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mccaskill stumbles over 'crazy' facts in revealing medicare exchange

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mccaskill stumbles over 'crazy' facts in revealing medicare exchange

sen. claire mccaskill voted for a 'rock-solid deal' with big pharma that raised premiums on millions of seniors, which makes her part of the problem, not part of the solution. congressional hearings often serve as elaborate theatrical productions. members ask pre-written questions, receive formulaic answers, and in many cases use witnesses as props to engage in rhetorical grandstanding. the grandstanding element was on full display tuesday during the confirmation hearing for alex azar, the health and human services secretary-designee. sen. claire mccaskill (d-mo) wanted to beat up on “evil” drug companies, and she wasn’t going to let facts get in her way.mccaskill spent two minutes attacking pharmaceutical advertisements, including a reference to “the one for erectile dysfunction where they have them in two bathtubs,” before she tackled the issue of medicare “negotiating” prices with drug companies. at this point she demonstrated ignorance on several issues.first, she confused the difference between list prices, or the prices that pharmaceutical companies post publicly, and net prices, which are the net price for payors, based on negotiations with pharmaceutical benefit managers (pbms). azar admitted that drug companies have no economic incentive to lower list prices, but that negotiations with pbms do put downward pressure on the net prices. one can question whether pbms pass on their savings from negotiating rebates — some have done just that — but thei...