jun 05, 2019

Dropped From Health Insurance Without Warning: Was It Legal?
By Julie Appleby; Kaiser Health News ~ Jun 05, 2019

Are The Days Of Eye-Popping Rate Hikes Over? Health Law Premium Increases Fairly Moderate For 2020
Via KHN Morning Briefing; Kaiser Health News ~ Jun 04, 2019

Through ‘Expanded Access’ Program, FDA Wants To Remove Hurdles For Doctors Seeking Experimental Cancer Drugs
Via KHN Morning Briefing; Kaiser Health News ~ Jun 04, 2019

Long list of troubled nursing homes revealed by senators
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar; The Associated Press ~ Jun 03, 2019

Supreme Court rules against Obama-era provision on Medicare reimbursements
By Jacqueline Thomsen & Peter Sullivan; The Hill ~ Jun 03, 2019

U.S. Supreme Court to hear IBM retirement fund dispute
By Lawrence Hurley; Reuters ~ Jun 03, 2019

Retired coal miners seek Congress's help to preserve their pensions
By Tracie Mauriello; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ~ Jun 02, 2019

Consumers agree: Greater transparency among pharmacy benefit managers is needed
From Liam Sigaud; The Hill ~ Jun 01, 2019

Dem Rep’s Good Idea to Shield Workers’ Pensions
From Charles Blahous; CNS News ~ Jun 01, 2019

This bill could extend Social Security’s solvency for the rest of this century. Here’s what stands in its way
By Lorie Konish; CNBC ~ Jun 01, 2019