The Health 202: Trump may have made it easier for Biden to go after the drug industry

“This provides an opening,” said Elizabeth Fowler, executive vice president for programs at the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund. “Maybe it’s a bargaining chip with the industry.” 

Biden likes the idea of bringing high U.S. drug prices more in line with other countries’ lower prices. 

This is the core idea in the “most favored nation” rule Trump announced on Friday. It will tie the prices of drugs in Medicare Part B to the lower prices in other developed countries, many of which negotiate those prices directly with drugmakers.

This approach of linking high-cost U.S. drugs to an international index is one that has been embraced by many Democrats. Last year, House Democrats passed a bill allowing the federal government to negotiate lower Medicare drug prices. The bill, H.R. 3, uses an index of prices in six other countries as a price ceiling for the United States.

Implemented a most favored nation rule represents a major shift in the way the federal government sets prices for drugs in the Medicare program and could result in significant payment cuts for drugmakers.

During his campaign, Biden proposed creating an independent panel to recommend prices for new drugs that lack competition and are provided through Medicare and marketplace plans. The panel would consider other countries’ prices in making its recommendations.

Yet it’s not entirely clear how the Biden administration will handle Trump’s rule.

For one thing, the Trump administration skipped the normal rulemaking process, which requires weeks for public comment. Instead, it issued what is known as an “interim final rule” a move typically only reserved for rules that need to go into place quickly. 

That could make it difficult for the Biden administration to defend the policy in court if the pharmaceutical industry sues over the rule. The rule also relies on the government’s authority to experiment with Medicare payments, but the Trump administration wrote it so broadly that it reads more like a fundamental change to the overall program. That could be another weakness drugmakers could emphasize in court.

Still, the Biden administration may decide to stick with the interim final rule. Or, it could choose to walk it back and issue its own rule laying out an international price index. Representatives for Biden didn’t respond to a question about how the president-elect will handle it.

Either way, the situation will soon be out of the hands of Trump appointees, who will be replaced by Team Biden in two months.

“These initial rules will not be finalized under the Trump administration, so the Biden team will have a chance to finalize or not finalize based on what is consistent with their view,” Andy Slavitt, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama, told me.

Biden is less enthused about another Trump administration rule — this one banning drug rebates.

Trump announced another major regulation on Friday, finalizing a ban on drug rebates in the Medicare program. It is slated to go into effect on Jan. 1,

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New Zealand offers Biden tips on COVID-19 after successful response

New Zealand’s prime minister said she has offered to help President-elect Joe Biden manage his response to the coronavirus pandemic once he is inaugurated.

a woman wearing glasses: New Zealand offers Biden tips on COVID-19 after successful response

© Getty Images
New Zealand offers Biden tips on COVID-19 after successful response

“I offered to him and his team access to New Zealand health officials in order to share their experience on things we’ve learnt on our COVID-19 journey,” Jacinda Ardern said on Monday, according to Reuters.

New Zealand has garnered international praise for its response to the pandemic, with fewer than 100 current cases reported in the country as of this week. Ardern implemented strict nationwide lockdown measures twice this year, a decision public health experts credit with being instrumental to slowing the spread of the virus.

President Trump, however, has been critical of lockdown measures, warning they have a negative impact on other aspects of public life such as the economy and mental health.

Video: Azar touts Trump administration’s efforts on COVID-19 vaccine (FOX News)

Azar touts Trump administration’s efforts on COVID-19 vaccine



Biden has resisted calls from public health officials in the U.S. to implement a national lockdown, instead insisting he would “listen to the scientists” in attempting to get the virus under control.

Members of the Biden transition team have warned that a refusal by Trump to concede the election and begin coordination on coronavirus response could have deadly consequences.

“If we have to wait until Jan. 20 to start that planning, it puts us behind,” Biden said earlier this month. “More people may die if we don’t coordinate.”

New Zealand, a country of 4.8 million people, has reported fewer than 2,100 cases of coronavirus this year with only 25 deaths. The United States, with a population of more than 300 million, has reported over 12.3 million cases and more than 200,000 Americans have died.

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This Is Joe Biden When No One Is Watching

Photo credit: Win McNamee - Getty Images
Photo credit: Win McNamee – Getty Images

From Esquire

On a brilliant spring afternoon in 2016, I stood in a classroom at a Secret Service training facility in Maryland, where I was to interview Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. This was for a special issue of Popular Mechanics all about fathers and sons and the wisdom they pass along to each other, and the Bidens would be appearing on the cover.

They walked in, all smiles and handshakes, and we sat for more than two hours as they told stories: Hunter and his brother, Beau, three and four years old, taking turns sitting on Joe’s lap as he drove his ’67 Corvette through the backroads of Delaware. Painting the house when the boys were teenagers, Hunter dangling from the roof in a harness. Popular Mechanics stories.

They talked about the deaths of Joe’s first wife, Neilia, and their daughter, Naomi, in 1972; and of Beau, in 2015. Joe and Hunter talked about helping each other up, again and again and again, when the pain feels like it will never end.

Photo credit: Popular Mechanics
Photo credit: Popular Mechanics

One Sunday morning a few weeks after the interview, before the issue had even gone to press, my son, almost 7, awoke with a headache. His eyes began to close. It got worse quickly, and within an hour he was airlifted to a children’s hospital. My wife rode with him in the helicopter, and our other son and I drove 90 on the highway.

There was a brain surgery he almost didn’t survive. Then another. Doctors said words to us, and we tried to make sense of them.

Leukemia…aggressive…there was a hemorrhage…craniotomy…we just don’t know…

Sometime during the fever dream of that first week, an email came through: a PDF of the Biden interview, ready for the printer—these get sent around to the staff automatically. I read it, twice.

“We’ve always taken care of each other.”

Late at night, lying awake on the pull-out hospital bed, I sent a note to Hunter. I thanked him and his dad—their candor that day in Maryland, and the things they said, were replaying in my head. It was helping, and I just wanted him to know. I was trying to mute the terrifying words we were hearing in the hospital by amplifying their stories of getting back up again and again and again.

The next day I was sitting alone in my son’s room on the ICU—Sarah had gone for soup. His head was wrapped in gauze, his eyes swollen shut. Machines beeped softly around him, and he lay perfectly still under the hospital sheets.

Our boy.

Just then, my phone rang: a weird number. I answered. It was the sitting vice president of the United States.

“Ryan, it’s Joe Biden. Dammit I’m so sorry. What happened?”

I told him, as best I could, functioning as I was on little food or sleep. He spoke in detail of the brain aneurysm he had suffered

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A Biden win could lead to a mask mandate, more testing: Expert

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, told Yahoo Finance Monday a Joe Biden presidency could bring mask mandates and greater investment in treatments and testing to the fore.

If Biden were to take office in January, he said, there would be a far more focused strategy at the federal level.

“I think starting in January, you’re going to see a much bigger push towards testing, towards a national mask mandate,” Jha said, adding that’s what the Biden team has indicated it will do.

In addition, he predicts there’d be more investment in vaccines and treatments than has been made to-date.

“What’s been interesting about the Trump response is for a few months at least … it was a lot of evidence-based approaches. In the last couple of months under Dr. Atlas, it’s very much been a kind of ‘let it go and let people get infected and hope we get to immunity,’ ” Jha said.

The earliest months of the coronavirus outbreak were marked by the formation of the White House coronavirus task force, which included the nation’s top health officials. It’s how Centers for Disease Control director Dr. Robert Redfield, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, Sec. Alex Azar, Ambassador Deborah Birx and NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci became household names.

When Operation Warp Speed was launched to coordinate the investment in vaccine efforts, including manufacturing and distribution, it marked a robust public-private partnership that could streamline logistics once a vaccine is authorized or approved.

But that focus on science was derailed when Trump perceived he was losing control of the messaging to the task force’s doctors and brought on Dr. Scott Atlas as a task force advisor, said Jha.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden holds up his face mask as he speaks to members of the media outside a voter service center, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Chester, Pa. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden holds up his face mask as he speaks to members of the media outside a voter service center, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Chester, Pa. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Despite the billions invested in a handful of companies through Operation Warp Speed, investment in treatments and testing has lagged. That was revealed recently from data published by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a part of Health and Human Services.

With the lag in treatments, hospitals are amid the latest surge with no new treatments available and are still struggling with protective gear and testing availability. But even if the country has to wait until January for the change — and watch the death toll rise in the interim — Jha believes it won’t be too late to increase investments if Biden wins.

“What would have been reasonable would have been that back in April and May as these new therapeutics … were being tested, the federal government should have stepped in,” and supported production of tens of millions of doses, Jha said. Instead, the U.S. only has tens of thousands of doses to utilize.

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The Health 202: Biden could take over the largest vaccine effort in U.S. history

The initiative’s chief operating officer similarly said the election shouldn’t affect the vaccine effort.

“I see nothing that would cause us to stop doing what we’re doing, no matter the results of the election,” Gen. Gustave Perna said at a Heritage Foundation event this week. “We got our heads down and driving the sleigh, and we are going to execute our mission as directed.”

But as president, Biden would face some tough questions in taking over Operation Warp Speed.

The initiative aims to deliver 300 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to Americans starting early next year. A coronavirus vaccine has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but the Trump administration’s unprecedented effort has won praise even from skeptics who otherwise slam its response to the pandemic.

Paul Ostrowski, Operation Warp Speed’s director for supply, production and distribution, said yesterday they are “absolutely” on track to achieve the goal of having tens of millions of vaccine doses ready in December.

“We are actually going to exceed that expectation,” Ostrowski told CBS News. “We will have vaccines, we anticipate, prior to the turn of the new year.”

Biden is under pressure from some Democratic quarters to fire the head of the project, Moncef Slaoui, who was appointed by Trump in May.

Slaoui, who came from a venture capital firm investing in biotech companies, has held millions in stock on companies that are working to develop coronavirus vaccines. By working as a volunteer outside contractor for pay of just $1, Slaoui has been able to maintain personal investments and avoid making ethics disclosures.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other lawmakers have seized on the unusual situation, asking the consulting company that employs Slaoui to explain its role in his contract with the federal government. Warren has also said Slaoui should be the “first person to be fired.”

A Biden spokesman wouldn’t say yesterday whether the Democratic nominee would keep Slaoui in place.

Campaign spokesman Andrew Bates didn’t respond to a question about Biden’s plans on that front, instead providing a generic statement about how Biden will “empower scientific professionals” if elected.

“Why would anyone believe that the Trump Administration could competently execute on developing and distributing a vaccine to hundreds of millions of Americans?” Bates wrote in an email.

“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will provide the leadership that has been lacking under Trump to empower scientific professionals throughout our government — including those involved in Warp Speed — to ensure that a safe and effective vaccine is distributed equitably, efficiently, and free to all Americans,” he added.

Biden’s campaign website criticizes Operation Warp Speed, saying the initiative “lacks sound leadership, global vision, or a strategy for securing the necessary funding to see this mission through or secure trust from Americans who depend on its success.”

But Operation Warp Speed has already inked more than a dozen contracts. 

The next president won’t be sworn in until the end of January. By that time – if all goes according

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Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought ‘9/11 attack was 7/11 attack’

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenObama slams Trump in Miami: ‘Florida Man wouldn’t even do this stuff’ Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Brad Pitt narrates Biden ad airing during World Series MORE (D) defended his mental acuity and took shots at President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: ‘Florida Man wouldn’t even do this stuff’ Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence’s chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 MORE during an interview airing Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

Anchor Norah O’Donnell asked Biden about claims from the Trump campaign that he suffers from dementia, a general catch-all medical term for symptoms ranging from memory loss to impairment of problem-solving abilities.

“[You are] 78 years old. [You’ll be] 82 after four years. Donald Trump says you have dementia and it’s getting worse,” O’Donnell told Biden.

“Hey, the same guy who thought that the 911 attack was a 7-Eleven attack,” Biden responded, jokingly. “He’s talking about dementia?”

“All I can say to the American people is watch me, is see what I’ve done, is see what I’m going to do. Look at me,” Biden continued. “Compare our physical and mental acuity. I’m happy to have that comparison.”

The Trump campaign has sought to suggest in recent months that videos showing Biden speaking unclearly at times are evidence of the former vice president’s mental decline. Biden’s campaign has accused the Trump campaign in response of making light of the stutter from which the former vice president has suffered since he was a child.

“Did something happen to Joe Biden?” the text of an ad questioning his mental faculties produced by the Trump campaign asked in August.

Biden, who would be the oldest president ever elected, at 77, has frequently dismissed criticism on the manner from the Trump campaign. Trump himself was the oldest president ever elected upon his victory in 2016, when he was 70 years old.

“I’ve been tested and I’m constantly tested,” Biden said in June. “Look, all you gotta do is watch me, and I can hardly wait to compare my cognitive capability to the cognitive capability of the man I’m running against.”

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Trump, Biden final arguments at opposite ends on COVID-19

President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher’s lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump’s attack on ‘socialized medicine’ MORE and Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump’s attack on ‘socialized medicine’ Senate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus MORE are offering opposing visions of responding to the coronavirus crisis as a new wave of cases mounts just ahead of Election Day. 

Biden warned of a “dark winter” at Thursday night’s debate as new cases in the United States near a record high and hospitalizations rise again. 

Despite this worsening outlook, Trump struck an optimistic message, saying the virus is “going away” and the country is “rounding the turn.”

Biden is hammering Trump over his response to the virus, which has killed more than 220,000 Americans so far. The country is now averaging about 60,000 cases per day, a number that is rising as the weather gets colder. Hospitalizations, after falling in the late summer, are now rising again too. 

The former vice president immediately followed up the debate with a speech on responding to the pandemic on Friday. 

“He’s given up, he’s quit on you, he’s quit on your family,” Biden said of Trump. “We don’t have to be held prisoner by this administration’s failures.”

Biden and Trump diverge not just on their outlooks, but in how forcefully they would marshal the powers of the federal government. 

Biden is calling for new investments in rapid tests that can be done at home and called for a seven-fold increase in testing on Friday. Trump has repeatedly downplayed the need for more testing and blamed testing for showing the country has more cases. 

Biden says he will urge every governor to impose a mask mandate and encourages their use, while Trump has repeatedly mocked masks and rarely worn one himself. A study published in the journal Nature Medicine on Friday estimated that 130,000 lives could be saved through the end of February if everyone wore a mask. 

On Friday, Trump was surrounded in the Oval Office by dozens of people, almost all maskless, for an event on Sudan launching into new relations with Israel.

Biden is calling for “evidence-based national guidance” on when schools and businesses should open or close, depending on the level of virus circulating in an area. 

Trump, in contrast, says “we have to open our country” and has gone on the attack against Biden for being open to further lockdowns.

Pressed on that issue at the debate, Biden said, “I’m going to shut down the virus, not the country,” while leaving open the possibility of future closures of high-risk businesses like bars and gyms, places that experts have identified as significant sources of spread. 

Sensing the Republican attacks, Biden emphasized again on Friday: “I’m not

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Both Biden and Trump have questioned the other’s physical and mental fitness. Here’s what we know about their health.

President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden have both battled life-threatening illnesses at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, a facility they entered 32 years apart with uncertainty over whether they would return alive.

a person riding a motorcycle on a city street: Trump supporters gather outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Oct. 5 in Bethesda, Md., where the president was being treated for the coronavirus.

© Matt McClain/The Washington Post
Trump supporters gather outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Oct. 5 in Bethesda, Md., where the president was being treated for the coronavirus.

For Trump, his diagnosis with the novel coronavirus earlier this month was his most serious known brush with a fatal disease, and his rapidly dropping oxygen levels sparked grave concern among his top aides and doctors. For Biden, emergency surgery for two brain aneurysms in 1988 posed the risk of impaired cognitive capabilities, or worse. While he ultimately fully recovered, the situation was so dire at the time that a priest was brought in to deliver last rites.

Both episodes have become political fodder for opposing sides less than two weeks ahead of a presidential election in which the two septuagenarian candidates are competing for a chance to be the oldest sitting president in American history. More broadly, the health of each man has become a central component of an increasingly negative race in which questioning an opponent’s fitness for office has taken a personal turn.

Trump and his allies have regularly sought to raise doubts about Biden’s mental acuity, with the president telling Fox News in recent days that his rival could not complete his sentences.

“They said if you let him talk, he’ll lose his chain of thought because he’s gonzo,” Trump said during a 50-minute interview with the network in the lead-up to Thursday’s presidential debate. “There were a lot of people that say let him talk because he loses his train . . . He loses his mind, frankly.”

Trump’s opponents have openly questioned his mental wellness, with Biden campaign officials mocking him for musing about the medical efficacy of injecting disinfectant and for celebrating his ability to recite five simple words in order during a cognitive test.

Trump’s battle with the coronavirus highlighted his preexisting physical challenges. The Biden campaign has run ads showing Trump struggling to walk down a ramp.

Both candidates have not been fully transparent about their health status, even as they claim to be in excellent shape. They have released information from doctors declaring them strong and energetic, while downplaying or concealing information that may undercut those descriptions. Neither has allowed access to their complete medical records.

Trump has been especially secretive, concealing information about his coronavirus infection and treatment, and providing contradictory answers about why he made a separate unplanned visit to Walter Reed last November.

For Trump, an overweight 74-year-old and recent survivor of covid-19, and Biden, a 77-year-old who today has a few minor medical conditions, proving to voters that they are fit for the job of president is a particularly critical task in the frantic final days of the race.

The challenge has been made more difficult as the two sides

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Where Donald Trump and Joe Biden Stand on the Coronavirus Pandemic | America 2020

Voters in November will decide who should lead them into what could be some of the darkest months of the coronavirus pandemic.

The virus has disrupted virtually every aspect of normal life. It upended the economy, changed the way people work and travel, challenged health care workers and facilities and forced drastic changes on education and day care systems. In the U.S., it has infected over 8.3 million and killed more than 220,000, and those numbers are likely to be an undercount.

Considering the time lost by those who have died, one analysis estimated that the death toll means more than 2.5 million years of potential life has been claimed by the virus in the U.S.

The U.S. reports the most infections and deaths of any country, and one of those 8.3 million infected was President Donald Trump, who required supplemental oxygen twice and was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He declared his battle with the virus as a “blessing from God” after receiving experimental treatments for his illness.

Some experts have warned that the U.S. has entered the third peak of its coronavirus outbreak. As the country heads deeper into fall and winter, and cold weather pushes more people indoors, researchers believe the virus will spread more easily. The challenge could also be compounded by the flu season.

Cartoons on the 2020 Election

It has been suggested that life won’t return to a “new normal” until there is an effective vaccine. Possible candidates are being developed faster than ever before, with several showing promise in early trial results.

The coronavirus is even upending the electoral process – from massive lines for early voting to increases in mail-in ballot requests – though it isn’t clear what effect it will have on overall voter turnout.

“The real impact that it may have on the election is how it’s going to change voting patterns, and I don’t think anyone knows exactly how that’s going to play out,” says John Farmer, the director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.

Where the 2020 Presidential Candidates Stand on the Coronavirus:

President Donald Trump on the Coronavirus

Early in the outbreak, the Trump administration created the White House Coronavirus Task Force to coordinate and oversee its “efforts to monitor, prevent, contain, and mitigate the spread” of the virus. Regular task force briefings that included scientists eventually faded out and were replaced by solo events for Trump to tailor his own message on the pandemic.

And his message has been one of minimization and diversion.

“I think at this point Trump is running on the idea that he did a great job dealing with coronavirus and that there are very few concerns now and that it’s really nothing for people to worry about,” says Monika McDermott, a professor of political science at Fordham University. “Of course, him having gotten it himself and having recovered so quickly helps him to make that message.”

Courtesy of USAFacts

Getting infected “allowed him

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Biden called Trump ‘a very confused guy’ in debate over healthcare

  • Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden described President Donald Trump as “a very confused guy” when the president falsely claimed Biden supports “socialized medicine” during Thursday’s debate. 
  • “He thinks he’s running against somebody else. He’s running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them,” said the former vice president.
  • Trump repeated the false claim that 180 million Americans stand to lose their private health insurance under Biden’s plan.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called President Donald Trump “a very confused guy” when the president falsely claimed Biden supports “socialized medicine” during Thursday night’s presidential debate. 

In a discussion about healthcare, Trump said Biden’s plan to expand the Affordable Care Act by adding a public option would “destroy” Medicare and Social Security, and amount to socialism. The former vice president, who doesn’t support Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal, went on the attack in response. 

“He’s a very confused guy,” Biden said. “He thinks he’s running against somebody else. He’s running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them.” 

The president also falsely claimed that 180 million Americans would lose their private health insurance under Biden’s plan. While Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal would eliminate private insurance, Biden’s plan wouldn’t. 

Biden’s plan, which he called “Bidencare,” would allow Americans under 65 to receive Medicare — a public option on the healthcare exchanges. His plan would also seek to make healthcare plans on the exchanges more affordable by lowering the limit on how much plans can cost and get rid of the cap on insurance subsidies.

Trump didn’t deliver any new details about his long-promised healthcare proposal. 

The president’s domestic policy chief recently told Business Insider that an Obamacare replacement is still “being worked on.”


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