WASHINGTON (July 11, 2019) – Mark Blum, executive director of America’s Agenda, a non-profit health care coalition focused on assuring that every American has affordable access to high-quality health care, issued the following statement:


“The Trump Administration’s proposed rule to improve the rebate system in Medicare Part D would have been a first step in the right direction of making prescription medicines more affordable for working Americans. The Administration’s withdrawal of its proposed rule transfers the responsibility for leadership in addressing the role of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in driving prescription drug cost growth squarely onto state governments. State government leaders will need to accept that responsibility to reduce the strain on fiscal budgets and help their citizens better afford prescription medicines they need.


“Our opaque prescription drug pricing system passes the buck to working Americans who can least afford it. We need bold solutions that produce meaningful cost savings now. Fortunately, this is possible, and there are effective approaches that some states have already embraced. One example is the $1.6 billion in savings that the State of New Jersey achieved as a result of a competitive, technology-driven auction process for contracting with PBMs.


“If they have the political will, states have the tools, technologies, and know-how to return the value to patients and working families that PBMs are currently diverting into their own profits.


“For any governor or state policymaker looking to hold PBMs accountable, now is the time to lead. The window is open for states to step up, embrace a truly unique opportunity to save money for taxpayers, and put the interests of their citizens first.”

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America's Agenda is a national health care alliance that brings together labor unions, businesses, health care providers, and government leaders who share a common commitment to our mission of winning guaranteed access to affordable, high quality health care for every American.


Contact:

Emma Hurley Palmer

(805) 559-0122

emma@contextdc.com

State Legislators Direct the Prescription Drug Affordability Board to Study PBM “Reverse Auction” Recommended by America’s Agenda Chief Economist Mike Kapsa


ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 13, 2019) -- Over the course of this March and April, Maryland lawmakers crafted a bill intended to reign in the  states’s prescription drug spending.  In early April,  Center Maryland, a popular State political website, published a blog post by America’s Agenda Chief Economist Dr. Mike Kapsa titled “To Address Drug Costs, Annapolis Should Look North to Trenton.”  In it, Dr. Kapsa urged Maryland lawmakers to look to the example of New Jersey, the only state in America to actually achieve a major reduction of its pharmaceutical costs.  Maryland lawmakers took notice.


At the time Dr. Kapsa’s blog post was published, Maryland lawmakers were focusing their effort to control drug costs primarily on the idea of capping prescription medicine list prices.   By contrast, Dr. Kapsa, pointed out that New Jersey had created a competitive PBM marketplace or “reverse auction,” where “real price competition between PBMs effectively broke up the PBM cartel (something the Affordability Board in Maryland isn’t looking at.)”  He observed that, by forcing PBMs to bid against one another for the State's business over multiple bidding rounds in an eBay-like, online, reverse auction, New Jersey reaped “a fat $1.6 billion [or 18.5%] in savings for teachers and government workers, alone, without cutting their prescription drug benefits, at all.”


His message caught the attention of legislators – and many other Marylanders, too.  By the end of April, when the revised House Bill 768 was finally enacted into law, it directed its Prescription Drug Affordability Board to study “Using a reverse auction marketplace,”  alongside list price caps and bulk purchasing, as alternative strategies for lowering the cost of prescription drugs. 


The PBM reverse auction strategy was backed initially by New Jersey unions. Their leadership changed fundamentally the drug pricing game in their state, capturing unprecedented  prescription drug savings for New Jersey public workers and taxpayers.  Their example now stands to benefit Maryland workers and taxpayers, as well.


Check out Dr. Kapsa’s blog post.


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Contact:

Emma Hurley Palmer

emma@contextdc.com

(805) 559-0122

Updated: May 14, 2019



Shift Shapers Podcast Features Interviews with America’s Agenda Leaders


Episodes Highlight Ways Labor is Leading the Way in Cost-Saving Transformation of American Health Care

WASHINGTON (March 12, 2019) – Shift Shapers, a highly acclaimed weekly podcast that showcases transformative shifts in the insurance and employee benefits industry, featured interviews with two America’s Agenda leaders: Executive Director Mark Blum and Board of Directors Member and UFCW International Vice President Jacques Loveall.


Entitled “What if Employees Owned their Employer-Based Plans,” the podcast episode featuring Blum covered the origins and mission of America’s Agenda and the ways the organization has aligned employer and union interests to deliver innovative, high-value healthcare. Blum explained how, with the help of America’s Agenda, public worker unions spearheaded New Jersey’s adoption of a new strategy for prescription drug purchasing that saved the State, its public employees, and taxpayers $1.6 billion. In an example of a revolutionary strategy for providing personalized, high-quality healthcare at low cost to employers and working families, Blum discussed the success of next-generation SolidaritUS Health, a union-owned direct primary care provider.


To listen to the Shift Shapers interview with Mark Blum click here.


Shift Shapers host, David Saltzman, interviewed Loveall in a subsequent episode titled “Taft-Hartley Plans May Be the Leading Edge of Change.” Loveall clarified how Taft-Hartley plans differ from commercial insurance plans.  He discussed ways his own UFCW and Employers Trust in Northern California is responding to high costs driven, in part, by hospital system-imposed restraints on competition. Speaking about Taft-Hartley trusts, more broadly, Loveall detailed the creation of the Strategic Health Care Fund that enables the trusts to become not only customers, but also owners of the healthcare providers practices where union families seek care. He provided as an example, SolidaritUS Health, the successful, union-owned, direct primary care provider that was launched with a “beta test” investment from the Strategic Health Care Fund. Additional examples discussed during the episode include the New York Hotel Trades Council multi-specialty health centers in each of New York City’s five boroughs and the UNITE HERE! Culinary Workers’ primary care center in Las Vegas. 


To listen to the Shift Shapers interview with Jacques Loveall click here.


About America’s Agenda

America's Agenda is a national health care alliance that brings together labor unions, businesses, health care providers, and government leaders who share a common commitment to our mission of winning guaranteed access to affordable, high quality health care for every American. For more information visitwww.americasagenda.org.  


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Contact:

Emma Hurley Palmer

emma@contextdc.com

(805) 559-0122

News and Updates

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