Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Last Call For Ridin With Biden, Con't

President Biden and Senate Democrats have been putting pressure on Big Pharma to cap insulin for all patients at $35 for more than a year now (as Republican blocked that measure in Congress) but today drugmaker Eli Lilly announced they will do just that.


Eli Lilly will cap the out-of-pocket cost of its insulin at $35 a month, the drugmaker said Wednesday. The move, experts say, could prompt other insulin makers in the U.S. to follow suit.

The change, which Eli Lilly said takes effect immediately, puts the drugmaker in line with a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act, which in January imposed a $35 monthly cap on the out-of-pocket cost of insulin for seniors enrolled in Medicare.

President Joe Biden praised the move in a tweet, calling on other drugmakers to also lower insulin prices. Biden made insulin costs a focus of his State of the Union speech last month.

The American Diabetes Association also applauded the decision, and encouraged other insulin manufacturers to lower costs.

Insulin makers have faced pressure from members of Congress and advocacy groups to lower the cost of the lifesaving medication. Insulin costs in the U.S. are notoriously high compared to the costs in other countries; the Rand Corporation, a public policy think tank, estimated that in 2018, the average list price for one vial of insulin in the U.S. was $98.70.

"Patients should have a consistent and lower cost experience at the pharmacy counter," David Ricks, Eli Lilly’s CEO, said on a press call Wednesday.

The cap automatically applies to people with private insurance. People without insurance will be eligible as long as they sign up for Eli Lilly’s copay assistance program.

That program began providing insulin to patients — regardless of their insurance statuses — for no more than $35 a month in 2020 because of the pandemic.

The cap applies to all of Eli Lilly’s insulin products, said Kelly Smith, a spokesperson for the company. In addition to the cost caps, the company will lower the list price for several of its products, including Humalog, this year.

Ricks said that the decision came as a result of conversations between the company and members of Congress about the cost of the medication.

The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act resulted in a "split situation" in the U.S., he said, where seniors benefited from a $35 out-of-pocket monthly cap, but people with private insurance and the uninsured did not.
Another impressive victory for the American people here. And yes, other Big Pharma companies need to follow suit.
Good job, Dems.

Wacky Fascist Roundup Time

Republicans in Oklahoma, Florida and Iowa are pushing legislation to make their polical enemies as miserable as possible as GOP fascism rolls on across the USA. First, Oklahoma is making all gender-affirming care ineligible for insurance and banning procedures completely for those under 18.
The Oklahoma House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill that would prohibit gender transition services for minors.

House Bill 2177 would ban health care professionals from providing, attempting to provide or providing a referral for puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and gender reassignment surgeries for minors. State Reps. Kevin West, R-Moore, and Jim Olsen, R-Roland, co-authored the measure.

The House passed the bill with an 80-18 vote.

"This legislation is about protecting our children from those who would seek to profit from their gender confusion," West said in a news release. "As a state, we must not be partner to irreversible health practices that permanently change the bodies of our children before they are of an age where they can fully understand the consequences of their decisions."

The bill allows exceptions for minors with a medically verifiable disorder. The legislation grants a six-month time period to tape off any minor currently on hormone therapy.

House Bill 2177 also prohibits insurance coverage for gender transition services performed within Oklahoma on any minor or adult.

"Common sense tells us that the decisions people make as a teenager may be shortsighted and later regretted, especially in regard to a major action like these irreversible procedures," Olsen said. "Even one child who undergoes a life-altering procedure and later laments their decision is one too many. I'm proud to stand against these reprehensible actions and proud to protect Oklahoma's children."

Groups – including Freedom Oklahoma, the ACLU of Oklahoma and Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes – have spoken out against the bill and call on the legislature to end an attack on best-practice medical care for transgender Oklahomans.
The bill would also allow anyone who received these services to file action up to age 45.  

Meanwhile in Florida, Republicans are trying to outlaw the entire Florida Democratic Party.

The Florida Democratic party would not exist if a new Senate bill is passed and signed into law.

Spring Hill Republican Senator Blaise Ingoglia has filed SB 1248, which would be called "The Ultimate Cancel Act."

While it does not mention the Democratic party's name, it would direct the Florida Division of Elections to "immediately cancel the filings of a political party, to include its registration and approved status as a political party, if the party’s platform has previously advocated for, or been in support of, slavery or involuntary servitude."

Southern Democrats advocated for slavery during the Civil War.

Under the Bill, registered Democrats would be automatically re-registered as having "no party affiliation." The Democratic party officers could reorganize, but only under a substantially different name.

"For years now, leftist activists have been trying to "cancel" people and companies for things they have said or done in the past. This includes the removal of statues and memorials, and the renaming of buildings. Using this standard, it would be hypocritical not to cancel the Democrat Party itself for the same reason," explained Sen. Ingoglia.
That's entirely not a fascist, authoritarian thing to do, isn't it?

Finally, Iowa Republicans are planning a direct challenge to Obergefell v Hodges by trying to ban same-sex marriage as "religious freedom".

Nearly eight years after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage and several months after Congress codified gay nuptials, Iowa legislators proposed banning such unions in their state constitution.

“In accordance with the laws of nature and nature’s God, the state of Iowa recognizes the definition of marriage to be the solemnized union between one human biological male and one human biological female,” says the joint resolution, introduced Tuesday by eight Republican members of the state House.

If the measure becomes law, it would conflict with the Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, Obergefell v. Hodges, and Congress’ bipartisan passage of the Respect for Marriage Act late last year. Therefore, it is unclear that such a law could be enforceable, as federal law and the federal Constitution take precedence over state law.

State Rep. Brad Sherman, one of the bill’s eight co-sponsors, said in an email that the joint resolution "would take several years to accomplish."

"Should the people of Iowa vote for such an amendment, laws would have to be adjusted to make laws fair for all," he said.

The seven other co-sponsors did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Several Iowa Democrats were quick to criticize the proposal, saying it would take the state — which became one of the first to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009 — “backwards.”

“No, @IowaGOP, we will not be going back to the days when committed, loving same-sex couples don’t have the same right to marriage equality as everyone else,” state Rep. Sami Scheetz tweeted. “This kind of disgusting hatred and backwards thinking has no place in Iowa. And I’ll fight it every single day.”

This is clearly being set up as a massive SCOTUS fight for 2024, where they clearly expect both Obergefell and the Respect for Marriage Act to get trashed, and a Supreme Court that would side with Iowa in this case would absolutely put us on the 8-lane interstate highway to a Christian white supremacist theocracy and eliminate the entire Civil Rights era in the name of "closely held religious beliefs".

Things are getting scary out there, folks. Republicans want LGBTQ+ folks and hell, even Democrats eliminated. They're going to certainly try it. 

There is darkness and buckets of blood down this path, I guarantee.

Lights Out For Lightfoot

Lori Lightfoot becomes the first Chicago Mayor to lose a re-election bid in my lifetime, as she barely got 16% of the vote and failed to make an April runoff.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her bid for re-election Tuesday, ending her historic run as the city’s first Black woman and first openly gay person to serve in the position.

The Democratic incumbent failed to gain enough votes in the nine-person race to move on to an April 4 runoff election, according to projections by The Associated Press.

Paul Vallas, a former superintendent of Chicago schools, will face Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union.

Ideologically, the choice between Vallas and Johnson is stark. Vallas ran as a moderate law-and-order candidate, while Johnson ran on an unabashedly progressive agenda.

But Chicagoans sent a message that they wanted change, rejecting both an incumbent mayor and a sitting congressman. Lightfoot is the first incumbent elected Chicago mayor to lose re-election since 1983.

The mayor conceded defeat Tuesday night at her party in downtown Chicago, saying, "Obviously we didn't win the election today, but I stand here with my head held high."

Lightfoot has been dogged by persistent crime in the city, which has been a top concern among Chicagoans. Crime spiked within her term, though the mayor has repeatedly touted that it dropped year-over-year in 2022.

Vallas was widely expected to emerge from the first round of voting, having built his campaign around a tough-on-crime theme and garnering support in the vote-rich northern and northwestern sides of the city. He also gained the backing of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police.

It's a bitter end to a tumultuous tenure for Lightfoot, who quickly developed an image as a national lightning rod for conservatives and repeatedly clashed with institutional interests, from the Chicago Teachers Union to the media to the police rank and file. She was at times lauded for her handling of the pandemic but saw violent riots in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of a white police officer.

Lightfoot faced long odds and was in danger of an early re-election knockout. Having lost the support she once held along Chicago’s lakeshore neighborhoods and with major labor unions working against her, Lightfoot was among seven Black candidates competing for votes among the city’s Black population. But she faced stiff competition, particularly from Johnson, who had the backing and organizational benefits of the powerful Chicago Teachers Union, as well as Willie Wilson, a Black entrepreneur who had been polling ahead of Johnson.
Lightfoot's spiral into oblivion should be held as a warning sign to both Eric Adams in NYC and  Karen Bass in LA. What voters in America's biggest, bluest cities want is somebody who actually gets shit done, and so far both Bass and Adams are headed for the trash heap, especially Adams.
Lightfoot made the mistake of picking fights with everybody in Cook County, and she lost those fights substantially. To not even get 20% of the vote as an incumbent is an embarrassment.  Ross Barkan at NY Magazine sums it up:

The nonpartisan race attracted national attention because it offered the rarest of political tableaus: an incumbent mayor struggling for survival. After winning a commanding election victory four years ago on a platform of political and police reform, Lightfoot was forced to govern through crises that would break any executive: a deadly pandemic and a long summer of social unrest. Homicide rates spiked in Chicago as residents, overwhelmingly, began to worry about crime more than any other pressing issue. And Lightfoot, a former prosecutor who had never held elected office before, stumbled repeatedly as she strained to hold together the coalitions that made her mayor in the first place.

Lightfoot alienated just about every ideological faction in Chicago. The city’s second Black mayor, Lightfoot battled Johnson, a proud progressive, for support in Chicago’s pivotal African American neighborhoods. Left-leaning organizations and local leaders viewed Lightfoot with increasing skepticism, portraying her as a pro-police neoliberal like her predecessor, Rahm Emanuel. She managed to feud, almost equally, with two influential unions that hold starkly different political views: the Chicago Teachers Union, which is left-wing and backed Johnson, and the city’s police union, Fraternal Order of Police, which is headed by a proud Donald Trump supporter.

We'll see how April's runoff turns out, I hope Brandon Johnson can prevail, but I'm expecting Vallas to win. Lightfoot however, well, good riddance.
Any Chicagoans want to chime in, feel free.
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