HealthCare Roundtable e-News – October 7, 2020

Registration is now open!

Roundtable members and friends may now register for the Roundtable’s 2020 Virtual Annual Conference. 

This year’s theme – Working Together… In a Disconnected Time – sums up our goal for this year’s gathering. Although we won’t be in the same room, we’re planning an agenda that will prepare all of us for what promises to be a very active period in Federal health care programs, policymaking, and engagement.

Registration details are provided on the 2020 Registration Form. 

Every registered attendee will receive links to the various conference segments during the week of November 2nd. 

Follow one of these links to the 2020 Conference Registration Form:

Conference Registration Form – PDF

Conference Registration Form – WORD doc.

Or, if you prefer, you may register online at:

Online Conference Registration Form

Follow this link to the Preliminary Conference Agenda. We will be providing updates as conference speakers are confirmed. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

Discussions on Health Care, COVID-19 Policy, In Flux After Presidential Debate and Trump’s Confirmed COVID-19 Diagnosis

President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis last week has created opportunity for further bipartisan talks to address the pandemic, as well as health care coverage provisions for the millions of Americans who have been exposed since March this year. Safety measures in place to protect the president have been questioned, and now the president himself is in a position of confronting the virus he’s mocked so openly. During Tuesday night’s debate with the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, Trump had dedicated some of his speaking time even to criticizing his opponent’s position on wearing masks.

Prior to the president’s diagnosis and the Tuesday night debate, Trump had rolled out a number of executive orders on drug pricing and preexisting conditions, which many policy experts deemed will accomplish little and serve no purpose other than to show some action from the White House leading up to the election. During the debate, the president did not elaborate on the details of the executive orders.

“It does behoove the president to talk more about policy, but when it comes to health care, I don’t think we’re going to hear as much about policy. Because if he talks policy, then Biden talks policy,” GOP consultant Ford O’Connell said of Trump’s debate performance. O’Connell commented that Democrats are seen as more trusted overall on health care. According to a poll from Morning Consult released Sept. 29, 79% of voters support health insurance protections for people with preexisting conditions and 61% of voters trust Biden over Trump to ensure this coverage. (InsideHealthPolicy)

Six GOP Senators Side with Democrats in Attempt to Block Supreme Court from ACA Case

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) led a vote last week in an effort to prohibit the Justice Department from playing a role in striking down the Affordable Care Act in the high-profile case Texas vs. California. The Supreme Court has agreed to review legal questions in the case this November, though the Trump administration had previously asked the Court to consider overturning ACA.

Notably, six GOP Senators voted in favor of Schumer’s bill, which ultimately failed on the floor. Republican Senators Martha McSally (Ariz.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Lisa Murkowski (Ark.), Dan Sullivan (Ark.) and Susan Collins (ME) all voted in favor of the bill, with all but Murkowski up for reelection this November. Some of the candidates up for re-election opted to cross party lines in an effort to reassure voters about their defense of insurance protections for pre-existing conditions. Senate Republicans had previously attempted and failed to pass their own bill protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions. (InsideHealthPolicy)

“They may feel they have the opportunity to get what they wanted and eliminate the ACA, but they have no answer for the American people who are demanding to know what their plan is to protect their health care,” Schumer said. “How do they explain how they can sue to tear down the ACA while they still claim they want to protect Americans’ health?”

The Urban Institute recently released a report on the implications of reversing the ACA, citing that nearly 6 million people would lose an average $5,500 in subsidies, while another 2.7 million families would lose an average $17,130 in premium assistance. The Center for American Progress also released their findings on what would happen if the court rules in favor of dismantling ACA, which would lead to the loss of coverage for 20 million people on Medicaid and exchange plans as well as an end to protections for the 135 million or so Americans with preexisting conditions (including those who were exposed to COVID-19). (InsideHealthPolicy)

House Oversight Committee Findings Denounce Big Pharma Arguments Justifying Drug Price Increases

At a hearing last week, the House Oversight Committee released two reports containing the findings of their investigation into the roles drug makers Celgene and Teva played in unnecessarily increasing drug prices. According to the findings, internal documents from both companies showed that executives hiked drug prices to meet company revenue and shareholder earnings goals.

Mark Alles, the former CEO of Celgene before the company was bought by Bristol Myers Squibb in 2019, was among those who testified at the hearing. According to the report findings, Alles had sent internal memos outlining a strategy to increase the price of the drug Revlimid by 4% in order to yield $24 million in new net sales.

“Because U.S. sales of Revlimid accounted for the largest share of Celgene’s revenue and earnings, any increase in the U.S. price of Revlimid was an important factor in determining whether company executives met their bonus targets that year,” the report states. (InsideHealthPolicy)

The report also notes other details into the investigation of Teva’s research investments for the drug Copaxone. The company has argued that high drug costs are essential to support research and development spending, but the committee’s report found that the company spent $689 million since 1987 of research for the drug, which had generated $34.2 billion in revenue between 2002 and 2019 alone. (InsideHealthPolicy)

Pfizer’s Bourla Pleads with Colleagues, Politicians to Leave Politics Out of COVID-19 Vaccine Development

Last week, Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, shared a letter to colleagues via LinkedIn his thoughts after witnessing the Tuesday Night presidential debate between President Donald Trump and the Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Like many who watched the debate, Bourla shared his disdain for commentary around COVID-19 and pleaded with his colleagues and the general public to stop mixing discussion on potential COVID-19 vaccines with politics.

“I enjoy a robust policy debate, but I’m not a politician. I’m a scientist, business leader, husband and father, friend and neighbor who cares deeply about the integrity of this potential vaccine. The amplified political rhetoric around vaccine development, timing and political credit is undercutting public confidence,” Bourla said.

Bourla, like many in the industry, said that the president’s comments on Tuesday that a vaccine would be available as early as November 1 was “disappointing”, offering that his company is now approaching their initial goal and had no political considerations, but acknowledging that Pfizer now finds itself “in the crucible of the U.S. Presidential election.” The CEO recounted his goal of having vaccine data ready to submit to the FDA by the end of the third quarter this year, citing that the goal was ambitious, as well as have close to a hundred million doses delivered by the end of the year.