What a difference a pro-consumer AG makes

That would be Pennsylvania’s Josh Shapiro:

U.S. Supreme Court rules against pharmacy benefit managers

Photo by Claire Anderson on Unsplash

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.

It’s only okay if you’re a Republican

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Remember what they kept saying whenever Trump nominated some random unqualified person? “The new president should get to pick the team he wants!” The same rules don’t apply to Democrats:

<blockquote>Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Brendan Carr admitted in an interview this week that he wants the agency to be deadlocked to “forestall” Democrats pursuing their agenda.

While President-elect Joe Biden will be able to choose the chairperson of the agency, the announcement by Chairman Ajit Pai that he will step down on Inauguration Day and Senate Republicans pushing through a controversial FCC pick by President Donald Trump has created a scenario where the FCC could be locked in a 2-2 partisan tie to begin Biden’s tenure in the White House.

Earlier this week, the Senate Commerce Committee voted 14-12 to move the nomination of Nathan Simington to a full vote in the Senate. Simington has been a controversial choice to be appointed to the FCC because of his connections to Trump’s social media executive order that targets Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

If the Senate votes to confirm Simington, it would leave the FCC with two Republicans and two Democrats. The FCC is supposed to have five members, with three from the president’s party and two from the opposing party.

However, if Republicans keep control of the Senate after Georgia’s runoff elections, they could stall a vote for Biden’s pick to fill out the agency. A partisan deadlock would mean any party-line votes—such as restoring net neutrality rules—would be highly unlikely from happening.</blockquote>

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.

Some of us are still trying to pay the rent without a job

Seems like a really good time to contact your reps and tell them to support the Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act, written by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.