Posted by: Audrey Erbes | February 19, 2017

Congress  Expected Act on Healthcare Policy Changes Soon

Understanding Republican Ideas on Healthcare Programs

Tom Price has been approved as head of Health and Human Services so we can expect that agency’s activities affecting life science and healthcare soon. Paul Ryan has already talked about movements against Obamacare coming this next week. We know Tom Price has larger plans beyond Obamacare replacement including changing Medicare from current status to one with vouchers. Remember the Republican background strategy is to wring out large sums of money from entitlement programs to fund their other initiatives. McConnell just spoke about liking Trump’s position on cutting taxes—that’s code for we are using his popularity to provide major tax cuts to higher income Americans and corporations. Company taxes are to be cut from 35% to 20% while Trump wants a lower number of 15%.

Be alert to the use of propaganda to push their party’s money-saving ideas with entitlement programs taking the brunt of the reductions.  Paul Ryan spoke about Republicans not wanting “government-run” healthcare but rather “patient-centered healthcare” while others refer to government-run program as socialism. “Patient-centered healthcare that gets everybody access to affordable healthcare coverage, so that they can buy whatever they want to buy,” Speaker Ryan tells Interviewer on recent 60 Minutes show. (

“Patient-centered” doesn’t mean better health care focused on patient needs but is code for there will be more of the costs passed on to the patient. Earlier attacks on a single-payer healthcare system used the American Medical Association members opposition to potentially losing their status as businessmen running single-doctor practice or multiple-doctor practice. This business model for doctors is now becoming history as more doctors today work for profit-making health care provider corporations including hospitals called “providers.”  The big profit now goes to these providers.  The majority of physicians are now employees. “The American Medical Association reported in its 2012 Practice Benchmark Survey that a slight majority (53 percent) of physicians owned their practices, down from 61 percent in 2007/2008; 42 percent of physicians were employees, and 5 percent were independent contractors.1 ….More recent data from the September 2014 Survey of America’s Physicians: Practice Patterns and Perspectives, conducted by Merritt Hawkins for The Physicians Foundation, indicate that only 35 percent of all physicians identify as independent.2 Among family medicine physicians, the rate drops to 31 percent. “

There is great variety across states with the bottom ten states ranging from 7 to 24 percent independent MDs.Source: The Physician Employment Trend,at

Obamacare was making large strides toward lowering the tax payer cost of healthcare while expanding services not lowering them as the Price plan will do.

Single-payer health care isn’t new in California. Senator Sheila Kuehl’s single-payer bills that passed the Legislature in 2006 and 2008 were vetoed by then Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The San Jose Mercury News front page story on Feb. 18, 2017 entitled “Is State Ready to Go It Alone? highlights efforts to establish a single-payer plan in California to cover 38 million Californians, including undocumented residents.  State Senators Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego coauthored Healthy California Act 562 a new government health care system. The major obstacle to achieving is this whether or not California will still receive the $22 billion in federal funding provided to cover private insurance subsidies.

Suggestions for Action for this Week

1) Head to to find a town hall in your area. At

2) Use Resistance Recess to find a town hall or rally near you, along with talking points specific to fighting for health care while representatives are home on recess. At

3) If you can’t attend a meeting or make a personal visit, give your representative a call. At

 What to Ask For

1) Demand that your representatives protect Medicaid. Republicans have long been advocating to turn Medicaid into a block-grant program. Block-granting is an old idea that was already used to gut welfare and would almost certainly mean major cuts. You can read more about the tactic in a 2014 article from The Nation by Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert. At

2) Fight for a real alternative to the Affordable Care Act: Medicare For All. Representative John Conyers recently introduced HR 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, a bill that would implement a single-payer “Medicare For All” system. Tell members of the House of Representatives to co-sponsor the bill and to advocate for it publicly and loudly. For more ways to get involved, check out Medicare4All or sign up for the Campaign for Guaranteed Healthcare

3) Defend the gains of the Affordable Care Act. While nowhere near perfect, the ACA has made coverage possible for more than 20 million people and cut the uninsured rate by nearly half. Tell your representatives that we can NOT go backwards. Resistance Recess provides talking points for defending the program.

Highlights of Upcoming Bay Area Bioscience Events

  • JLABS, Tuesday Morning, Feb. 21, 2017; Topic: “The Basics of Managing the Board;” Speaker: Carol Sands | Founder and Managing Member, The Angels’ Forum
  • Bio2Device Group Morning meeting, Feb. 21, 2017 Cancelled.
  • QB3, Tuesday Afternoons, Feb. 21, 28, March 7 & 14, 2017, Program: “QB3’s Berkeley SBIR workshop: The Art, Science, and Politics of Writing a Successful SBIR Proposal,” Instructor: Gabrielle G. Leblanc, Ph.D.
  • ASQ Biomedical Division NCDG, Wednesday Evening, Feb. 22, 2017, Topic: “CER: Controlled Environment Rooms – Validating & Operating for Medical Devices,” Speaker: Featured Speaker: Thomas Lypka;Moderator: Gary Seeger
  • BioScience Forum, Wednesday Evening, Feb. 22, 2017, Topic: “Next Generation Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) Technology and Oncology Drug Development: New Insights into Clonal Heterogeneity, Genomic Instability and Drug Responsiveness,” Speaker: Murali Krishna Prahalad, Ph.D., President & CEO,Epic Sciences, Inc
  • HBA Supper Club, Thursday Evening, Feb. 23, 2017
  • JLABS, Thursday Morning, Feb. 23, 2017; Event: Meet with… Mountain Group Partners and TriStar Health Partners; Speakers: Brian Laden, Co-founder & Managing Director, TriStar Health Partners;Joe Cook, III, Principal Partner, Mountain Group Partners
  • HBA Saturday Morning, Feb. 25, 2017, Event: “Meaningful Work: Finding Significance In Your Career with Cindy Miller PhD;” Featured speaker: Cindy Miller, Coach and organization development consultant, Cindy Miller Associates

You can download the details for the upcoming events this week and those through April 2017 with audreys-picks-feb-19-2017.



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