Punishing the officials who enabled the Capitol Hill riot

Photo by Alejandro Barba on Unsplash

Happy to see Judd Legum calling these corporations and backing them into a corner. It’s good for democracy:

“Popular Information contacted 144 corporations that, through their corporate PACs, donated to one or more of these eight Senators in the 2020 election cycle. Popular Information asked if they would continue to support these Senators in the future. In response, three major companies said they would stop donating to any member of Congress who objected to the certification of the Electoral College vote. 

“The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is a federation of companies that provide health insurance for 107 million people in 50 states. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association PAC, known as BLUEPAC, typically favors Republican candidates. In the last three cycles, the PAC has donated $959,060 to Republican candidates and $359,550 to Democratic candidates.

“During the 2020 cycle, BLUEPAC donated to three Senators who objected to the Electoral College vote — $10,000 to Tuberville, $1,000 to Marshall, and $500 to Hawley.

“In a statement to Popular Information, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association President and CEO Kim Keck said it was suspending all support to the 147 Republicans who voted “to subvert the results of November’s election by challenging Electoral College results.”

You can’t believe everything the food industry funds

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Via sciencealert.com, something we’ve always suspected:

“The food industry has their fingers all over our nutrition research. According to a new analysis, one out of every eight leading, peer-reviewed studies on nutrition is tied to business.

“Even worse, this conflict of interest, although acknowledged explicitly within the scientific journals, tends to produce results that favour business, and potentially with misleading consequences.

“This study found that the food industry is commonly involved in published research from leading nutrition journals,” researchers write.

“Where the food industry is involved, research findings are nearly six times more likely to be favourable to their interests than when there is no food industry involvement.”

“As far as the authors know, this is the first systematic review on the extent and nature of food industry involvement in peer-reviewed research. Similar studies focusing on industry involvement have produced mixed results, but far more research is needed.”

U.S. Supreme Court rules against pharmacy benefit managers

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This seems like a good ruling. I’ll post more as I see it:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled 8-0 that states have broad powers to regulate powerful pharmacy middlemen without being preempted by federal law.

The case was brought by the $400-billion-a-year industry, known as “pharmacy benefit managers,” against the state of Arkansas over a 2015 law that set a minimum, market-based rate the middlemen had to reimburse pharmacists for the drugs they dispensed.

More than 70% of the industry is controlled by three corporations: CVS Caremark, Express Scripts and OptumRx. 

Its critics say those companies are often in direct competition with retail pharmacies and they use obscure, anti-competitive reimbursement practices to underpay them. This has resulted in driving many community pharmacists out of business and depriving many small communities of pharmacy access, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge argued.

The U.S. Solicitor General and 46 other state attorneys general signed up to help defend Rutledge in the case brought against her by the PBM industry group, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.

Check your medical bills

Photo by Javier Matheu on Unsplash

Hospitals are losing money because of covid, and many of them will resort to improper billing to make up the difference. If you’re having any kind of procedure, check what’s covered. Via MedPageToday:

“Nearly one in eight commercially insured patients undergoing elective colonoscopy with in-network providers incurred out-of-network costs, researchers found — potentially leading to illegal “surprise bills.”

“In an analysis of a national claims database, and among 118,769 elective colonoscopies with in-network endoscopists and facilities, 12.1% (95% CI 11.2-13) involved out-of-network claims. The median potential surprise bill was $418, according to James M. Scheiman, MD, of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and colleagues (“potential” because the investigators didn’t have access to actual bills, but instead made estimates based on records of in- versus out-of-network coverage).

“Of particular concern was that one in 12 procedures without an associated intervention still had an out-of-network claim, they explained in a brief research report in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“This outcome is disconcerting because Section 2713 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [ACA] eliminates consumer cost sharing for screening colonoscopy and because a recent Federal Reserve study reported that 40% of Americans do not have $400 to cover unexpected expenses,” the investigators wrote.”

Bankruptcy vultures scavenge from coal communities

From the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

“Two hundred, seventy-four million dollars! Yet, retired union coal miners had to fight down to the wire to preserve their pensions and health care. Coalfield clinics, pharmacies, therapists, hospitals and other health care providers are dealing with decreasing revenue and are struggling to stay open. Indeed, many have closed their doors, slashing health care access for everyone.

“Two hundred, seventy-four million dollars! Yet, coal communities affected by bankruptcies are seeing tax revenue dry up. They cannot pay for local police forces, deputy sheriffs, firefighters, EMT’s and more. Their infrastructure is crumbling, and they do not have the resources to do anything about it.

“Bankrupt coal companies often pay legal fees that can run up to $1,800 per hour. I ask you: Who is worth $1,800 an hour? That’s about 58 times what a coal miner earns. I can make a good argument that what the coal miner produces is much more valuable to America than what a bankruptcy lawyer produces.

“Let’s face it, America’s bankruptcy system is a scam. It’s rigged to siphon off millions of dollars from working-class communities and send it to Wall Street. And just what is it that these lawyers and financial advisers are providing?

“The American bankruptcy process is straightforward. The steps are clear and bankruptcy courts’ decisions almost always follow the same rules, no matter where that court is located:

First, workers and retirees get nothing.

Next, vendors get a little, but not nearly all they are owed.

That is exactly how it works. The workers and retirees get nothing and the lawyers and advisers always get paid. They have been running this scam especially hard in the coalfields lately.

Next, the bankrupt company’s executives split up a wealth of bonuses.

Next, the lenders get most of their money back.

And last, a company cannot emerge from bankruptcy until it gets more loans, called exit financing, which ensures the lawyers and advisers get paid.