Lawmakers in Annapolis Should Demand Greater Transparency from Pharmacy Benefit Managers

If you’ve never heard of pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs), that’s the way they like it. While they administer drug plans for more than 230 million Americans, PBMs thrive on secrecy and a lack of transparency. Yet PBMs’ shady business practices deeply impact the lives of Marylanders by pushing up drug prices and limiting access to certain treatments. In fact, while drug makers’ prices have roughly kept pace with inflation over the last few years, consumers have faced steadily rising prices at the pharmacy counter -- partly due to PBMs’ harmful business practices. In theory, PBMs are supposed to negotiate with pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmacies on behalf of insurance plans to lower drug costs. But their role as middlemen between plan sponsors, beneficiaries, pharmacies, and manufacturers, provides PBMs with unique insights into a series of opaque transactions, and they regularly harness their knowledge to pad their profits at the expense of their... Continue reading
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Tim Lorello: How Could Tech Infrastructure Help Tackle Crime, Make Maryland Safer?

By: Tim Lorello, CEO & President - SecuLore Solutions Technology is available that can help tackle crime and give law enforcement and emergency responders another tool to help them do their jobs. Over the summer, Baltimore police began utilizing acoustic sensor technology that can remotely detect the sound of gunfire and notify officers of the exact location within seconds. Other cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have widely deployed these gunshot sensors; and some have reported significant decreases in gunfire in neighborhoods where they were used. There are other tools, too. Wearable devices, sensors, and scanning technology are becoming commonplace. Advanced facial recognition, accurate license plate scanning, and fingerprint detection will help identify criminals or victims on the scene. High-definition streaming body cameras and wearable sensor-based tools will greatly improve first responders’ personal safety. Some of this equipment is currently available, but it will become more impactful as 5G networks... Continue reading
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Marty Rosendale: Trump Administration Takes a Positive Step to Lower Drug Costs, but More Action Needed from the Maryland Legislature

The rising costs of health care and patient out-of-pocket costs that jeopardize access to care for Maryland families have rightly been a major area of focus for policymakers at both the federal and state level. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently issued a proposed rule that would help lower the cost of medications at the pharmacy counter and reduce patient out-of-pocket spending by reforming the drug rebate system. Under the current system, rebates are paid by drug manufacturers to little-known middlemen called pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Health insurers hire PBMs to administer prescription drug benefits, negotiate prices with manufacturers, and set rebates with pharmacies. While PBMs were originally meant to lower costs for consumers, because they operate in a black box with little transparency, it is impossible to know if these cost reductions ever make their way to patients, or simply enrich PBMs. The Administration’s proposed rule aims... Continue reading
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Dave Anderson: How to break the government shutdown impasse

The impasse in the dispute over the government shutdown and the border wall is an immensely complicated policy and political problem that pits two sides against each other who have diametrically opposed perspectives about the best path forward for the country. It is useful to distinguish the different issues involved, especially concerning the very concept of building a wall. There are basically three issues involved, which can be formulated in terms of questions: Will a wall be effective in keeping immigrants from entering our country illegally? Is the cost of building a wall worth it, whether that is $5 billion or $25 billion? Will building a wall help or hurt each political party in question? The first question is an empirical question. Empirical questions can be about the past, present or future. They basically are questions of fact. What in fact happened in the past? What in fact is the case... Continue reading
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Peter Auchincloss: The Wizard and The Werewolf - A Reminiscence From Damian O’Doherty

“As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, how good it is, is what it matters.” —J.K. Rowling Peter Auchincloss rolled into my office 20 minutes early for a meeting, carrying several giant, black 3-ring binders. “Peter, the infrastructure team can’t handle another set of binders,” I said sardonically. “You are the only guy that reads, ranks, and prioritizes anymore. The rest of us just Facebook.” “These aren’t for the team, my boy. These binders are for you,” Peter retorted. He dressed timelessly in khaki chords, a blue-button down, and a blue blazer. The bow-tie was a special touch, for everyday. “Peter, I can’t even read summaries of summaries, let alone your binders.” “This is different. This is for the most important decision of your life,” Peter said, as he walked away to our 28th floor outside balcony overlooking the city that birthed and launched America’s most... Continue reading
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