Category Archives: Medicare

Is Donald Trump correct about drug companies taking advantage of the poor and defenseless?

Who would expect this from the leader of a pro-business political party:

Pfizer & others should be ashamed that they have raised drug prices for no reason. They are merely taking advantage of the poor & others unable to defend themselves, while at the same time giving bargain basement prices to other countries in Europe & elsewhere. We will respond! – Donald Trump,  10:08 AM – 9 Jul 2018

It’s easy to agree that there are much cheaper drug prices in other countries. Trump didn’t mention that we now see medicine manufactured in China, as well as India – just to save a few pennies on a bottle of drugs that costs hundreds, or even thousands of dollars here.

nursingYet, the charge that drug firms take advantage of the weak and powerless would seem unfair, until we examine what appears to be callous behavior by drug execs.

The following tale of so-called success in reducing drug use among the elderly shows how drug firms can evade, avoid and continue to make billions from seniors’ prescriptions. Continue reading →

We use medicines made in China, marketed in U.S. If you import same drugs: $100k fine + year in jail!

A popular blood thinner now costs U.S. Medicare patients and insurers more than $5,000 a year. This drug, which has amassed sales of more than $10 billion, uses Rivaroxaban as the main ingredient – a compound available from 26 manufacturers in China.

$13,50 a day!

When you check prices for Rivaroxaban for sale in the U.S., the cost of a 10, 15 or 20 mg tablet is virtually identical, so the product quantity is not an issue. Rivaroxaban tablets sold in America, by the way, are so small they are almost impossible to cut in half to make a 20 mg tablet into two tens. Wonder why?

Since the price of materials is obviously so low (two for the price of one), it would seem that where it is manufactured is not very important, but to pencil-poking plutocrats, a penny saved is a salivating savings event of graphite proportions.

But what is the danger from manufacturing our drugs in China?

Continue reading →

H-2A workers don’t pay Social Security (FICA) tax, neither do the millionaires who are exploiting them

Foreign agricultural workers temporarily admitted into the United States on H-2A visas are exempt from U.S. Social Security and Medicare taxes on compensation paid to them for services performed in connection with the H-2A visa. This is true whether they are resident aliens or nonresident aliens.

In addition, compensation paid to H-2A agricultural workers for services performed in connection with the H-2A visa is not considered to be “wages” for purposes of federal income tax withholding, and thus is not subject to mandatory withholding of U.S. federal income tax…Internal Revenue Service

More than 160,000 new temporary (up to three years extension allowed) workers were issued H-2A Visas last year, with about half of those going to Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Washington and California. Their employers did not pay the company share (6.2%) for FICA (Social Security) or Medicare tax (1.45%). Their bosses didn’t even withhold income taxes, making net pay almost the same same as gross pay. Continue reading →

Congress votes to destroy Social Security, 233-184

Those April showers have drowned the media this year with reports of a petulant, prosthetic protuberant princess, also know as “What’s Her Name” or “Smarmy Scandals.”

Meanwhile, back in Congress, 233 members – 54% of that angst body – voted to destroy the Social Security system by not allowing the use of its $2.9 trillion in reserves, forcing cuts of up to 24% in coming years.

As a big boy bonus, this bookkeeping manipulation will allow the fiscal twits to proclaim that nearly three trillion dollars has been cut from the National Debt. These reserves come from excess FICA taxes previously paid by Americans to subsidize years where there was a tax collection shortfall.

But like Tiger Woods winning this year’s Masters (tied at 32), it was not to be. The bill – H.J. Res 2 – required a 66% vote to pass. It fell short by 12%, but under House rules this Constitutional Amendment can be brought up over and over again. Continue reading →

My Humana monthly statement left me twitched, bothered and bewildered in the quest for answers

The two thick envelopes arrive monthly for the wife and me, each 12 pages of lists of what drugs we bought that month, how much we paid, plus the amount Humana insurance contributed. If you just file this document, and don’t check the numbers, it may cost you a load of money.

I learned this when I reviewed my January 1 to 31 Humana recap for 2018, and found that the total for prescriptions in the year was about twice the total for the month. One month in the year expense should always equal the year-to-date total.

This same error appeared three times in my statement, and the higher annual total would take me into the Medicare prescription donut hole faster by nearly $400. The hole is where you pay 35% of the list price of drugs, rather than lower co-pays.

I decided to call Humana the Saturday I discovered this anomaly, and that’s when everything started going downhill.

A robot answers. It asks me for my date of birth, and the machine keeps telling me to repeat, because it doesn’t understand. I try using a Bombay accent, but still no luck. Finally, I get to a stage where I can enter birth date on phone number pad, and then I learn the bad news.

There is no phone customer service on Saturday or Sunday, only weekdays.

Can’t Humana afford someone to answer the phone on weekends? The company managed $4,100,000,000 in operating cash flow last year, including an expense of $148,000,000 for “charges associated with voluntary and involuntary workforce reduction programs.” Continue reading →

Should drug company execs get life in prison for their predatory pricing that endangers our lives?

Illegal drug dealers, who are designated as major suppliers, will face the electric chair or gas chamber if President Donald Trump has his way. Our sometimes alert members of Congress voice agreement, now suddenly aware that criminals who sell opioids, like heroin and oxycodone, deserve more than slap-on-wrist fines or jail time.

Don’t bet on the death penalty just yet for these creatures. With decades of litigation possible, it’s easier to prescribe life in prison.

Martin Shkreli, smug former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC

And speaking of prescribing, when are we going to deal with the legal drug dealers, whose companies have priced life-saving medicine in the stratosphere, so that only the very rich, or those with golden health plans, are able to afford?

An illegal drug dealer who hooks 200 victims deserves their fate.

A legal drug dealer who ruins the lives of millions deserves no less a prison term.

Which brings me to the example of Hepatitis C and the story of Marsha Lecour, who contracted the condition when she was four, after open heart surgery that exposed her to contaminated blood. Lecour is a native of Canada, the only nation, other than the U.S., which doesn’t have government-provided prescription drugs, where there is national healthcare for everything else. Continue reading →

CNN, Paul Ryan, Cato, NY Times, Paul Krugman, Heritage – one establishment voice against tariffs

Rich or poor, religious or not, every leader of every Southern state in 1860 opposed tariffs and embraced slavery. In the North, where there was no slavery, everyone favored tariffs to protect both American industry and wage earners from unfair foreign competition.

Today, Paul Ryan, Cato Institute or Heritage Foundation invariably promote cutting Social Security, Medicare, Minimum Wage, in fact they despise anything that helps the middle class. On the other side, CNN, Paul Krugman, WAPO and the New York Times say they oppose cuts to these necessary programs.

So, what’s happening here. Why are the leaders of the far left and far right joined together to fight against America seeking fair trade through fair tariffs? Continue reading →

If Trump had kept his campaign promise, a $50k couple would save an extra $2,739 in 2018 taxes

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s new tax law will save less than $9 a week for most working Americans, and many may receive cuts as little as $2.70. Meanwhile, a $1 million filer will gain $628 a week. The GOP plan smells like a few peanuts for the middle class and the elephant’s share of the tax cut designated for the very rich.

Let’s examine how the 2018 income tax really works, compared to what we were promised during the election campaign.

Current law now taxes a married couple for every dollar earned that exceeds $24,000 a year. Last year’s tax floor was $20,800, or a difference of $3,200.

Anyone earning exactly $24,000 in 2018 will save income tax of 10% of that $3,200, or $6.15 a week, versus last year.

What do you do with this $6.15 tax cut? If you are taking Xarelto for heart problems, as millions do, your tax bonanza won’t cover that drug’s $80 a month increase, or offset higher gas prices, or, or…

But what would have happened if candidate Donald Trump’s original tax plan had been adopted? Continue reading →

President Trump has a chance to save mucho money if he just takes my amateur purchasing agent advice

Dark coat waving, tie curling, eyes focused in imperial triumph, what could be more awesome than the American Don alighting from Air Force One? This is not the Don of The Godfather, who measured his might in mere horse heads and bedposts. This is our President Don, who commands the mightiest military in history.

But Don has a problem. The fridges are acting up on both Presidential Boeings, not being cool, when they should. Call them undependable deplorables, needing replacement, like Senator Lindsey Graham at a voice-cracking contest. Warm beer, anyone?

The specs call for 70 cubic feet of space, doors, a little light inside, and I suppose stainless steel might be nice. These coolers would be like a big version of those 24 cubic foot jobs, that Sears would like to sell you before all their stores close.

Why am I so concerned about saving money on flying fridges that only have to last a couple years until the new ($2,000,000,000 each) Air Force One replacements arrive?

Any country that has to hike Medicare premiums on the poorest of its citizens by 24% this year is in financial trouble. The reason for this seemingly callous action is our national need to fund the growth of the military 2018 budget to $700 billion, which Senator Graham says is vital for defense of our 330 million well-armed Americans from an attack by 25 million emaciated, near-sighted North Koreans.

Continue reading →

Middle class seniors forced to pay for that 40% corporate tax cut with reductions to Medicare

Happy holidays came a few days early for big corporations and rich shareholders. Their income tax rate in 2018 will drop from 35% to 21% – exactly a 40% decrease.

Next year, Medicare premiums will go from $109 to $134 per month – a 23% increase in one year. This additional deduction from Social Security benefits wipes out the proposed minimal 2% cost of living increase for most seniors, leaving them with no increase, just inflation losses.

The argument goes that most corporations deserve a tax decrease, because they pay higher income taxes (35%) here than in some other countries. Concerned about the tax burden on our “job creators”, I put together this list of the top 30 largest companies (sales) and what they paid in income tax in 2016.

All told, these firms paid $114.9 billion of income tax on $4,108 billion in sales, or 2.76% rate on sales. Continue reading →

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