Monday, April 30, 2018

Best Reads of The Week by Brianna Labuskes

Kaiser Health News

Happy Friday! If you’re like me, you’re hooked on the The Golden State Killer case, where investigators used a genealogy website to hunt down their suspect. (And if you’re also a health wonk like me, you’ll want to check out this story on what privacy concerns the investigators’ strategy sparked.)
On to the rest of the best from the week.

Dr. Ronny Jackson’s alleged misconduct (like how he was called “the candy man” and oversaw a hostile workplace) has dominated the headlines. But behind the theatrics of the failed nomination process lies a crucial but leaderless agency — the Department of Veterans Affairs — that’s caught in the midst of a fierce battle over privatization. There has been a recent legacy of turmoil and scandal at the VA, and veterans’ health care is at stake. “This is complete and total chaos after years of complete and total chaos,” said Paul Rieckhoff, with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
• The Washington Post: ‘What Makes It Stop?’ Veterans Lament the Ongoing Turmoil Surrounding Trump’s Pick for VA Secretary

Do drug companies see rare-disease patients as human jackpots? A deep dive into the money flow for charities that are, in theory, set up to help those patients pay for expensive drugs reveals that pharma may not be donating to the organizations out of the goodness of their hearts. (Go ahead, feign surprise.)
• The Washington Post: Why Drug Companies See Rare-Disease Patients As Human Jackpots
• USA Today: Drug copay groups: Critical patient charities or fronts for drug makers?
Don’t forget our new KHN patient advocacy group database, “Pre$cription for Power,” which tracks the donations of some of the country’s biggest drugmakers to hundreds of patient groups. It was a resource for the USA Today story and is available for all to use.

Short-term plans are back in the news because the comment period for the proposed extension was Monday. Lots of people in the industry spoke out against them for obvious reasons — they know healthy and young consumers are likely to jump ship to these enticingly cheap plans leaving the population buying individual coverage sicker and older, on the whole. Also, they warn, those young and healthy consumers may well find that the plans don’t offer good coverage if they get sick.
• The Washington Post: Trump Proposal Could Mean Healthy People Save on Insurance While Others Get Priced Out

In the new trend of transparency as a fix for high health prices, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services wants to require hospitals to post their prices online in an easily accessible format for patients. But experts say that while the idea sounds good in theory, it’s not actually going to help most consumers because list prices aren’t what people end up paying. And there’s the big question: Does CMS really have the legal authority to make them do this?
• Modern Healthcare: CMS Proposal for Hospitals to Publish Prices Raises Tricky Issues
• Politico Pro: Legal Barriers Await Medicare’s Price Transparency Work

There was a lot of movement in women’s health this week: The administration is favoring abstinence-focused programs with its teen pregnancy prevention funds; a judge has blocked cuts to Planned Parenthood grants; and an executive order banning Title X funding for Planned Parenthood is apparently in the pipeline for next month.
• The New York Times: Trump Administration Pushes Abstinence in Teen Pregnancy Programs
• The Associated Press: Judge Prevents Trump From Cutting Planned Parenthood Grants
• Modern Healthcare: Trump Could Ban Title X Funding for Planned Parenthood

The research on needle exchanges is crystal-clear. They cut deaths, curb spending and reduce disease without increasing drug use. But in the midst of a raging opioid epidemic, public health leaders just can’t quite convince the public that they’re a good idea.
• The New York Times: Why a City at the Center of the Opioid Crisis Gave Up a Tool to Fight It
And a drug distributor absolves itself of responsibility in the opioid crisis — but, uh, it doesn’t really work that way.
• Bloomberg: McKesson’s Board Clears Itself of Fault on Opioid Oversight

In the miscellaneous file: In Oregon, the criminally insane get better mental health services than people who don’t commit a crime; oncologists wonder if the slimmest chance of a therapy working justifies offering the treatment to terminal patients or if it’s better to keep their mouths shut;  and a reporter offers a heartbreaking look at West Virginia’s long history of broken promises over black lung disease.
• Stateline: What Care for the Criminally Insane Can Teach Us About Mental Health Treatment
• The New York Times: ‘Desperation Oncology’: When Patients Are Dying, Some Cancer Doctors Turn to Immunotherapy
• ProPublica: Covering West Virginia’s Long History of Broken Promises

Have a great weekend! And let me know what you think of this doctor who is pushing the idea of “regifting” kidneys as a way to solve the country’s organ shortage.

How A Drug Co. Under Pressure For High Prices Ratchets Up Political Activity

Kaiser Health News
Jay Hancock and Elizabeth Lucas April 30, 2018

Business looked challenging for Novo Nordisk at the end of 2016. As pressure mounted over the pharma giant’s soaring insulin prices, investors drove its stock down by a third on fears that policymakers would take action, limit prices and hurt profits.

Then things got worse. A Massachusetts law firm sued the company and two other pharma firms on behalf of patients, claiming that high insulin prices of hundreds of dollars a month forced diabetics to starve themselves to minimize their blood sugar while skimping on doses. At least five states began investigating insulin makers and their business partners.

As scrutiny rose, Novo Nordisk engaged in what analysts say is a time-honored response to public criticism. It aggressively ratcheted up spending to spread its influence in Washington and to have a louder say in the debates over drug prices.

The drugmaker’s political action committee spent $405,000 on federal campaign donations and other political outlays last year, more than in 2016 — an election year — and nearly double its allocation for 2015, data compiled by Kaiser Health News show.

Continue Reading

Thank You Mr Hancock, Ms Lucas and KHN.

Mr President, End The Collusion, . . . In The Healthcare Industry

American Greatness
By Ned Ryun| April 28th, 2018

About the Author: Ned Ryun Ned Ryun is a former presidential writer for George W. Bush and the founder and CEO of American Majority. You can find him on Twitter @nedryun.

Between December 31, 2008 and April 2018, the S&P 500 saw 177 percent growth. By any measure, a strong performance for that nearly 10 year stretch.

But the S&P 500’s performance pales in comparison to that of Aetna Insurance. The health insurance giant saw its stock value go up by 445 percent in that same time frame. However, Aetna was outshone by Humana, which saw its stock go up 608 percent. Not to be outdone, United Health saw its stock grow by 655 percent. But the real winner in that time frame was Cigna, whose stock value grew by a whopping 866 percent.

To put a fine point on it, insurance companies outperformed the S&P 500 by anywhere from 2.5 times up to five times over nearly a decade.

What a coincidence. Or not, actually.

Insurance companies have been making record profits, as have health providers in the United States, specifically non-profit hospitals (which a majority of our hospitals are) over the last 10 years; the largest 84 hospital systems in the United States generated $535 billion in revenue in 2017 alone. One might actually be forgiven for thinking that ObamaCare has caused massive windfalls for insurance companies and healthcare providers.

Because, in fact, it did.

Americans need to understand that healthcare providers and health insurance companies really have the same goal: to increase prices. Which is perfectly fine if we were discussing a true free market approach to healthcare, which we’re not.

While we’ve heard the term “collusion” bandied about incorrectly for over a year regarding the fairytale of Trump/Russia collusion in the 2016 election, the term actually applies to businesses. The term is defined as “a secret arrangement between two parties whose interest seemingly conflict to commit fraud upon another party.”

We need to realize that health care providers and insurance companies have created a mutually beneficial racket. While on the surface it would appear they’re competing, by the numbers, they’re actually not and have created a very beneficial system for themselves while sticking it to the American people.

They are, in the truest sense of the word, colluding against the American people.

All of this has created a real problem for Republicans. They’ve done nothing while the insurance companies and providers have colluded against the American people to increase costs. They failed miserably to repeal ObamaCare last year, and as the clock keeps ticking on this time bomb of the American people’s anger at rising costs, Democrats are going to offer up their solution: socialized medicine. Single payer has always been a Progressive dream, and thanks to the dithering GOP leadership in Congress, the stage is being set for that very thing to happen.

Yet not all is lost. In fact, in one swift move, President Trump could completely flip the tables on Democrats, insurance companies, and nonprofit hospital systems while also rescuing Republican leadership from their idiocy. How? By going around Congress and using the power of the executive branch.

Trump should inform Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin that the tax regulation regarding nonprofits offering services, should it be hospitals or even higher education, should be compelled to post prices once $20 million in revenue for services is reached.

It should be clear that this reform would only deal with nonprofits that offer services. Entities like the United Way or the Salvation Army would be excluded. And even the nonprofits that offer services would be allowed to keep their non-profit status if they post prices after a certain amount of revenue.

Trump can do this do this because it’s not tax code; it’s a regulation. Congress is not needed. All that needs to be done is to change the wording in regulation 1.501(c)(3)-1(A)(2)(I), (II) & (III) under IRC 501(c)(3) to say this:

An exempt purpose shall not include revenue from services exceeding $20,000,000, unless pricing for those services are readily available to the general public in the same manner as which they appear on an invoice for those services. Pricing shall include the list price, the average discount or grant, median price paid and average price paid. Readily available is defined as availability on public facing websites or on demand phone access.

That simple paragraph would revolutionize healthcare as we know it. It would turn the industry upside down.

By forcing pricing transparency, it would open up the industry to true free market forces: imagine hospitals forced into competitive pricing for procedures. Imagine insurance companies, because the costs are being driven down by competitive forces, not being able to gouge the American people with higher premiums and deductibles.

It’s not that hard to imagine. All Donald Trump has to do is decide he’s done seeing the American people abused by the health industry, he’s done watching GOP leadership dither away their majorities and then strike a bold and decisive move on behalf of everyday Americans.

Thank You Mr Ryan and American Greatness.

'Toons 4/30/18

Report: Obamacare Made Insurance Companies Stock Prices Soar '272' Percent

Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
12:01 PM 03/21/2018

Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion program and subsidies have made major health insurance companies extremely profitable, according to a White House economic report released Wednesday morning.

The White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) report that insurers’ financial health, a measure the group says is reflected in their stock prices, improved markedly after Obamacare took full effect Jan. 1, 2014. The economists find insurers’ stock prices soared 272 percent from January 2014 to 2018, outperforming the S&P 500 by 106 percent over the period.

Insurers took time to adjust to Obamacare rules and regulations. While the legislation passed in 2010, it faced a number of legal and congressional challenges that delayed its full implementation for four years. During that timeframe, insurance providers found it troubling to peg a price point for coverage plans after Obamacare expanded essential health benefits (ESBs) and required providers to follow other stabilization regulations, like Obamacare’s risk corridor program.

Some providers were not able to withstand the new regulations and withdrew from the market. Others weathered the changes, gobbled up smaller health insurers and consolidated to stay competitive. Consolidation wasn’t relegated to insurance providers. Hospital systems, pharmacy benefit managers and physician groups had to consolidate to survive the new Obamacare marketplace.

Insurers that stayed and participated in the exchanges have now found it a profitable enterprise, the report states.

“After narrowing in the initial years of ACA implementation, the gap between individual market premiums and claims payments was much higher in 2017 than pre-ACA,” the White House economists report. “As of 2017, most Blue Cross Blue Shield regional insurers, the main insurers left in the ACA-compliant individual and small group markets, have better profit margins than during the initial years of offering plans in marketplaces and have returned to pre-ACA profitability.”

Wednesday’s findings come in stark contrast to what major insurance providers on the state Obamacare exchanges have said for years. Every year since Obamacare’s full implementation–most recently during the numerous 2017 GOP repeal and replace attempts–major insurance companies, like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna and UnitedHealth, have threatened to drop out, or dropped out, of state exchanges because they fear it will no longer be possible to make a profit.

When they dropped out or threatened to do so, insurance companies main concern was whether or not the federal government would continue to pay out Obamacare subsidies, known as cost-sharing reductions (CSRs).

CSRs remained a critical point of debate for House and Senate lawmakers heading into Wednesday’s expected unveiling of a must-pass spending bill to keep the government funded through Sept. 30. The subsidies are not expected to be in the final version of the spending bill, but Democrats, along with a handful of GOP lawmakers, consider them vital stabilizing the Obamacare marketplace.

The White House report may not help their case in securing CSR funding.

“Insurers remaining in the individual and small group markets seem to have recently accounted for ACA regulations and an older, more costly risk pool than they expected by charging higher premiums that have largely been covered by federal government premium subsidies,” the economists wrote. “Large insurers, many of whom left the individual market, are profiting from the Medicaid expansion, which is largely provided through private managed care and paid for by the federal government.”

The White House says it expects insurance company profits to continue to grow following the GOP tax law.

Insurance companies will submit their 2019 filings for the Obamacare marketplaces in the next few weeks.

Follow Robert Donachie on Twitter and Facebook

Thank You Mr Donachie and the DC.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

An Imminent Counterattack Begins The Fight of Our Lives: A Must Read

American Greatness
D Hawthorne| April 29th, 2018

Unparalleled government abuses of power are about to become public. The question is what we, the people, will do in response to this overt attempt by deep state players to strip us of our freedom.


Unraveling the Deep State Narrative: Third of a Three-Part Series. Read Part One. Read Part Two.

Four recent developments drive home the unsettling nature of our situation:

First, Charles Lipson writes how Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) “is making a deeply troubling allegation: An official investigation was mounted against an American presidential campaign with no official information to support it. If so, then U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies were weaponized for partisan purposes.”

Andrew McCarthy, on the implications for equal justice under the law: “Too many Trump critics have abandoned all pretense of respecting due process.” Byron York adds: “…the generally accepted standard of justice has been turned on its head. Now, the question is: Can the accused prove the charges false? Increasingly, the president’s critics argue that the dossier is legitimate because it has not been proven untrue.”

Second, a redacted version of the House Intelligence Committee’s final report appeared on Friday, clearing Trump’s campaign of colluding with Russia but describing three troubling matters: First, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn did not lie to FBI special agents. Instead, what Michael Walsh calls the Left’s “Star Chamber of Horrors” apparently forced Flynn to accept a guilty plea to stanch his financial bleeding, which included selling his home.

Also, Sean Davis reports Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper “leaked details of a [Steele] dossier briefing given to then-President-elect Donald Trump to CNN’s Jake Tapper, lied to Congress about the leak, and was rewarded with a CNN contract a few months later.” The chronology of Clapper’s and CNN’s behaviors is a damning tale of intentional deep state sabotage of a president. Finally, a group of wealthy individuals has funded $50 million for a new effort by Fusion GPS, Christopher Steele, and a former staffer of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) to continue a Russian investigation.

Think about it. The Clinton campaign funded political opposition research that nobody anywhere has proven to be true, but the same players who generated these unverified tales are going to keep trying for more. Call it what it is: yet another attempt to overturn the 2016 election.

Third, this week also saw the unjustified character assassination of White House physician Admiral Ronny Jackson. The Left’s lies worked again. Neverending “lawfare“ is how the Left will make things too costly for anyone to affiliate with Trump, thereby neutering the president’s ability to govern. No end is in sight there, either. Ask Scott Pruitt.

Fourth, there was Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan’s brazen threat to Trump in response to the president’s tweet, saying “A highly partisan, incomplete, and deeply flawed report by a broken House Committee means nothing. The Special Counsel’s work is being carried out by professional investigators—not political staffers. SC’s findings will be comprehensive & authoritative. Stay tuned, Mr. Trump….” Stunning words, but not new behavior.

These recent developments feed into an even more frightening bigger picture, as Victor Davis Hanson writes: “We are entering revolutionary times. The law is no longer equally applied. The media are the ministry of truth. The Democratic party is a revolutionary force. And it is all getting scary.”

Dennis Prager describes the underlying differences: “We’re in a fight over basic values . . . The Left . . . is opposed to every . . . core principle of liberalism,” adding “If the Left is not defeated, American and Western civilization will not survive. But the Left will not be defeated until good liberals understand this and join the fight. Dear liberals: The Left is [your enemy].”

Daniel Greenfield outlines the battle lines: “[The Left] wants to rule. Political conflicts become civil wars when one side refuses to accept the existing authority. The Left has rejected all forms of authority it doesn’t control . . . their first and foremost allegiance is to an ideology, not the Constitution, not our country or our system of government. All of those are only to be used as vehicles for their ideology. That’s why compromise has become impossible . . . This is a primal conflict between a totalitarian system and a democratic system. Its outcome will determine whether we will be a free nation or a nation of slaves.

So now what?

The Possum Stirs
With some factual basis and no small amount of hope, 2018 will prove to be the year that we discover Attorney General Jeff Sessions played possum and fooled many people. Why would he act that way? With weaponized agencies, few to trust in an often-hostile Justice Department, and most likely only one try possible to take down the well-entrenched deep state rogues who are trying to unseat a president, no missteps can occur. Furthermore, Trump and Sessions have known for months now what everyone is only lately realizing: there is nothing to the Russian collusion charges. So if they knew they were clean, then they could set traps and be patient.

Sessions’ recusal from the Russia probe drove many people on the Right crazy. But the timing was essential. It followed the start of the inspector general’s investigation prior to Trump’s inauguration, and so has given Sessions “plausible deniability” for partisan maneuvering until the first IG report comes out in May. Then Sessions will have the credibility in the months ahead of the November midterm elections to root out the deep state with the same intensity he pursued and destroyed the Alabama KKK. It is even possible that Trump’s repeated public criticisms of Sessions have been meant to further enhance Sessions’ perceived independence.

Sessions won’t be beginning from a standing start when the inspector general’s final email investigation report (the first of several remaining reports) appears next month. He greatly ramped up leak investigations throughout 2017, personnel changes have already occurred, and some remaining staff may be cooperating witnesses. In December, Sessions made three important decisions:
He re-opened an investigation into Obama’s squashing of the DEA’s Hezbollah drug-dealing investigation in order to keep his Iran deal on track.
Ordered a new look into the Clinton Uranium One collusion deal, which has real Russian players and a Mueller connection.
Launched a new inquiry into the Clinton Foundation’s pay-to-play corruption.

The fact patterns behind these various scandals are generally known; it is only a matter of when to pounce.

Sessions recently directed Inspector General Michael Horowitz to expand his investigation into FISA abuses, building on a March 15 Senate request and the January 18 House Intelligence Committee report which cited sources not interviewed by the committee. That suggests prior coordination of efforts and information-sharing.

The inspector general also just began a probe into whether the leak of Comey’s memos disclosed classified information.

We have also learned Sessions appointed two key people:
U.S. Attorney John Huber was appointed some time ago to work closely with Horowitz, operating from his home base of Utah. This appointment creates a potentially powerful tag-team able to move rapidly from the inspector general referrals identifying evidence of bad behaviors to criminal indictments.
U.S. Attorney John Lausch was appointed to work closely with congressional oversight committees on document production, a longstanding problem in prior times and one that can better be addressed as the inspector general’s work is nearing completion. Lausch’s work will help keep Huber focused on his job and allow indictment-related documents to remain secret until legal referrals and indictments actions are prepared.

If you think Trump is a piece of work now, wait until he has public ammunition about an ongoing soft coup attempt against a legitimately elected president. Part of his power comes from reacting at just the right time and making other people look foolish or worse.

An Action Plan for the Fight of our Lives
Wretchard T. Cat tweets: “The fight for the control of Washington, after a ton of preliminaries and battlespace preparation, is now truly underway.”

First, recognize that we are already in a war for America’s future and, so far, we are losing. The Left’s ongoing refusal to accept the results of the 2016 election and live according to the rule of law, along with their willingness to destroy people’s lives, are irreconcilable with a constitutional republic of self-governing people. There can be no negotiated settlement over such fundamental differences. We must boldly reclaim the righteousness of liberty and equal justice under the law on behalf of all Americans.

Second, winning the war will require unprecedented courage. It is highly likely that the deep state is already engaged in blackmail and bribery to neutralize opponents. We should expect such efforts only to increase and those efforts should be called out. Yet, we know that only a small number of Americans—acting like NSA Director Mike Rogers, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, and Inspector General Michael Horowitz—can change the momentum and get the liberty flywheel turning.

Winning will also require more people to adopt Trump’s honey badgermindset, a fearlessness which will be crucial as the fighting becomes more intense.
Third, frame the 2018 election as an existential moment in our country’s history, as a choice between being a free people who rule themselves versus life as subjects ruled by and dependent upon a rogue ruling class. Openly call the latter out for the evil they are doing—a slow-motion coup d’etat. Reclaiming the promise of self-government will be a multi-generation war.

The definition of winning the short-term 2018 battle is to swing election outcomes by holding the 2016 Trump base and persuading at least 7 percent (1 in 14) of the non-Trump 2016 voters (like Alan Dershowitz and even President Clinton’s pollster Mark Penn) who, regardless of specific policy preferences, place a high value on retaining traditional liberal values such as civil liberties and equal justice under the law.

Fourth, let the American people learn the jarring truth by rapidly declassifying every relevant Obama Administration document that highlights abuses of power by Obama, Clinton, Brennan, Clapper, Mueller, Comey, McCabe, Holder, Lynch, Yates, Rice, Power, Jarrett, Podesta, Wasserman-Schultz, and various other Justice Department and FBI personnel. Take the public debate beyond “he said, she said” talk. Promote the inevitable black hat infighting as they increasingly turn on each other once the spotlight is on their wrongdoing.

Fifth, indict and punish every one of the rogues based on those facts. This, with no plea bargains for any higher-level people, is a crucial step toward rebuilding the confidence of the American people that equal justice under the law can be recovered. Then radically restructure the Justice Department, FBI, and intelligence community.

Sixth, after the IG reports come out, pardon those who have been subjected to prosecutorial abuses. Insist Congress impeach Rosenstein—assuming he doesn’t resign first. All of this will neuter Robert Mueller, eliminating the need to fire him.

Seventh, make a clear case to the American people every week of every month, trusting they will recognize the choice before us is a stark one and rise to the occasion. Trust in their desire to see all Americans treated equally under the law and to live as a free people.

Reinhold Niebuhr described what we face: “There are historic situations in which refusal to defend the inheritance of a civilization, however imperfect, against tyranny and aggression may result in consequences even worse than war.”

Victory over this powerful enemy is uncertain. But we learned from our fight with Communism that evil’s Achilles’ heel is hubris and history teaches us they are vulnerable to the weapons of truth and courage. In these dark times, how can we be anything but Americans, and accept the character call to rise to the challenge and be a heroic people?

Image credit: James Montgomery Flagg 

Thank You American Greatness and Very Well Put, Mr Hawthorn.

Trump To Pull Feds Out Of K-12 Education

And there goes the Welfare State. The closer kids education get to their own parents hands the better shot at a real life those kids are going to get.

Washington Times

S.A. Miller - The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to start pulling the federal government out of K-12 education, following through on a campaign promise to return school control to state and local officials.

The order, dubbed the “Education Federalism Executive Order,” will launch a 300-day review of Obama-era regulations and guidance for school districts and directs Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to modify or repeal measures she deems an overreach by the federal government.

“For too long the government has imposed its will on state and local governments. The result has been education that spends more and achieves far, far, far less,” Mr. Trump said. “My administration has been working to reverse this federal power grab and give power back to families, cities [and] states — give power back to localities.”

He said that previous administrations had increasingly forced schools to comply with “whims and dictates” from Washington, but his administration would break the trend.

“We know local communities know it best and do it best,” said Mr. Trump, who was joined by several Republican governors for the signing. “The time has come to empower teachers and parents to make the decisions that help their students achieve success.”

Thank You Mr Miller Wash Times and especially President Trump.

Continue Reading.

Kaiser Health News Launches "Pre$cription For Power" Groundbreaking Database To Expose Big Pharma's Ties To Patient Groups

Kaiser Health News
By Emily Kopp and Sydney Lupkin and Elizabeth Lucas April 6, 2018

KHN staffers Vickie Connor, Julie Appleby, Melissa Bailey, Rachel Bluth, Terry Byrne, Doug Carroll and Brianna Labuskes also contributed.

Pharmaceutical companies gave at least $116 million to patient advocacy groups in a single year, reveals a new database logging 12,000 donations from large publicly traded drugmakers to such organizations.

Even as these patient groups grow in number and political influence, their funding and their relationships to drugmakers are little understood. Unlike payments to doctors and lobbying expenses, companies do not have to report payments to the groups.

The database, called “Pre$cription for Power,” shows that donations to patient advocacy groups tallied for 2015 — the most recent full year in which documents required by the Internal Revenue Service were available — dwarfed the total amount the companies spent on federal lobbying. The 14 companies that contributed $116 million to patient advocacy groups reported only about $63 million in lobbying activities that same year.

Though their primary missions are to focus attention on the needs of patients with a particular disease — such as arthritis, heart disease or various cancers — some groups effectively supplement the work lobbyists perform, providing patients to testify on Capitol Hill and organizing letter-writing and social media campaigns that are beneficial to pharmaceutical companies.

Six drugmakers, the data show, contributed a million dollars or more to individual groups that represent patients who rely on their drugs. The database identifies over 1,200 patient groups. Of those, 594 accepted money from the drugmakers in the database.

Continue Reading

Thank You KHN. 

Migrants From Central American Caravan Caught Scaling The Border Fences

Democrats refer to these people as "Law Abiding Undocumented Immigrants."

Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
2:30 PM 04/29/2018

The caravan of migrants from Central America seeking asylum in the U.S. has arrived at the border, and some people associated with the group have already been caught scaling the border fences.

“Several groups of people associated with the Central American caravan” illegally entered the U.S. “by climbing over the dilapidated scrap metal border fence on either side of the San Ysidro Port of Entry,” Rodney S. Scott, chief of the Border Patrol in the San Diego sector, which sits just north of Tijuana, told reporters Saturday.

He said the migrants included “children as young as 4 years old and in one case a pregnant female.” He called it “unconscionable that anyone would expose a child to these dangerous conditions.”

Five busloads of migrants were escorted Sunday through Tijuana to a cross-border rally near San Diego, where supporters gathered on both sides of the fence, The Associated Press reports. Images from the rally show apparent migrants from the Mexican side sitting atop the border wall proudly waving what appears to be the Honduran flag, the banner of the country from which many of the migrants are trying to flee.

Members of a caravan of migrants from Central America climb up the border fence between Mexico and the U.S., as a part of a demonstration prior to preparations for an asylum request in the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico April 29, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

The Associated Press revealed that more than a dozen people from the Mexican side of the divide scaled the wall, as Border Patrol agents watched carefully nearby. Related video also showed some individuals pushing through the chain link fence.

The Trump administration has determined that the perceived invaders are a threat to American national security. “We need a strong, impenetrable WALL that will end this problem once and for all,” President Donald Trump, who has dispatched the National Guard to the border, reportedly told campaign supporters. The president has repeatedly stressed the need for tougher border security.

Thank You Reuters, Mr Pickrell and the DC.

Sessions Highlights Victims of Drug Abuse In Opioid Plagued Montana

Steve Birr Vice Reporter
4, 28, 2018

Criminal violations related to meth and heroin are skyrocketing across Montana, claiming adult and youth victims alike, due to the national addiction scourge plaguing America.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke in Montana Friday to law enforcement about the continued growth of the opioid epidemic, which killed more than 64,000 Americans in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Department of Justice, according to Sessions, will cut opioid prescriptions by one-third over the next three years to combat the crisis, in addition to cracking down on street dealers and national traffickers, reported KTVH.

Sessions also highlighted the many victims of drug addiction in Montana, including the youngest and most vulnerable members of society. He mentioned the story of 13-month-old Kenzley Olson, who was beaten to death by a woman on meth in 2016.

“That includes Natalie Dietrich, a student at Montana State, who was given a synthetic opioid at a concert in Bozeman,” Sessions said Friday, according to KTVH. “She was an economics student, she had a promising life ahead of her. But now that’s a future we will never see.”

Opioid overdose made up a staggering 66 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2016, surpassing the annual number of lives lost to breast cancer. Deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl, a painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, experienced a particularly dramatic increase, more than doubling from 9,580 lives in 2015 to 19,413 lives in 2016.

“There can be no doubt, really, that this is the deadliest drug crisis in our nation’s history,” said Sessions, according to KTVH. “We had a lot of drugs in the 70s and 80s but nothing like the death dealing drugs we have today. Meth violations in this state rose by more than 400 percent between 2010 and 2015. Meanwhile, heroin violations increased 1,500 percent.”

The epidemic is contributing to declining life expectancy in the U.S., according to officials with the CDC. Life expectancy dropped for the second consecutive year in 2016 for the first time since an outbreak of influenza in 1962 and 1963.

Addiction experts fear the death toll is likely higher than the official statistics shows, pointing to research suggesting federal data may be undercounting opioid deaths by as much as 20 percent.

Nationally, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50.

Thank You Mr Birr and the DC.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

'Toons 4/29/2018

Sessions Announces Indictments Tied To Massive Chinese Fentanyl Network

Steve BirrVice Reporter
2:16 PM 04/28/2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced indictments Friday related to an international fentanyl network operated by fugitive Chinese nationals.

Speaking in Fargo, North Dakota, Sessions revealed charges against ten defendants for their role in trafficking synthetic opioids linked to several overdose deaths in the U.S. The charges stem from a joint law enforcement investigation dubbed “Operation Denial,” which began following the overdose death of an 18-year-old man in Grand Forks, North Dakota, reported KVRR.

Three of the 10 defendants are in custody in the U.S., however, the rest remain fugitives. The group faces charges of drug distribution and importation resulting in death, and money laundering.

“They and their co–conspirators allegedly shipped fentanyl and fentanyl analogues from China through the mail and it killed people, killed people, in North Carolina, New Jersey, Oregon, and Grand Forks,” Sessions said at a press conference addressing law enforcement Friday. “They used the internet, about 30 different aliases, cryptocurrencies, offshore accounts. Each one of you played critical roles in the formation from virtually the beginning of the investigation which has become an international success story.”

The announcement from Sessions came after the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Jian Zhang, owner of a chemical company based in China, and four financial associates from China who worked directly for Zhang.

The five Chinese nationals allegedly used Zhang’s company, Zaron Bio-Tech, to import large amounts of fentanyl and even more powerful synthetic analogs of fentanyl.

Authorities previously unsealed an indictment of Zhang on Oct. 17 in the District of North Dakota, which charged him with engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, drug distribution and importation resulting in death, and money laundering. Zhang and his associates are accused of importing and distributing hundreds of bags of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid roughly 30 to 50 times more powerful than pure heroin, which resulted in the deaths of at least four Americans and serious injury of five others.

The announcement from the Treasury Department names Na Chu, Yeyou Chu, Cuiying Liu, and Keping Zhang as co-conspirators in the drug ring. The sanctions effectively freeze any financial assets these individuals hold in the U.S.

Large quantities of narcotics continue to infiltrate the U.S. due to the relentless efforts of traffickers. However, the Department of Justice under Sessions is gaining ground against drug movers taking advantage of America’s opioid scourge. Federal officials recently scored a major victory against narcotics traffickers during an investigation of a distribution network in West Virginia, confiscating enough fentanyl to kill a quarter million Americans.

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016.

Thank You AG Sessions, Mr Birr and the DC.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Video: 3 New Airstrikes Against Taliban: DoD Footage

Vampire Hillary: How She's Sucking The Cash Strapped DNC Dry

She's worth more to Republicans being left on the street than she would be if AG Sessions indicted and prosecuted her.

Grand Master Grifter.

Posted: Apr 26, 2018 2:35 PM
Even in defeat, you have to pay the Clintons. The former first lady and two-time presidential loser is forcing the cash-strapped Democratic National Committee to dole out nearly $2 million for access to their email list through Onward Together, according to The Intercept. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has paid $700,000 to use the same data. It showcases that while Democratic voter enthusiasm is high, the party apparatus is in a terrible state of disrepair. The army of small-donors has collapsed, new donor attraction is lackluster, debts are in the millions of dollars, with the DNC taking out a loan totaling almost $2 million just to keep the lights on. And while the Obama campaign gifted their data, the publication added that Democrats aren’t viewing this as a favor at all since he turned his Organizing for Action group into a direct DNC competitor, further hamstringing the national committee (via The Intercept):
Heading into the 2018 midterms, with Democrats hoping to take back the House of Representatives and even make a run at the Senate, the party has spent more than $2 million worth of campaign resources on payments to Hillary Clinton’s new group, Onward Together, according to Federal Election Commission filings and interviews with people familiar with the payments.
The Democratic National Committee is paying $1.65 million for access to the email list, voter data, and software produced by Hillary for America during the 2016 presidential campaign, Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokesperson for the DNC, told The Intercept. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has paid more than $700,000 to rent the same email list. 
Clinton is legally entitled to rent her list to the party, rather than hand it over as a gift, but in 2015, Barack Obama gave his email list, valued at $1,942,640, to the DNC as an in-kind contribution. In 2013 and 2014, OFA had similarly made in-kind contributions exceeding $3.4 million for uses of the list that cycle.
Obama’s list was at one point considered to be the most valuable in politics and raised more than twice as much money for the 2012 Obama campaign as Clinton’s did for hers in 2016. The DNC agreement with the Clinton campaign calls on the debt-ridden organization to fork the money over to an entity of Clinton’s choosing, which wound up being Onward Together, the operation she formed after her campaign ceased to exist.
Despite Obama’s willingness to gift the DNC with his email list, he is not seen as a savior within the building. After he was elected in 2008, he turned his campaign organization, Organizing for Action, into a parallel DNC, starving the real one of funds. During that time, if a party committee such as the DCCC wanted access to OFA, it had to rent it. When he finally turned the OFA list over to the DNC in 2015, it had been battered like a rental car, and the organization was a shell of itself, mismanaged and neglected to the brink of insolvency. It was in that context that the party committee struck up its secret deal with the Clinton campaign to salvage itself — setting off the charges of favoritism in the 2016 campaign that continue to dog the party today.
We’ll see if this has any impact on the party’s long-term goals, especially their long walk out of the wilderness at the state-level, which will take significant resources. Hillary Clinton promised to rebuild the state parties should she win the 2016 election. The virtual wipeout of Democrats at the state and local level occurred under Obama’s watch and the former president did little to stem the tide. Since 2009 until the end of his presidency, the Democrats lost 1,000 seats. They got walloped.

Now, both Clinton and Obama, the titans of the party, are hamstringing it from becoming financially solvent. Obama for creating a de facto separate committee and Hillary saying, “pay me” for her data lists. So, while the Republicans have their issues (recruiting crappy candidates, gaffes, etc.) the Democratic problems seem to be much more systemic, complicated further by a vampire-like Clintonite element bleeding the virtually bankrupt DNC dry.   
Oh, and she's going to be fundraising for the Democrats ahead of the 2018 midterms with a dismal 27 percent approval rating. 

Democrats want the media and the GOP to stop talking about Hillary and the 2016 election. Maybe that'll stop when they finally get rid of her, but they can't; they don't have any heavyweights on their bench to headline major money haul events. So, pick your poison. 


Thank You Mr Vespa and Townhall.
And you too Hills.