Analysis finds big state-by-state swings in prescription coverage

By Sam Baker
The Hill, December 4, 2012

President Obama’s signature healthcare law requires insurance plans to cover a range of prescription drugs, but the number of drugs covered will vary widely from state to state, according to a new analysis from Avalere Health.

Based on its analysis of state benchmark plans, Avalere said some states cover as little as 45 percent of available drugs, while others cover more than 99 percent.

“This means that … linking drug coverage to the benchmark formulary will result in drastically different coverage requirements state-to-state,” Avalere said.…

Map of state variations in number of drugs covered:…


Obamacare architect leaves White House for pharmaceutical industry job

By Glenn Greenwald
The Guardian, December 5, 2012

When the legislation that became known as “Obamacare” was first drafted, the key legislator was the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, whose committee took the lead in drafting the legislation. As Baucus himself repeatedly boasted, the architect of that legislation was Elizabeth Folwer, his chief health policy counsel; indeed, as Marcy Wheeler discovered, it was Fowler who actually drafted it.

What was most amazing about all of that was that, before joining Baucus’ office as the point person for the health care bill, Fowler was the Vice President for Public Policy and External Affairs (i.e. informal lobbying) at WellPoint, the nation’s largest health insurance provider (before going to WellPoint, as well as after, Folwer had worked as Baucus’ top health care aide).

More amazingly still, when the Obama White House needed someone to oversee implementation of Obamacare after the bill passed, it chose … Liz Fowler.

Now, as Politico’s “Influence” column briefly noted on Tuesday, Fowler is once again passing through the deeply corrupting revolving door as she leaves the Obama administration to return to the loving and lucrative arms of the private health care industry: “Elizabeth Fowler is leaving the White House for a senior-level position leading ‘global health policy’ at (pharmaceutical giant) Johnson & Johnson’s government affairs and policy group.”

It’s difficult to find someone who embodies the sleazy, anti-democratic, corporatist revolving door that greases Washington as shamelessly and purely as Liz Fowler.…

A well designed, national, single payer financing system would ensure that everyone would receive whatever appropriate drugs they might need. Instead, we have an inefficient, fragmented, costly financing system that imposes regulatory and financial barriers in the way of many needed medications, in a manner inconsistent from state to state.

Congress and the President could have consulted with those fine folks at Physicians for a National Health Program, and then we would have a system that serves the needs of patients. Instead, they consulted a “sleazy, anti-democratic, corporatist,” Liz Fowler, who orchestrated a program that instead primarily serves the needs of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. She had previously played a key role in the 2003 Medicare Prescription Drug Act (MMA), a program that prohibits government contracting for drugs under Part D of Medicare. She entered the revolving door as a pawn of the insurance industry and departs as a pawn of the pharmaceutical industry – the very industries for which she wrote the legislation.


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