Capitol Perspectives

The Capitol Perspectives column is written by John McManus, president and founder of The McManus Group, a consulting firm specializing in strategic policy and political counsel and advocacy for healthcare clients with issues before Congress and the administration. Prior to founding his firm, McManus served Chairman Bill Thomas as the staff director of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, where he led the policy development, negotiations, and drafting of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003. Before working for Chairman Thomas, McManus worked for Eli Lilly & Company as a senior associate and for the Maryland House of Delegates as a research analyst.
  • Rollout Begins Of Trump’s Drug Blueprint

    The Trump administration disrupted the typically sleepy August recess with a frenetic release of proposals that implement components of its “Blueprint” on drug pricing. Physician and patient advocates expressed concern that these proposals may result in impaired patient access to needed drug therapy.

  • Democrats And Trump Focus On Pharmaceutical Pricing

    As the midterm elections approach, with the trajectory pointing toward increasing likelihood of the Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives and with each Trump tweet on drug pricing, a feeling of foreboding has settled over the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Reviving The Antibiotic Sector

    A few weeks ago, Novartis became the latest Big Pharma company to depart the antibacterial field, joining Allergan and The Medicines Company, both of which — even though they manufacture the leading critical-need products — have soured on the lousy returns related to this therapeutic area.

  • Medicare Advantage: The Solution To Value-Based Care

    As Congress grapples with complex ways to provide greater care coordination for seniors with multiple chronic conditions and value-based reimbursement schemes for prescription drugs, an obvious solution is being fundamentally ignored: greater enrollment in Medicare Advantage (MA).

  • Trump Unveils Drug Reforms: Rebates To PBMs At Risk

    After months of delay and suspense, in a Rose Garden ceremony, President Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced a comprehensive approach to prescription drugs, which they claimed would address major challenges.

  • Congress Tackles The Opioid Crisis

    After passing a gargantuan appropriations bill that balloons the deficit by hundreds of billions and funds the government through October, the conventional wisdom in Washington is that Congress is done legislating for the rest of the year, save one major issue: addressing opioids.

  • Vertical Mergers Of Rx Supply Chain Spark Antitrust Concerns

    The recent announcement of two vertical mergers ­— the $52 billion acquisition of Express Scripts, the largest pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) in the country, by Cigna, and the $69 billion purchase of Aetna by CVS Health — raise significant antitrust concerns over how these megacompanies will impact patient access and pharmaceutical pricing.

  • Republicans Forsake Fiscal Restraint And Market-Based Healthcare

    In an incredible show of profligacy, Republicans forsook any notion of fiscal conservatism by substantially increasing discretionary spending by over $2 trillion over the next decade, less than two months after cutting taxes by $1.5 trillion over that same time period.

  • Government’s Absurd View Of The Healthcare System

    The absurdity of the U.S. government’s perspective on the implementation of government-run health programs came into focus recently in the Republican tax overhaul bill as well as the rollout of the new Medicare physician payment system.

  • CMS Opens Path To Reform Of Part D

    Pressure had been building for more than a year for something to be done about drug prices, and specifically inflated list prices to the patient at the pharmacy counter that do not reflect the substantial rebates manufacturers are providing. Where was all the money going? How could the list price and patient copays for drugs keep rising when the net prices — accounting for manufacturer rebates — stayed level?

  • Trump Surprises: 340B Reform And Pharmaceutical Exec For HHS

    Policymakers recently have focused on the 340B program as its size increased. Whole cottage industries have been created that instruct how hospitals and contract pharmacies can profit from the loose regulations, to the point that the drug industry can no longer overlook the market inefficiencies Yet despite several oversight hearings by the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Congress could not come to a consensus on how to reform it.

  • Republican Dysfunction Could Result In Radical Democratic Health Agenda

    Many analysts believe the Republican base’s frustration with the inability of the party to repeal Obamacare makes a Democrat takeover of Congress in 2018 a real possibility. An examination of Democratic health priorities is therefore in order.

  • What Does The Trump Pivot Mean For Healthcare?

    Frustrated with congressional Republican inaction on major pieces of his agenda, President Trump cut deals with Democrats on a short-term increase in the debt ceiling and funding the government. Then to the surprise and consternation of his base, Trump agreed to work on a deal to extend DACA, a Democratic priority. But what does Trump’s new interest in working with Democrats mean for healthcare policy-making? That is not yet clear.

  • Part D Is Due For A Tune-Up

    Lost in the hubbub over drug pricing has been the flat and declining spending recently in Part D. The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) June 2017 Baseline projections show that Part D spending stabilized at $95 billion annually for 2016 and 2017 and will decline to $92 billion in 2018.

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