Friday, December 17, 2010

Resume reels

So now that I don't have a hobby anymore, it's time to really dig in and get working on what I've been wanting to do for... quite some time. Reporting.

I have a few projects in the works, one of which includes translating and voicing over Who What When Where Why in French next semester. And some other stuff--you know, denouncing corruption and all that stuff.

Tonight I've been watching resume reels (some not as professional as others) to get inspired. This guy is just plain awesome.

I'll be taking a "performance for broadcast" class next semester with one of ABC4's reporters, so I'm planning on improving on my form.

As far as content goes, I have somewhat of a plan as well. The investigative reporting class I took this semester was absolutely fantastic. I have ideas and ways to accomplish them as well. It's funny because we talk about freedom of information a lot, but the truth is a lot of information is available--what it is not, however, is easy to access.

Anyway. That is all for now.

Oh wait. I've been wanting to post this and completely forgot. This is the result of a legislative research project I did this semester, and I'm actually quite happy about it. Anyway, have fun.

Unless you’re a pharmacist or a health plan manager, chances are you’ve never heard of a Pharmacy Benefits Manager, and yet they form a significant link in the complex creature that is your health plan. PBMs act as the middlemen between pharmaceutical companies and health plan providers, negotiating rebates and contracts in order to get you the best value on prescription medicine. Just how good of a deal you’re getting, however, is not easy to judge according to state Rep. Evan Vickers.

Currently, PBMs do not have to transfer all the benefits they receive from pharmaceutical companies directly to the health benefit plans, and they do not necessarily give complete information on all services. Vickers proposes to change that by requiring PBMs to provide itemized statements to health benefit plans and pay the entire amount received for pharmacy services in connection with a health benefit plan. The goal, says Vickers, is transparency in order to reduce the cost of healthcare. “This is something that a lot of PBMs are already doing, but we hope to give benefit plans the option to make a good determination, whether they can stay with that PBM or move to a more transparent option” said Vickers.

Medco Health Solutions, one of the nation’s three biggest Pharmacy Benefits Management companies, has been involved in interim committee hearings, and their lobbyists have mentioned “serious concerns” over the bill. A Medco representative was unwilling to comment at this point of the process.

Vickers’ Pharmacy Benefits Manager Act is not the first attempt at legislating PBMs, since many other states already have their own versions of the bill. Vickers says other states have saved considerable amounts on prescription drugs as a direct result of PBM regulation, citing the University of Michigan’s $50 million savings in the first year alone. The Utah act comes in a long line of attempts at regulating the wildly profitable industry that is Pharmacy Benefits Management: each of the three major PBM companies has annual revenue numbers that exceed $15 billion, and those profits continue to rise even as the cost of prescription drugs increases.

Consumer advocates have expressed concerns over what they consider a lack of transparency and emphasize the need for PBM reform. An October 2009 letter to the U.S. House of Representatives from the Maine-based National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices stated: “Because of the lack of regulation PBMs engage in fraudulent and deceptive practices, resulting in several enforcement actions by a coalition of state attorneys generals that have secured over $371 million in fines and penalties.” Currently, Maine is the only state with a law that imposes on PBMs a fiduciary duty to clients’ health plans: the U.S. District court of D.C. struck down a similar law in the District of Columbia this summer.

At this point, the bill is still a draft, but Vickers says he hopes to get the interim committee to vote on it and put it on the table first thing come January. He says he plans to work with all the parties involved: “I’m not naïve enough to think that I’ll be getting everybody around the table together singing kumbaya, but we’re going to get as close to a consensus as we can.” It is not yet determined how much the act should cost, but according to Vickers the only foreseeable cost would be that of monitoring compliance. The interim committee on Health and Human Services motioned last week to meet on November 17th in order to discuss Rep. Vickers’ proposal.

If you're still reading, I wrote Rep. Vickers an email just now to ask about the status of his bill. I can't find any info on the utah legislature website so I have a feeling it might have fallen through. I'll let you know the rest of this gripping story soon... :)

**EDIT: Wow. I wrote Rep. Vickers an hour ago and he just answered me. (I'm just going to say that America is awesome--there's no way a French elected official would bother to answer some college girl's email.)

The bill was unanimously approved by the Health and Human Services Interim Committee, which means it will go on to the general session in January as a committee bill, which doesn't guarantee passage in the session, but does give it a better chance.**

In all seriousness, if you want to be scandalized, look up lawsuits against PBM companies, and seethe in anger.

Also, kudos if you're still reading, what do you think about the James Zadroga Bill?


  1. Interesting. The Zadroga Bill link is broken, by the way.

  2. Hey! Thanks for letting me know. It should work now.