Advocates debate Prop. 61, which seeks to regulate CA drug prices

Advocates debated Proposition 61 — a California state ballot measure that aims to standardize drug prices — at a panel last week at University of California Berkeley, reports The Daily Californian.  If passed, Proposition 61 would tie prescription drug prices paid by certain state agencies to the discounted price that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays. While Dan Johnston, research director for the California Nurses Association, argued that Proposition 61 addresses a pressing need for bold action to reduce drug prices, Kathy Fairbanks, a spokesperson for the “No On Prop 61” campaign said passing the measure could have unintended consequences for veterans and could result in higher drug prices for California or reduce access to medicine. The language of the initiative would restrict state agencies from entering into purchasing contracts with drug manufacturers where the price is higher than the price the VA pays. The VA gets a 24 percent discount on drugs, per a federal mandate.

Billionaires vs. big soda: inside the high-stakes soda tax fight

Voters in four US cities will have the rare opportunity on November 8 to decide whether sugary beverages should be taxed, and billionaires and soda makers are pouring huge sums of money into swaying their choice at the polls, writes Vox. San Francisco, Oakland, and Albany, California, all have ballot measures that would levy a penny-per-ounce tax on distributors of sugary drinks. The people of Boulder, Colorado, will also vote on a two-cent-per-ounce excise tax on distributors. The stakes this year — for the beverage industry and for health-minded philanthrocapitalists who want to fight obesity — are high.

Food Policy Action Releases 114th Congress National Food Policy Scorecard

Today, Food Policy Action, a national food advocacy organization, released its National Food Policy Scorecard for the 114th Congress. This is the 5th annual Congressional scorecard released by the organization to educate the public about votes taken by Congress on critically important food issues. While there was some headway on the passage of good food policies – and scores overall increased by 6 points since the 113th Congress – Washington is still falling short, showing little progress on major food policy in the last two years.

“This year’s Scorecard shows that Congress owes the American public much better leadership on these issues,” said FPA co-founder, food advocate, and chef Tom Colicchio. “Food is connected to every critical issue facing our nation – everything from our health, economy, and immigration, to labor and the environment. These issues matter to Republicans, Democrats, and independents. How Members of Congress vote on related policies has a tremendous impact on our food system.  Food Policy Action also announced its targets  and its endorsements for the 2016 election.”


Bending in the Breeze: American Class Actions in the Twenty-First Century


Writing in the DePaul Law Review, Richard Marcus observes that it is always better to have the breeze at your back, but that surely has not recently been the case for class action proponents. At the risk of overstating, there is a certain fin de siècle flavor to current procedural discussions, at least among academics; it seems that several foundational principles of late twentieth century procedural ordering have come under attack in the twenty-first century. Although not alone among those principles, class actions have a prominent role. Dean Robert Klonoff has recently written of “The Decline of Class Actions,” and Professor Linda Mullenix has written of “Ending Class Actions as We Know Them.” Professor Arthur Miller-who was present at the creation of the modern class action-has suggested that we face “the death of aggregate litigation by a thousand paper cuts.” But he, at least, sees some “rays of light that indicate it will survive.” …
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Sponsorship of National Health Organizations by Two Major Soda Companies

The beverage giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have given millions of dollars to nearly 100 prominent health groups in recent years, reports The New York Times, while simultaneously spending millions to defeat public health legislation that would reduce Americans’ soda intake, according to public health researchers. The Times story is based on a new report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

That study “investigates the nature, extent, and implications of soda company sponsorship of U.S. health and medical organizations, as well as corporate lobbying expenditures on soda- or nutrition-related public health legislation from 2011 to 2015… From 2011 to 2015, the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo were found to sponsor a total of 96 national health organizations, including many medical and public health institutions whose specific missions include fighting the obesity epidemic.

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Medical device makers rally to save their ‘go-to guy’ in Congress

With lawmakers bearing down on drug and device companies over prices, the industry can’t afford to lose any friends on Capitol Hill, writes STAT, an online news service on the medical industry.  And when it comes to medical devices, the industry might not have a better friend than Minnesota Congressman Erik Paulsen. Paulsen, a four-term Republican, has long been device makers’ “go-to guy” in Washington, helping secure a two-year delay of the Affordable Care Act’s tax on medical devices and pursuing reforms that could help the industry. But this year, Donald Trump is threatening to drag Paulsen down. So device makers are stepping in and pouring money into his campaign to save him.

Offshore Shell Games 2016 The Use of Offshore Tax Havens by Fortune 500 Companies

By Richard Phillips, Citizens for Tax Justice; Matt Gardner, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy; Kayla Kitson, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy; Alexandria Robins, U.S. PIRG Education Fund; and Michelle Surka, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

U.S.-based multinational corporations are al­lowed to play by a different set of rules than small and domestic businesses or individu­als when it comes to paying taxes. Corporate lobbyists and their congressional allies have riddled the U.S. tax code with loopholes and exceptions that enable tax attorneys and corpo­rate accountants to book U.S. earned profits to subsidiaries located in offshore tax haven coun­tries with minimal or no taxes. The most trans­parent and galling aspect of this is that often, a company’s operational presence in a tax haven may be nothing more than a mailbox. Overall, multinational corporations use tax havens to avoid an estimated $100 billion in federal in­come taxes each year.

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Tracking the Effects of Corporate Practices on Health