Michigan’s Bold New Solution to High Drug Prices

There’s a new bill in Michigan that would allow the state to cap the prices of wildly overpriced prescription drugs. It could be a model for states nationwide to bring down drug prices and challenge the power of the pharmaceutical industry.

What’s happening?

According to a recent poll, nearly 60% of Michiganders over the age of 50 report having not filled a prescription due to an outrageous price tag.

Nobody is immune to the soaring cost of drugs — not when the average price of a newly launched pharmaceutical is $257,000.

But there’s an emerging effort to rein in pharmaceutical companies’ greed. In Michigan State Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet is leading the charge.

Senator McDonald-Rivet is the sponsor of Senate Bill 485, legislation that would create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board in Michigan. The board would be empowered to set price limits when Big Pharma gets out of hand.

Michigan would be the sixth state to enact a board with the power to set upper payment limits for drugs determined to be unaffordable. Colorado and Maryland’s boards are getting closer to setting payment limits for the first time. The more states that launch their own boards, the more effective they’ll be.

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Why U.S. Hospitals Are Closing At An Alarming Rate

“With a stroke of pen, he could keep ’em open — but he refuses.”

Video produced and hosted by Katie Fernelius

There’s a rural hospital crisis in America.

30% of rural hospitals across the U.S. are in danger of closing — putting thousands of Americans farther and farther from life-saving medical care.

Mississippi is a perfect example of this: almost half of its rural hospitals are at risk of closing, and every closure puts more lives at risk.

We went to the Magnolia State to find out what’s happening, who’s responsible, and how low-cost solutions could stop these lethal closures.

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We Went to the Most Unequal Place in America

Video produced and hosted by Natasha Del Toro

43% of people in Puerto Rico live in poverty.

More than 5,000 crypto traders, real estate developers and other wealthy Americans have moved to the island since 2012.

These rich transplants pay 3% taxes, while locals pay up to 36%.

We spoke with local residents, investigative journalists and activists as well as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to answer one question:

What happens when a government surrenders itself entirely to the 1%?

The post We Went to the Most Unequal Place in America appeared first on More Perfect Union.

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Big Pharma’s 20-Year War On America

Big Pharma turned the U.S. into the world’s most lucrative market by rigging the system. For 20 years they denied our government the ability to negotiate drug costs.

Then Congress gave Medicare the power to negotiate medicine prices.

So Pharma is launching a legal war.

How did we get here?

In 2003, drug prices were rising and Medicare didn’t really cover prescription drugs. Some lawmakers were pushing to change that, but the bill was stalled in the House.

Republicans believed that the bill would be too costly. Democrats said the whole thing was an industry handout.

So, to break the gridlock, the pharmaceutical industry started throwing around a bunch of money.

A Republican congressman inserted language into the bill barring Medicare from negotiating prices, despite the fact that the bill would make Medicare the largest purchaser of drugs in the world.

Then the Bush administration stepped with a foolproof strategy to convince hold-outs in Congress: just lie.

The head of Medicare told his staff that if they told the truth about the cost, they would be fired.

The plan became law, and dozens of elected officials and staff went on to work for the pharmaceutical industry.

How it works today

Now, Medicare is spending more and more on prescription drugs each year.

Peter Maburduck, head of the Access to Medicines Program at Public Citizen, points to Medicare’s inability to negotiate drug prices as the cause.

“People in the United States are paying more than all people in all other countries of the world put together,” Maburduck told us. “And it’s because we don’t negotiate price.”

That’s finally starting to change.

Last year, through the Inflation Reduction Act, the Democrats finally gave Medicare the ability to negotiate the prices of ten drugs. Those ten drugs make up around 20 percent of the program’s total cost.

By the end of the decade, the law will expand to 60 drugs.

The industry reaction

Unsurprisingly, the pharmaceutical industry has launched a legal war to keep drug prices high.

There are now almost ten lawsuits from drug companies and lobbyists aimed to block Medicare’s new negotiation powers.

Most legal experts say that the lawsuits are a stretch—but there is a real concern that the lawsuits might work.

What the industry is looking for is a circuit split, when two or more judges rule differently on the same issue, making it much more likely for the Supreme Court to hear the case and resolve the issue.

It’s hard to speculate how this will turn out. This is a fight that has been going on for decades. The pharmaceutical industry wins most of the time, but the Democrats delivered a rare victory. And now it might be in jeopardy. 

“It’s important to understand that the industry has more than two lobbyists for every member of Congress,” Maburduck said. “So it’s important collectively that we fight back and turn that aggressiveness back against pharma and say, ‘actually, you know what? The American people think negotiating is very reasonable and fair pricing is essential.’”

The post Big Pharma’s 20-Year War On America appeared first on More Perfect Union.

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Whistleblower Exposes Health Insurers’ Most Evil Scheme

It comes back to three words. Delay. Deny. Defend.

A health insurance whistleblower is exposing their most appalling practice.

It’s called prior authorization — when you need your insurer’s permission to get medical care — and it’s a major part of health insurers’ scheme to rake in profits by denying and delaying patients care.

80 percent of doctors report that patients have abandoned their treatments because of the prior authorization process. Nineteen percent say it has led to life-threatening events or required an intervention to prevent permanent impairment or damage.

But there’s hope for change. Doctors are leading a movement to reform the prior authorization practice and put patients, not profits, first.

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What Disney Doesn’t Want You to Know About Visual Effects

Every TV show or movie you watch has been enhanced with visual effects. But VFX workers behind it face to rampant abuse and turnover.

When George Lucas first created Star Wars, he used non-union workers to make the visual effects-heavy film quickly.

But decades later, visual effects (VFX) workers are still non-union, leading to rampant abuse and turnover across the industry.

VFX workers are often some of the only workers on set without union protections. That’s finally about to change.

VFX workers at Disney and Marvel just voted to unionize with the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE), becoming the first in the U.S. to do so in the industry’s history.

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Inside the Exploitation at Vegas’s MGM and Caesar’s Palace

“If you get hurt because of the heavy work load, they want to discipline you.”

A major strike could rock the Las Vegas strip. 40,000 workers at the MGM Grand, Caesar’s Palace, and other iconic Vegas hotels and casinos are preparing to walk out.

We spoke to workers to understand why they’re on the verge of a strike.

They told us about

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How Four Companies Took Over Our Food Supply

We dug into the corporate scheme to own your food — all the way down to its DNA.

Did you know you can patent a living thing? Decades of lobbying made that possible. Now just four companies control the intellectual property behind nearly ALL of our food supply. We call them the “Life Cartel” and we broke down their plot to privatize everything.

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How Internet Companies like Verizon And Comcast Abandoned Rural America

One in five people in rural America lack access to reliable internet.

They’ve been abandoned by big telecommunications companies like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T who don’t see them as a worthwhile investment.

For years, these companies have taken billions of dollars in government subsidies meant to expand internet access—with little to show for it.

That could be changing. The Biden administration has authorized the biggest public investment into broadband in U.S. history.

The Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program puts $42 billion towards expanding high-speed internet access and broadband infrastructure.

It could make a huge difference in rural America. The money could help fund publicly owned municipal broadband utilities — who may be the key to making internet affordable, reliable, and accessible to all.

But now Comcast, Verizon, and other big telecom companies are fighting to get their hands on the money.

America needs them to lose, and public-ownership to win.

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What Nestle and Abbott Don’t Want You to Know

Black union workers are under siege in Memphis.

For decades, workers who make protein for Nestle made a fair living. After a $26 billion takeover, a new owner wants to take away lunch breaks and destroy the union.

Workers won’t back down. They’ve been striking for 4 months.

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Trump Could Lose These Voters. Here’s Why.

“If he’s against the worker, I’m against him.”

We visited Trump’s “rally for autoworkers” in Detroit to talk with workers about the presidential race and working class power. The only autoworker we could find invited us to his home and told us Trump risks losing his support: “If he’s against the worker, I’m against him.”

Hosted by John Russell. Co-produced by Nehemiah Stark.

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Chicago’s Radical Solution For Broken Tipping Culture

We dug into how American tipping culture got so broken, and the fight to fix it.

It turns out that your tips are subsidizing the payrolls of multi-billion dollar chains, while they pay their workers under minimum wage.

It’s a system rooted in slavery, and pushed by a wealthy restaurant owners onto the rest of us.

But there’s a growing movement to change it.

Take Chicago, for example. The city just voted to eliminate the subminimum wage for restaurant workers.

Currently, tipped workers like servers are paid $9.48 an hour plus tips. The new law will raise that to the full minimum wage of $15.80.

The compromise approved by the Committee on Workforce Development calls for tipped workers — now paid $9.48 an hour — to receive 8% annual increases beginning July 1, until reaching 100% parity with the regular hourly minimum wage on July 1, 2028.

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