Informed and Involved

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Our Latest Efforts to

Stand Up for YOU!

January

Made lobbying calls on the offices of Congressman Burgess, Barton, Congresswoman Ellmers and Energy and Commerce Committee Counsel John Stone concerning the safety of biosimilars.

Participated in a conference call with Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia M. Burwell and Senior Advisor to the President, Valerie Jarrett, to discuss the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare.

Participated with the MapRx Coalition to discuss the latest Medicare Part D formulary recommendations.

December

Participated in a national tele-townhall meeting on Medicare.

Signed a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Burwell commenting on the Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for the 2017 Proposed Rule.  Included suggestions for changes that would benefit seniors.

November

Held a luncheon for potential RetireSafe activists in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area.

Submitted a letter on Certificate of Public Need to the Virginia legislature.

October

Participated in the stake holders meeting at FDA concerning the re-authorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act.

Attended a two day discussion on drug innovation at the Pfizer research facility in Cambridge, MA.

Invited to and attended the National Consumers League Trumpeter Awards Dinner.

Invited to and attended a two day advocacy summit on healthcare and how best to advocate for change.

Attended meeting with biologic experts to discuss the impacts of biologics and biosimilars on healthcare.

September

Attended and conducted a seminar at the 50+ expo in York, PA.

Attended a full Senate Finance committee hearing on the financial situation in Puerto Rico and its possible impact on bonds that are held by many older Americans and retirement funds.

Invited to attend and comment at the public meeting on the re-authorization of manufacturer funds for expediting the evaluation and authorization of new drugs.

Attended a briefing at the Senate Russell office building titled, “Prescription Drug Costs: Trends and Tradeoffs in the Pipeline from Lab to Market”

Visited Senator Grahams (SC) office to discuss the preservation of access and benefits of Medicare Part D.

Attended a hearing called by the Senate HELP committee to get a progress report on biosimilar implementation (click here for more information on that hearing)

Attended a special presentation at Intel’s Washington office titled, “Big Data, Genome Sequencing & the Future of Personalized Medicine”

Visited the House offices of Congressman Tiberi (R-OH 12th District) and Congressman Young (R-IN 9th District) to discuss the support of maintaining the present FICA rule for restaurants and servers.

Attended a Hill briefing on the House side concerning the loss of Community based oncology practices (click here for more information).

August

CPI for Seniors bill that was championed by RetireSafe was re-introduced in the House by Congressman John "Jimmy" Duncan (R-TN-2).  The bill, HR 3074, would instruct the Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate an accurate Consumer Price Index (CPI) for seniors such that the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security payments would more accurately reflect the actual orice increases experienced by older Americans.  See the actual bill here.

Participated in a seminar, sponsored by RetireSafe, at the Florida Council on Aging Conference in Orlando, Florida.  The seminar was a debate on possible solutions to current issues that affect older Americans.

July

Met with staff of Representative Joe Pitts and Representative Ben Lujan concerning simplifying and expanding the Medicare Part D appeals process.

Attended a briefing detailing the Part D Beneficiary Appeals Fairness Act.

Participated in conference call discussing the implications of the King v. Burwell ruling and what's next for patient advocates.

Attended a one day meeting at FDA concerning PDUFA VI, the funding mechanism for expediting the approval of new innovative cures.

Participated in a conference to discuss patent legislation and its implications on research and patients.

June

Attended the BIO international conference in Philadelphia.

Met with the staff of Senator Burr (R – NC), Senator Collins (R – ME), Senator Cassidy (R – LA) and the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee FDA Policy Advisor, encouraging them to hold a hearing concerning the FDA’s lack of regulations and guidelines concerning biosimilars.

Wrote a letter to Inova Fair Oaks CEO, John Fitzgerald, in response to his commentary in the Fairfax Times in support of Virginia’s COPN law, which has left the state’s patients with an inadequate health care system. RetireSafe further emphasized that Virginia’s outdated COPN law threatens access to high-quality and affordable healthcare for everyone in the state, and that leaders in the Virginia General Assembly must work to reform the law.  (Read RetireSafe’s letter here)

RetireSafe workers collected petitions to encourage Virginia law makers to reform the outdated and competition restricting Certificate of Public Need law in their state.

(read more about COPN here)

May

Attended ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) Conference in Chicago.  Attended seminars focused on future payment models and the closing of community oncology clinics.

Met with two different groups to discuss the 21st Century Cures legislation that is coming out of subcommittee.

Visited with the staff of Senator Isakson (R, GA), Senator Casey (D, PA) and Senator Nelson (D, FL) to discuss FICA tax issue.

April

Reviewed a program that eliminates the need to call in multiple prescription refills, reduces the number of trips to the pharmacy and provides an opportunity for patients to meet one-on-one with their pharmacist on a monthly basis to discuss their medications.  Click here to see a video on this new program. Click here to find out more details about this great program.

Attended the fourth annual National Forum on the Future of Health Care organized by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

Met with staff of Senator Thune (R, SD) and Senator Coats (R, IN) to discuss Medicare rebates and proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage.

March

Attended a hearing called by the Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee concerning drug discounts given to qualified entities in support of indigent and patients without insurance (340B).
 
Sent this letter signed by 20 organizations to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) concerning cuts to Medicare Advantage proposed by CMS.
 
Met with Sean Cavanaugh Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicare at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Jefferey Kelman Chief Medical Officer at CMS to discuss continued access to pain medication while discouraging its use by addicts.
 
Met with the following House Member's staff to discuss preserving Medicare Part D, Representative Lance, Jenkins, Meehan and Collins.
 
Began a project to Preserve Medicare Advantage.  Our first step is to fight CMS on their proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage. (see comments on our Feedback panel on the right side of the web page).
 
Met with Representative Sarbanes and Representative Cardenas staff about 340B and 21st Century Cures. (Representative Cardenas received our Standing Up For America’s Seniors Leadership award, see it here).

February

Met with the staff director of the Senate Committee on Aging to discuss prompt pay legislation which encourages the maintenance of community based services.

Conference call with Congressman Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip, on the status of the Department of Homeland Security funding and the questions on dealing with immigration.

Met with Chairman Upton’s staff on the Energy and Commerce Committee concerning the closing of community oncology practices and their new legislation, 21st Century Cures.

Met with health and senior advocates concerning cuts to Medicare Advantage and the impact on older Americans.

Met with concerned activists led by the Arthritis Foundation on how to preserve effective communication between the patient, the pharmacist and the doctor when dispensing medication, especially biologics and biosimilars.

Presented our “Standing Up for America’s Seniors Leadership Award” to Senator Cory Gardner (see Senator Gardner's award here).

January

Met with Kim Corbin, Health Counsel for Senator Debbie Stabenow to review Medicare issues.

Attended a meet and greet with the House’s youngest member, newly elected Elise Stefanik.

Met with Senator Gardner’s and Senator Cassidy’s staff concerning the Prompt Payment legislation.  This legislation that will help retain community access for healthcare. (See Legislation here)

Testified at the FDA’s advisory board hearing concerning an application to manufacture a biosimilar for the drug NEUPOGEN. (See statement here).

December

Met with Senator Pat Toomey’s staff to review Medicare issues.

Met with Senator Orin Hatch to review the PARTS (Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade, and Sales) Act.

 

Met with Senator Portman’s staff concerning efforts to stop the closing of community oncology practices.

 

Attended a meeting led by Chairman Fred Upton (R/MI) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D/CO) as the discussed their new legislative initiative, 21st Century Cures, a bipartisan approach to improve medical innovation.

 

Presented our “Standing Up for America’s Seniors Leadership Award” to Congressman Dan Lipinski and Leonard Lance. (see Congressman Lipinski award here, see Congressman Lance award here).

 

 

 

President's Message

What’s the True Value of Medicine?
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The media has been full of stories concerning the price of prescription drugs.  Presidential candidates and many in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, have been quick to voice their disdain for the “rich” Pharmaceutical companies and blame them for the increases in healthcare costs.  Even the generic drug companies have come under fire.  While there are certainly instances where unscrupulous drug companies have raised prices without regard to prudent long term industry goals and without the support of other manufacturers or the industry association, it is important to determine what is the true, long term value of prescription drugs.

The infographic below highlights some important areas of value offered by prescription drugs (for a larger image click here).

These medicines reduce hospitalizations and even offer cures which, in the case of hepatitis C, can save hundreds of thousands of dollars per patient by avoiding future liver transplants.  The hope of developing a medicine that can curb heart disease or control diabetes or even delay Alzheimer’s disease for five years can save hundreds of billions in healthcare costs.  The problem for shortsighted politicians is that these savings may not be recognized for decades or may be realized in a different segment of our healthcare system.  As the infographic shows $1 spent on medicine saves $3 to $10 in hospital costs.

Unfortunately, from Medicare’s perspective, all they see is an increase in Medicare’s Part D prescription drug benefit today with no recognition that a decade later there could be a 10-fold decrease in costs within Medicare’s Part A hospital benefit.  The two parts of Medicare exist in two different accounting silos with no provision for recognizing savings in one system that are produced by prudent expenditures in another.  This short term thinking and lack of coordination is magnified by political expediency, powerful lobbyists, politicians trying to get elected or re-elected and the Congressional Budget Office, who will only recognize benefits generated within these narrow accounting silos.  These are the short sighted and blinder wearing bureaucrats that hinder making the investments now that will pay off in the future.

RetireSafe had always hoped that healthcare reform would have included a process to recognize, account for and reward anything that prevents or postpones disease, whether it was exercise, better eating, smoking cessation or medicine.  Each of these would yield benefits, maybe not immediately, but certainly over the long term, that would reduce the cost of healthcare in America.  We all know how difficult it is to start exercising, lose weight or to stop smoking.  Our government has come up with various programs to encourage us to become healthier with limited success.  The Pharmaceutical industry, on the other hand, continues to discover new medicines that prove over the long run to reduce healthcare costs.  Jumping on the “bash big Pharma” bandwagon is a short sighted easy thing to do that doesn’t recognize the real value in medicines and its impact on lowering long term healthcare costs.

More thoughts from President Phillips...

 

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I thank you for the update… I’ve never been one to accept defeat, but for the first time in my life I feel like the spine of America has been broken.  I’m seeing the Federal government taking control over every aspect of our lives… education, health care, EPA, and a soon to be assault on our freedom of religion.  We have lost our check and balance system, and the government is running rampant over our rights and freedoms. How is voting going to help if the polls are stacked.  Please tell me how we can get this runaway train to stop. I want my children and grandchildren to know how to fight this political machine called the government.  I’m beginning to think there are no longer two major political parties anymore…just one big political machine gunning for a one world government. There have been too many opportunities to shut Obama down, and no one seems to be fighting back.  Please give me any words of encouragement you can muster… please.

Thank you. - Marian
 
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Click HERE to understand the true value of medicine.

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