All Posts By

Robyn Boerstling

Louisiana Drug Importation Bill Threatens Patient Safety: Not Worth the Risk

By | General, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

This week, the Louisiana House of Representatives is holding a hearing on legislation introduced earlier this year that would authorize the state to apply for federal approval to import prescription drugs from Canada. While manufacturers strongly support increased access to affordable prescription drugs, this bill would pose a significant safety risk by exposing consumers to counterfeit and adulterated therapies. Moreover, this legislation does not deliver on a promise to lower drug costs and is not worth the risk.

To date, no secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been willing to make a certification to permit drug importation. Concerns for the safety risks to U.S. consumers far outweigh the benefits, and this is well documented by Food and Drug Administration commissioners over the years. Furthermore, importing prescription drugs would not result in cost savings for consumers. The Canadian government has already stated that it will not take responsibility for the legitimacy or safety of prescription medicines exported to countries outside of Canada, leaving the financial and regulatory oversight to U.S. federal authorities and local law enforcement. Federal agencies and local law enforcement already have enough concerns when it comes to counterfeit drugs.

Consumer safety is the most important public policy concern, and the U.S. market for prescription drugs is the safest in the world. To succeed in driving down costs, our federal and state governments should support market-based policies that will support innovation and bring lifesaving medicines to patients.

The National Association of Manufacturers has a longstanding opposition to the importation of prescription drugs. Manufacturers urge Louisiana’s legislators to avoid any needless risks to public health by opposing any effort to allow for the importation or re-importation of prescription drugs.

Manufacturers Urge Maintaining the Value of Present Part D Networks

By | General, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

As the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) closes in on finalizing anticipated 2019 changes to Medicare and several other CMS-sponsored programs, the National Association of Manufacturers urges CMS to refrain from changing its “Any Willing Pharmacy” requirements. Employers and employees increasingly rely on Medicare, Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D drug benefit programs for health coverage as some employers are sponsors of Part C and D plans for their retirees.

Competitive principles are a hallmark of the Part D program and have kept the program affordable for seniors over the past decade. This proposal directly conflicts with the Part D spirit and intent by adding new challenges and barriers to the establishment of preferred pharmacy networks. As stated in a public comment submitted earlier this year, we highlighted that preferred pharmacy networks allow for more streamlined management of pharmacy benefits by working to reduce fraud, waste and abuse, lowering the cost of the benefit for all Medicare beneficiaries and promoting the delivery of high-quality pharmacy services.

Most beneficiaries today choose to enroll in Part D plans with preferred pharmacies, and this proposal would disrupt their coverage without producing a benefit. Manufacturers strongly support proposals to reduce soaring health care costs, improve the efficiency of the current system and enhance the quality of care. However, the proposed changes by CMS don’t meet those tests. A recent Oliver Wyman report confirms the value of preferred pharmacy networks in the Part D program and employers agree.

Fiscal 2018 Omnibus Offers Opportunity to Advance CLOUD

By | General, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Manufacturers appreciate lawmakers’ inclusion of the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act in the fiscal 2018 omnibus funding package. This is a major victory for the delivery of strong standards and achieving much needed government-to-government cooperation to address new challenges presented by the digital age.

Digital information moves globally in ways that were never imagined decades ago. Current laws were written in 1986 and have not kept up to speed with technological advances and the connected world in which we live. Connected products, services and the technology of today demand a high level of certainty and stability so that the competitive needs of commerce are appropriately balanced with efforts to thwart international criminals and those who seek to harm our society.

The CLOUD Act provides law enforcement the tools they need to keep us safe and creates a legally responsible framework to address concerns of international customers and foreign governments to ensure the privacy and security of customer data. The National Association of Manufacturers has been a stalwart advocate along with other industries and has previously praised the CLOUD Act in a letter to lawmakers.

Cloud computing is a major growth opportunity for U.S.-based companies selling software and services overseas and a growing technology backbone for small businesses and manufacturers across the United States who are seeking opportunities to sell into overseas markets. Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers reside outside the United States, and the appetite for American-made products and technology continues to be robust, increasingly helping to support well-paying jobs across the country. The CLOUD Act achieves the right balance, and manufacturers are pleased to see advocacy efforts come to fruition.

Association Health Plans: Expanding Health Coverage, Reducing Health Costs

By | General, Regulations, Shopfloor Policy, Small Business | No Comments

For more than a decade, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has supported efforts to increase small businesses’ health insurance options through what are known as Association Health Plans (AHPs), and today we officially filed comments with the Department of Labor that again underline that support. What’s an AHP? At its core, an AHP essentially enables associations and groups to band together to provide health insurance to member employers and employees. Given the increased purchasing power and wider insurance pool that comes from banding together, AHPs often offer the potential of better care and lower costs. It’s a great idea for small businesses and employees alike and, thanks to a wide-ranging executive order President Donald Trump signed in October promoting more choice and competition in the health care market, small businesses and their employees may soon be able to take advantage of them.

Manufacturers have a proud tradition of providing health care to employees—in fact, nearly 100 percent of our member companies do so—which is why the NAM is eager to advance additional market-based policy changes that can expand coverage even further while reducing health care costs at the same time. AHPs offer an important pathway to get there, and we believe it is time to make this health care option more widely available to smaller manufacturers and their employees. We appreciate all of the efforts of President Trump, his Labor Department and Congress in moving us one step closer to making that vision a reality. We will continue to be a partner along the way, so more manufacturing employees can thrive, be healthy and share in their sector’s success.

CLOUD Act Supports Digital Age and Modernizes Dated Privacy Laws

By | General, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

This week, bipartisan legislation to update laws governing access to cross-border data was introduced by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in the Senate along with Reps. Chris Collins (R-NY), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA) in the House. The Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act creates strong standards and emphasizes government-to-government cooperation to address new challenges presented by the digital age.

Creating a legally responsible framework to address concerns of international customers and foreign governments is a critical step for Congress to take to ensure the privacy and security of customer data, while providing law enforcement the tools they need to keep us safe.

Cloud computing is a major growth opportunity for U.S.-based companies selling software and services overseas and a growing technology backbone for small businesses and manufacturers across the United States who are seeking opportunities to sell into overseas markets. Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers reside outside the United States, and the appetite for American-made products and technology continues to be robust, increasingly helping to support well-paying jobs across the country. Industries this week praised the CLOUD Act in a letter to lawmakers.

Digital information moves globally in ways that were never imagined decades ago. Current laws were written in 1986 and have not kept up to speed with technological advances and the connected world in which we live. Connected products, services and the technology of today demand a high level of certainty and stability so that the competitive needs of commerce are appropriately balanced with efforts to thwart international criminals and those who seek to harm our society. The CLOUD Act achieves the right balance, and manufacturers are pleased to see this proposal advance.

CRA That Proposes a Return to Obama-Era Internet Would Challenge the Ongoing Currents of Investment

By | General, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

Manufacturers oppose Sen. Ed Markey’s (D-MA) Congressional Review Act (CRA) proposal that would, under the guise of “net neutrality,” eviscerate a December Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision that restored the reasonable regulatory treatment of broadband.

The true effect of the CRA would be to permanently place broadband under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which was written to govern traditional telephone service, not broadband. The law was last overhauled in 1996, and a lot has changed in the past 20+ years. Title II for broadband does not consider the architecture of the internet nor the current competitive landscape.

Moreover, Sen. Markey and other proponents of the CRA seek a return to an unsuccessful period of restrictive regulations on the internet that hampered investment in our nation’s broadband infrastructure. This CRA is flawed and should be rejected in favor of a legislative solution that supports continued progress and capital investment in systems and networks that foster innovation.

Read More

Congress Sees the Importance of Addressing ACA Taxes Now, Not Later

By | Health Care, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Taxation | No Comments

When it comes to Obamacare (i.e., the Affordable Care Act, or ACA), Democrats and Republicans haven’t found much to agree upon. That’s why it was particularly notable when bipartisan consensus emerged last year around the need to do something about some of the law’s worst taxes: the medical device tax, the health insurance tax (or “HIT”) and the so-called “Cadillac” tax, which is a 40 percent tax increase on “high-quality” health benefit plans. Members in both parties said they believed these taxes at least needed to be delayed from their planned implementation dates, which is why it was so disappointing when legislation did not ultimately pass to do so. The good news is that Congress can still take action on the issue in the upcoming short-term government-funding bill, or CR, that the House plans to consider this week. Congressional passage would take a step in the right direction by allowing the implementation of these taxes to be delayed at various times.

The medical device tax, the HIT and the Cadillac tax were not designed to last due to their burdens, high cost and complexity. That’s why manufacturers have repeatedly urged Congress for much-needed relief from these job-killing taxes. A recent letter to House and Senate leaders can be found here. Unfortunately, the medical device tax and the HIT went into effect this year but the pressure to delay them did not let up. For the medical device tax, the first collection of the 2.3 percent tax comes later this month. Also, the HIT comes online in the form of higher health insurance premiums totaling $22 billion for more than 100 million Americans nationwide. Manufacturers are already planning for the 2020 Cadillac tax, with implementation beginning this year.

Manufacturers need certainty to negotiate health plans with affordable premium costs and best-in-class benefits for our employees. Ultimately, that means these taxes need to be repealed entirely. Members in both parties agree. We’ll continue pushing to get that result. But the CR that the House is prepared to vote on this week offers an important solution in the interim. While not a long-term solution for manufacturers or their employees, it is progress that the National Association of Manufacturers welcomes. We hope the House and Senate will pass this delay and continue working with us on a long-term solution.

Innovation and Continued Reforms Critical to Combating Rising Health Care Costs

By | Health Care, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Yesterday morning, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing to discuss a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on the cost of prescription drugs.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) sent a letter to the committee encouraging an approach that is focused on policies and reforms that are in step with the next generation of health care delivery and the development of new medicines.

No one is more frustrated with rising health care costs than manufacturers. Over the course of the year, a significant number of NAM members have reported premium increases of at least 10 percent annually. In addition, manufacturers consistently rank rising health care costs as a top primary business challenge according to past NAM Outlook Surveys conducted each quarter.

Unfortunately, the National Academy of Sciences report is shortsighted and recommends approaches that will shift costs to the private sector. Furthermore, the report questions the critical importance of intellectual property protections and unfairly blames rigorous intellectual property rights for inhibiting more affordable treatments.

Improving outcomes, boosting innovation incentives and continuing to reduce the approval process for new medicines are a better focus than additional government interventions. Value-based arrangements that focus on outcomes are encouraging, but outdated regulations need to be modernized to achieve greater acceptance, savings and increased efficiencies.

Protecting intellectual property and trade secrets for all manufacturers is critical to the success of the entire manufacturing industry. It is what gives manufacturers assurance that the billions of dollars and time spent developing new products are worth the investment. Without the right incentives, innovation will be curtailed, and competition in the marketplace will decline.

Manufacturers are always ready for health care solutions and will work on efforts that support a successful, competitive and affordable health care system.

Share