Posted by: Audrey Erbes | February 12, 2017

Assault on Obamacare, FDA Protections and Medicare Move Ahead

Assault on Obamacare, FDA Protections and Medicare Move Ahead

The future impact of the Trump administration on healthcare services and sales of life science industry products is still unknown but all stakeholders—insurance companies, physicians, hospitals, patients, drug and medical device companies are concerned. The successful approval of Tom Price yesterday by the Senate for Secretary of Health and Human Services adds another potential unsettling player to the mix. His previous role in House was clear cut. He was against Obamacare and had shown negative attitudes toward affordable health care services and women’s health care, specifically. His direction has been to save money by cutting expenditures for entitlement programs and shifting greater cost to the patient without concern that many Americans cannot afford the cost of system he envisions. The conservative Republican objective is probably at bottom of his thinking once again which is to free up money to provide more tax benefits to industry and wealthy.

The Republican approach to healthcare has underestimated the (1) popularity of Obamacare with the majority of Americans and the (2) latters’ fear of repealing ACA without replacing it with comparable or improved care and their (3) absolute disdain for plans to make Medicare a voucher program and/or increase age of eligibility. The Democratic approach was to make the US market-based health care system more cost efficient while it delivered better care to all Americans. They always preferred moving more toward Single Payer system which would cut costs by removing fat from corporate profits. The mandatory enrollment of all citizens provided a better distribution of the healthy and unhealthy, young and old that made a better health care system where all were sharing costs. It wasn’t perfect but was moving in right direction. No one had noticed that the ACA has portions that affect all citizens not just those with lower incomes and help with paying costs, not just the lower income ones. See “You might think the ferocious debate over repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act doesn’t affect you because you get your health insurance through work. Or you’re 65 and on Medicare.But on both counts, you’re dead wrong.” See article at

The turmoil at the beginning of Trump’s term has stirred up tempers and activism to level never seen before. Peaceful protests are a surprise to Trump and Bannon who prefer violent disagreements like that which occurred at UC Berkeley recently to which their response of sending in Federal troops is more fitting response for their thinking. Trump is a bully and loved to physically fight as he grew up. This behavior resulted in his being sent to military school as child. We saw this pugilistic side during the campaign when he encouraged supporters to beat up those in disagreement. He doesn’t know how to settle differences lawfully as demonstrated with his recent travel ban being overturned. He insists he will win out because that is what he wants and doesn’t care what is best for country. We knew his temperament was not fit to govern but bringing in equally unfit advisors is not helping matters.

It’s hard to predict how the Republican-controlled Congress will proceed. Will they continue to give Trump whatever he wants in order to maintain their political power, even if his acts are against the democratic values of our society? Some “adults” in their midst worry that they will become owners of a healthcare system in disaster—to be newly named “Trumpcare”—which will negatively affect their reelectability. Caving into international corporations as demonstrated in recent meeting between Trump and heads of large pharma companies to make deals to enrich them at cost of taxpayers doesn’t bode well for promises he made on campaign trail. He totally walked away from promises to achieve reduced drug pricing. We understand that Republicans are pushing for Right to Try laws which will remove protection from toxic drugs as well as preparing laws to change Medicare. We need to be ready to push back.

But we need to maintain hope that these times will pass. We have learned in the past two weeks that our actions are making a difference. Resistance to irrational decisions when done with overwhelming numbers seems to be basis for hope. We need to have patience but must be persistent in moving ahead.

Here are just a few signs of persistence supporting hope pointed out by Debra Ness of National Partnerships for Women and Families :

  • “Women and men around the world marched in solidarity — the largest Inauguration weekend protest in history — and continue to protest after each and every injustice;
  • More phone calls were made to the U.S. Capitol switchboard in recent days than at any other time in U.S. history — by nearly double;
  • Efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have been chilled and delayed by public outrage, and opponents are in disarray;
  • The Trump administration has already reversed course on several ill-advised actions due to waves of activist opposition; and
  • The media are calling “alternative facts” what they are … lies “

We need to keep abreast of actions of agencies and representatives in order to resist their bad actions.

Overview of Bay Area Life Science Meetings Week of Feb. 12

  • Bio2Device Group and EPPIcon, Tuesday Evening, Feb. 14, 2017; Topic: “Immuno-oncology 2017 – The crux of the matter, the thrill of the chase,” Speaker: Alex Franzusoff, PhD, Senior Vice President, Research and Product Development, PACT Pharma, Inc
  • Codex, Wednesday Mid Day, Feb. 15, 2017; Topic: “Human Decisions and Machine Predictions;” Speaker: Prof. Jens Ludwig, Director, University of Chicago Crime Lab
  • HBA, Webinar, Wednesday Evening, Feb. 15, 2017; Event:”Webinar: Career Advice For Scientists and Other Smart Women;” Featured speakers: Linda Brock, Scientist, virology and immunology; Laura Rush,Executive director, clinical and translational research unit, Ohio University; Jennifer Cook, Head of pharma, Europe region; 2016 HBA Woman of the Year, Roche; Michele Holcomb, COO and senior vice president, portfolio, search and partnerships – global research and development, Teva Pharmaceuticals; Suzanne Schwartz, CDRH associate director for science and strategic partnerships, FDA
  • WIB-San Francisco Bay Area, Thursday Evening, Feb. 16, 2017, Topic: “Speed Networking at BD Biosciences”

You can download the details for the upcoming events this week and those through April 2017 with audreys-picks-feb-12-2017.



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