Responding to Coronavirus without limiting freedom

The spread of the coronavirus has been rampant across the globe crippling countries like Italy, Iran, and South Korea where government-run institutions are the ones solely responsible for fighting the outbreak. But, luckily for residents of the United States, our nation operates a bit differently. Because our healthcare system adheres to free market principles, we have the ability to have private industry collaborate with the federal government to help combat the coronavirus which was categorized just last week by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a global pandemic.

Every day in America, researchers from biopharmaceutical companies are working endlessly to solve the world’s most sophisticated medical issues. As the global leader in medical innovation, the world looks to us in times of crisis. The reason being is our free market approach to healthcare has led to massive private investment and unprecedented funding for the research being carried out by the best and brightest scientific minds in the world who are incentivized to work right here in America.

Simply put, thanks to our private healthcare system that has resulted in decades of massive investment from biopharmaceutical companies, the U.S. is uniquely positioned to lead the charge against the coronavirus today and any other epidemic that may threaten our society tomorrow.

The irony of large scale epidemics like coronavirus is the clear realization of why we have the system that we do. Lamentably, several legislators on Capitol Hill have forgotten the importance of our free market approach both domestically and globally.

For example, just last year a bill led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi made its way through the House of Representatives that, if it becomes law, would decimate funding for new biopharmaceutical research and development. HR3, more commonly known as “The Lower Drug Costs Now Act”, would stifle future innovation by implementing socialist style government price controls on biopharmaceutical companies as a way to drive down high drug costs.

The adoption of government price controls in the pharmaceutical space is not only short-sighted but flat-out dangerous to public health. People often ask, “why do we pay more for drugs in the U.S. compared to other countries”, the answer is because we invest more in cures and treatments than any other country, and today, everyone should be very happy about that fact.

It’s terrifying to think what the coronavirus outbreak would look like if HR3 had passed 20 years ago. If we are to survive outbreaks and even outpace them, we must have our research teams working at full capacity at all times. In a world of uncertainty, there is no such thing as over-preparedness.

“Do No Harm” in the effort to lower drug costs

As we enter a new decade, advances in medicine hold the promise for a brighter future in the battle against deadly diseases like cancer.  Advances in immunotherapy and targeted gene therapy, for example, present opportunities not even imagined just few years ago.  The challenge for politicians and policy makers is to keep these life-saving advancements coming, while at the same time keeping them affordable for patients.

Getting this balance right is especially important to the large population of Seniors we have in Arizona.

Just 15 years ago a Republican Congress and President modernized Medicare by creating a prescription drug benefit called Medicare Part D.  Unlike other parts of Medicare, Part D was designed on the free-market principles of plan competition and senior choice.  Recognizing that one size does not fit all, every year Seniors have a choice of a variety of plans who compete vigorously for their business.  In order to keep their premiums low and attract Seniors to sign up, plans have a strong incentive to drive a hard bargain with drug manufacturers to keep prices down.

Affordable Drugs

It comes as no surprise to conservatives, that Part D’s free-market model has worked.  When the legislation was passed, the Congressional Budget Office estimated both the cost of the program to Medicare and the average monthly premium a Senior would pay, for the first 10 years of the program.  The actual results were remarkable. 

Medicare spending was 35-40% less than predicted and average monthly premiums projected to be $55 or more in 2016 are in fact only $32.70 in 2020 and that is a slight decrease from 2019.  In addition to these financial measure of success, Part D maintains a Senior Satisfaction Rate in excess of 90%, unheard of for most government programs.

Despite this success, big government advocates like Nancy Pelosi want undermine Medicare Part D and its sister program Medicare Advantage, by importing government price controls from socialist countries.  What is known as an International Pricing Index (IPI) is included in her signature drug pricing legislation which passed the House of Representatives last December. 

President Trump has correctly pointed out that many advanced economies around the world which have socialist health care systems are not paying their fair share of R&D costs for new drugs.  They are freeloading on American consumers.  But the answer is to stop these unfair trade practices, not import their socialist price fixing to the US!

Socialist health systems hold down cost by rationing drugs.  They either wait a long time to make new drugs available to their people, or they are never available.  Writing in Forbes in February 2020 author Doug Schoen points out that “roughly 96% of new cancer medicines are made available in the United States, while the 16 countries used in the International Pricing Index only have 55% of new cancer medicines.  Further, patients in these 16 countries also receive these medications on average 17 months after release, whereas in the United States, patients have almost immediate access to new cancer medicines following FDA approval”.

These cold statistics translate into patient’s lives.  An HIS Markit study published in 2018 “Comparing Health Outcome Due to Drug Access: A Model in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer,” concludes that half of the gains in life expectancy we have made in fighting lung cancer, the number one cancer killer worldwide, would have been lost if the rationing policies found in Australia, Canada, France, South Korea and the United Kingdom were replicated in the US.”

Government price controls on drugs are not the answer.  But neither is doing nothing.  Fortunately, Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Congressman Greg Walden (R-Oregon 2) have introduced legislation to help. 

Their legislation, S. 3129 and H.R. 19, preserve the free-market competition which has worked so well in both Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage, but directs that more of the savings from negotiations with drug manufacturers flow directly to the consumer at the pharmacy counter in the form of immediate discounts.  They also cap the annual out-of-pocket spending Seniors must pay for prescription drugs. 

The legislation also takes steps to reduce the freeloading of other developed nations on our R&D and streamlines coordination between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Medicare to insure that new treatment reach Seniors as quickly as possible.

Doctors take an oath, “First, do no harm.”  That’s good advice for politicians and policy makers as well.  Taking steps to lower drug costs to Seniors is important.  But we must do it the right way or we will harm those we are trying to help.

Rural Arizona Doesn’t Need Surprises on Mental Health Care Access

By Timothy Alan

Each year, I plunge into the wilderness for weeks at a time. The experience is a salve for my mental outlook. “Getting away from it all” is an effective wellness strategy. But it’s important to remember, serious issues like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and substance abuse disorders do not resolve themselves with a temporary escape.

Treatment is essential. Unfortunately, in rural Arizona, mental health services can be incredibly hard to come by—and sadly, help could soon become even more difficult to access.

That’s because new legislation in Congress could worsen our state’s already severe shortage of mental health professionals. Elected leaders in Washington are moving rapidly on a plan to add price controls to the health care market. The proposal was crafted to relieve families of the risk of large, surprise medical bills for out-of-network health care services, but legislators’ good intentions cannot erase the detrimental consequences they would engender by enacting this law.

Price controls on any market are a recipe for shortages. When applied to food, the result was the bread lines of the former Soviet Union. When used on medicines, price controls contributed to the violent upheavals in Venezuela. If we add price controls to America’s health care system, including many behavioral health services, similar outcomes will follow.

This is unacceptable. Already more than 2.8 million Arizonans live in areas with too few mental health professionals. Our state is meeting less than 12 percent of the existing need for behavioral health services and would require nearly 200 more practitioners to catch up.[1] We won’t attract them if we have price controls.

I deliver wilderness-based therapeutic care for troubled teens and youth, and I can tell you, most of my clients with mental health challenges struggle to get help. A lack of psychiatrists and other providers is a problem we share with small towns, frontier regions, and remote communities across the nation, and it is putting our children in jeopardy. In fact, the suicide rate for young people in rural areas is almost twice as high as in urban regions.[2]

Without sufficient mental health experts, rural hospitals and clinics cannot provide life-saving emergency and inpatient psychiatric care for patients in imminent danger. And because the prognosis for mental illness improves with early treatment, our inability to direct behavioral health services to children, teens, and young adults condemns too many residents to more severe illness than they’d likely have suffered with more timely intervention.

Although my focus is on mental health, the effects of federal price control legislation would extend much farther into the health care system. Rural patients would be less able to access air ambulances to speed them to urgently needed care. The number of specialists, from heart doctors to trauma surgeons, would plummet from already low numbers. Patients would have to travel great distances for care, and non-critical cases would be shunted aside until a patient’s situation reaches crisis levels.

These outcomes are as predictable as they are life-threatening. Price controls never turn out any differently. It’s unclear how our elected leaders stumbled so far off course in their efforts to address health care affordability, but they need to return to their senses and protect—not endanger—Arizonans’ access to care.

Timothy Alan is a behavioral health specialist with ANASAZI.

[1] https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/mental-health-care-health-professional-shortage-areas-hpsas/?currentTimeframe=0&selectedRows=%7B%22states%22:%7B%22arizona%22:%7B%7D%7D%7D&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/03/09/the-suicide-rate-for-young-people-is-much-higher-in-rural-areas/

Arizona Conservatives bash FDA for regulatory assault on e-cigarettes

Arizona’s own Goldwater institute has joined a number of center-right leaders in urging Trump’s FDA to stop government overreach into personal health decisions. The coalition is calling a proposed crackdown on e-cigarettes a regulatory assault. Conservative groups nationwide are calling on President Trump to halt FDA commissioner Gottlieb’s panic driven regulatory action.

“FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s effort to curb the $6.6 billion electronic cigarette industry and an even larger reduced risk tobacco alternatives market is inconsistent with your clearly articulated deregulatory objectives and will destroy jobs, limit consumer freedoms, and harm public health.  

This week, a Washington Post op-ed bashed the FDA over its recent crackdown on vaping and e cigarettes

As the column noted, “Last week, a large trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine and led by British researchers showed people trying to quit cigarettes were almost twice as likely to succeed if they used e-cigarettes instead of conventional nicotine-replacement therapies such as patches and gum.”

Nevertheless, FDA commissioner Gottlieb shows no sign of backing down. In an interview Sunday, he said that while the FDA supports the role of e-cigarettes in helping adults quit smoking, “it’s now clear that widespread and sometimes reckless marketing of these products has come at the expense of addicting a new generation of kids on tobacco.”

This is irresponsible at best, and completely inaccurate. Vaping technology is not marketed to kids, and is a great resource for adults who wish to quit smoking.

The letter to President Trump was signed by more than a dozen conservative groups, including Arizona’s Goldwater Institute, ALEC action, Americans for Tax Reform among others. A copy of the letter can be read here.

Kelli Ward: The Lonely Leader of #NeverMartha Republicans

By Calamity June

Ever since Donald J Trump became the Republican Party’s standard bearer, a counter movement known as “#NeverTrump sprung up to stop the freight train of the Trump movement. These “Never Trumpers were not liberal Democrats, however. They were, and are, so-called Republicans, who just can’t stand the fact that President Trump defeated their favored candidate in the Republican primary.

In Arizona, we have a similar phenomenon that is every bit as destructive. “Never Martha” Republicans may well have cost the GOP a critical Senate seat. And thanks to this group of sore losers, we’re stuck with Kyrsten Sinema for six long years.

The #NeverMartha Republicans are led by Kelli Ward, who ran “one of the worst campaigns in recent memory.” For the 2nd political cycle in a row, Ward was overmatched, and soundly defeated in the Republican primary.

But that isn’t necessarily disqualifying. People run and lose all the time. Most candidates who fall short, however, have the decency and the desire to unite the party behind the GOP standard bearer, be it for President, Governor, or in this case, United States Senate.

But Kelli Ward? Not so much.

We had our first clue that Kelli would not be unifying the party when she refused to sign the AZGOP’s Unity Pledge. The vast majority of candidates, including Governor Doug Ducey and Congresswoman Martha McSally, signed the pledge immediately, signaling that they would be 100% supportive of the Republican nominee. But not Kelli Ward. Not only did she refuse to pledge her support for the GOP nominee, she engaged in a physical altercation with Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his staff, as she attempted to strong arm him from the race.

It got even worse after Ward’s terrible primary showing against Martha McSally. After garnering just 28% of the vote in the primary, Ward again refused to endorse McSally. While she eventually sent out a mealy-mouthed “endorsement” of the Republican ticket, her actions made clear her disdain for party unity and her commitment to the #NeverMartha agenda. Despite the primary election being over, her campaign continued to sponsor an attack website on Congresswoman McSally, calling her “Martha McFake,” refusing to take it down until she was called out on social media last week. So for the final weeks of the campaign, as undecided voters looked for information about both candidates, there was a good chance they’d stumble upon an attack website, sponsored by none other than Kelli Ward.

Lest there be any question that Ward was working against Martha McSally, look at her actions just prior to early voting. In a September 26 facebook post, she directed her supporters to vote for the slate below. Nearly every Republican nominee is listed, except one: Martha McSally. Incredibly, Kelli Ward promoted a slate of candidates that excluded the Republican nominee for US Senate, who happened to be running against an avowed socialist with a history of disparaging Arizona.

As we all now know, the GOP lost the US Senate race by less than 2%. It begs the question: how many votes did Kelli Ward and her #NeverMartha minions cost our candidate…and why should anyone trust her to be a unifying voice when her entire history is one of division, backstabbing and negative attacks on fellow Republicans?

They shouldn’t. And they won’t.

Latest Poll Shows Martha McSally Narrowly Leads in US Senate Race

Democratic Surge in Early Ballots has Tightened the Race

PHOENIX (Nov. 5, 2018) – The latest poll from OH Predictive Insights and ABC15 Arizona (ABC15/OHPI) shows that Martha McSally, Arizona’s Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, has a one-point lead over Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, with 49 percent of the vote. Green candidate Angela Green receives zero percent of the vote, down from one percent since our last poll. Since dropping out, Green no longer has the Election Day Independent voters, who we saw her take more of in a previous OHPI poll(8%).


The survey was conducted November 2 to November 3, 2018 with a sample of 631 respondents qualified as likely voters. All live-callers were used to collect the sample, yielding a +/-3.9% MOE.

“Arizona is seeing a historic midterm election turnout and Democratic voters are defying past historic early voting trends,” said Mike Noble, Chief Pollster and Managing Partner of Phoenix-based research company OH Predictive Insights. “The race has tightened and it’s fitting that the winner will be decided based on who can best turn out out their voters on Election Day.”

Since our last poll, conducted on October 22, the largest change has been the late return of a surge of Democratic ballots in Pima County. This is done by a bloc of Democratic voters who we were unsure would turn out in the general election: Steve Farley Democrats. This group is considered new primary voters who voted for Farley and not David Garcia in the Arizona primary election: OHPI analyzed them in September.

Farley Democrats started returning their ballots en masse within the last two days of early voting, especially standing out in Pima County with a ten-point Democratic advantage of 43 percent. In Maricopa County, the largest county in the state with 60 percent of the electorate, Republicans also have a ten-point lead with 43 percent. This indicates a lagging Hispanic turnout with engaged white Democrats, which is a trend OHPI was looking for and did not see materialize until recently.

The key comes down to Sinema’s voters being more energized, while Republicans need to turn out their voters on Election Day. OHPI found that 88 percent of Sinema’s voters have already turned in their ballots, while only 70 percent of McSally’s voters have done the same. This is ultimately a breakdown by region, where 86 percent of Pima County’s voters have already voted. Only 74 percent of those in the rural areas have done so, with more being Democrats.

A Republican turnout operation will be crucial to combat Democratic excitement. While many more of the votes for Sinema are already cast and guaranteed, McSally needs to pin her votes down and solidify them.

Methodology: This all live-caller survey was conducted via 50% cell and 50% landline poll. The poll was completed by OH Predictive Insights on November 2, 2018 and November 3, 2018, from a likely 2018 General Election voter sample. The sample demographics accurately reflected party affiliation, gender, region, and age. The sample size was 631 completed surveys, with a MoE of ± 3.9%. Numbers may not total 100%, due to rounding. Poll report for the General Election poll can be viewed here.

POLL: McSally Maintains Lead Over Sinema

 

Turning Out Her Voters is a Key Factor

PHOENIX (Nov. 1, 2018) – The latest poll from OH Predictive Insights and ABC15 Arizona (ABC15/OHPI), conducted October 22 to 23, shows that Martha McSally, Arizona’s Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, has kept her lead over Democratic nominee Kyrsten Sinema, as undecideds break between the candidates.

Since our last poll, McSally has increased to a seven-point lead over Sinema, with 52% of the vote. Sinema holds 45% of the vote, with only 2% left undecided and 1% for Green candidate Angela Green.

“With the hottest race in the country coming to an end, McSally is solidifying her lead over Sinema,” says Chief Pollster and Managing Partner Mike Noble. “The game-changer comes from Independent voters, who have swung from Sinema to McSally since our last poll. We’ll know come Election Night whether they stick with McSally or swing back to Sinema.”

When looking at favorability, McSally is more highly favored with 54% of the vote, again putting her seven points above Sinema. Sinema is found unfavorable by 50% of voters, compared to McSally’s 44%.

Among age groups, McSally is dominating the older voters. With Republicans over 55 years old, McSally is leading by a wide, 88-point margin of 92%, compared to Sinema’s 4%. However, McSally is losing almost a quarter of younger Republicans, with only a 49-point lead.


Among Independents over 55 years old, Sinema leads by seven points, with 53% compared to McSally’s 46%. Younger Independents are breaking more for McSally, giving her a 38-point lead of 68%, compared to Sinema’s 30%.

Throughout the state, voters have higher levels of support for McSally. In Maricopa County, containing the largest amount of voters in the state, McSally and Sinema are tied with 49% each. McSally leads in both Pima County and rural areas, with 53% and 59% respectively. Sinema trails with 46% in Pima County and 35% in rural areas.

“Considering the historic amount of money spent on this contest, which has been primarily in Pima and Maricopa County, it is ironic that rural Arizonans have tipped the scale in McSally’s direction,” says Data Analyst Noah Rudnick.

OHPI also broke down voting trends, being so close to Election Day. Among those who have already voted, Sinema and McSally are tied at 49% each. For those with an absentee ballot that they have not yet returned, McSally is winning at 52%, with Sinema at 44%. For those who plan to vote at the polls on Election Day, McSally has a commanding 64-29% lead. With Democrats recently looking to narrow the early voting gap of enthusiastic supporters, it is on McSally to turn out her supporters and see her lead maintained by voters who show up on the last day.

“We have been tracking this race for almost a year and are eager to see how it ends up,” says Noble. “Our polls show Arizona voters siding with McSally, and that’s exactly what we expect to see next week.”

Methodology: This 42% cell phone and 58% landline poll was completed by OH Predictive Insights on October 22, 2018 and October 23, 2018, from a likely 2018 General Election voter sample. The sample demographics accurately reflected party affiliation, gender, region, and age. The sample size was 600 completed surveys, with a MoE of ± 4%. Numbers may not total 100%, due to rounding. The partisan advantage was set at +11% GOP, based on returns when finalizing last week. Poll report for the General Election poll can be viewed here.

Guest Opinion: McSally Will Continue The Fight For Your Personal Freedoms

Last month the U.S Food and Drug Administration launched a crackdown on the sale of e-cigarette vaping devices and is ratcheting up pressure on e-cigarette makers. The industry is now facing new challenges as the federal, state, and local governments take new measures to put it under control.

According to the CDC, smoking causes more than 500,000 deaths annually and leads to a plethora of preventable diseases. Since e-cigarettes provide users the ability to control their nicotine consumption, it helps traditional cigarette smokers to gradually kick their nicotine addiction. E-liquids come in varying levels of nicotine, including zero. This can be particularly helpful for long-time smokers who wish to use vapor products to reduce their dependence and transition away from nicotine entirely. These products are specifically designed for adult smokers who wish to live a healthier lifestyle by quitting cigarettes.

Vapor products do not burn tobacco and do not produce smoke, tar, or ash. They only emit vapor. As most e-liquids contain nicotine, they are considered ‘tobacco products’ and regulated as such but these products do not contain any tobacco. E-liquids are only regulated by the FDA because they contain nicotine, which is itself derived from the tobacco plant. These regulations include company registration, product registration, detailed ingredient listings, labeling restrictions, marketing restrictions, and listings of harmful and potentially harmful constituents.

Federal bureaucrats and critics of e-cigarettes are using the myth of a youth vaping “epidemic” to suggest that flavors need to be banned. The truth is, the vaping industry is already working to make sure there are penalties in place for selling vapor products to minors – just like there are for cigarettes, alcohol, and lottery tickets.

As Americans, it is imperative we have the freedom to choose what is best for us and our family. Too often Washington, DC tells us what we can and can’t do. When Congresswoman McSally is elected to the U.S. Senate, she should continue to fight for Arizonans’ personal freedoms, especially for the thousands of adults across our state who need this innovative new technology to live a healthier lifestyle by quitting smoking.

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Poll: Jan Brewer and Grant Woods

POLL: Former Governor Jan Brewer leads former Attorney General Grant Woods in latest 2020 US Senate Poll


“These two are both ones to watch as jockeying starts for the Arizona Senate race. Whether or not these two run, one thing is for certain – we will not be lacking people lining up on either side of the aisle.” – Chief Pollster and Managing Partner, OHPI

Jan Brewer favored by 9 points.
Of likely Arizona voters, 47% favor Brewer, while 38% find her unfavorable. Arizona’s former governor also has 85% name identification.

Grant Woods not well-known by Arizonans.

Woods is still not well-known, with almost half of people saying they have no opinion of him, at 48%. Of those who have an opinion, he is above water almost two to one.

Brewer is favored most among Republican women.
Among Republican women, Brewer is favored by +62 points. This is much higher than Republican men, at +49 points, providing a possible edge in a Republican primary.

28-point​ split among Democrats on Woods’ name recognition.
Among Democrats’ likely base, voters 54 years old or younger have a 27% favorable rating of Woods. Older Democrats have a 55% positive opinion, which is a 28-point gap. Woods also performs well with older Independents, at 43%.

Methodology: This 42% cell phone and 58% landline poll was completed by OH Predictive Insights on October 22, 2018 and October 23, 2018, from a likely 2018 General Election voter sample. The sample demographics accurately reflected party affiliation, gender, region, and age. The sample size was 600 completed surveys, with a MoE of ± 4%. Numbers may not total 100%, due to rounding. Poll report for the General Election poll can be viewed here.