You might be paying more in co-pays than your medication actually costs.
In a new study published Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA, researchers found that out of the 9.5 million claims for prescription medication in 2013, insurance companies charged more than the base price for the drug in 2.2 million cases. Patients were overcharged for generic drugs 28 percent of the time, the study found, and for brand name drugs 6 percent of the time — for a grand total of $135 million in overpayments.
The average overpayment was only about $7.69, and only 17 percent of overpayments were for more than $10. But the extra charges are still harmful, particularly on "patients who struggle to afford their prescription drugs" in the first place, Karen Van Nuys, the lead author of the study, told Reuters.
The researchers also found that some pharmacists were barred from volunteering this price difference to patients by "gag clauses," Reuters reported. Though these contracts are outlawed in several states, the responsibility may still fall on patients to make sure they're getting the best price for their medication, as pharmacists can reveal any discrepancies if patients ask about pricing first. Read more about the study at Reuters. Shivani Ishwar
The Onion hilariously eviscerates Michael Cohen's 2013 demand to remove a 'disgusting' article about Trump
Back in 2013, before anyone suspected that Donald Trump might one day become president, satirical news outlet The Onion made fun of the reality TV host by mocking his birther claims. Even then, Trump's longtime fixer Michael Cohen was defending him behind the scenes.
The Onion on Monday finally responded to a 2013 cease-and-desist letter from Cohen regarding a satirical article about Trump, hilariously taking down the attorney for his outrage.
Earlier that year, the satirical news outlet published a piece titled "When You're Feeling Low, Just Remember I'll Be Dead In About 15 or 20 Years" and attributed it to Trump. "You can always take solace in the fact that the monstrous, unimaginable piece of s--t that is me will stop existing fairly soon," read the article. "Why, by 2020, I, a man who recently tried to extort the sitting president of the United States to release his college and passport records, might even begin to show signs of serious and unavoidable decline in mental and physical faculties."
The article did not sit well with Cohen. He called it an "absolutely disgusting piece" that went "way beyond defamation" in an email to The Onion soon after it was published. Cohen demanded that the article be removed and that the publication issue an apology. The Onion, needless to say, did not feel that necessary.
"We would be more than willing to accommodate Mr. Cohen's wishes," the outlet wrote in long-overdue response, "provided we get something in return, of course." The Onion poked fun at recent reports alleging that Cohen had accepted money in exchange for access to Trump, asking for a quid pro quo deal over the offensive article. Read the full response at The Onion. Summer Meza
You know what they say: One man's "little rocket man" is another's "supreme leader." Only in the case of President Trump, it appears the same man can be both. CNN's Jim Acosta tweeted Monday that there is a White House collectable military coin commemorating the upcoming summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un, which uses an unusually glowing title for the dictator:
There's now a White House Military Office coin for the upcoming Trump Kim Jong Un summit. The North Korean dictator is referred to as "Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un." pic.twitter.com/tFAmE813Y1
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) May 21, 2018
While putting Kim's face on a commemorative coin is shocking enough, most publications simply call Kim the "leader" of North Korea. Calling him "Supreme Leader" is a little bit like calling Idi Amin, the former president of Uganda, by his preferred title: "His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular."
Admittedly, Kim's own full title — Dear Respected Comrade Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army — probably wouldn't have fit on the coin. Jeva Lange
Street harassers beware: Whistles and catcalls could be costly.
Lawmakers in France's National Assembly passed a measure last week that would fine people who harass women up to $885, The Washington Post reports.
The bill, which still needs the approval of the French Senate to officially become law, will require people to pay on the spot if they are caught whistling at women, heckling them, or following them. Anything that "infringes the freedom of movement of women in public spaces and undermines self-esteem and the right to security" could merit a fine. Do it more than once, and street harassment could get really expensive — repeat offenders will be required to pay up to $3,500.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the measure would make France a place where "women are not afraid to be outside," reports the Post. About 90 percent of French citizens supported the measure in one recent poll, though not everyone agrees that it will be easy to enforce. About 83 percent of French women say they have been harassed on the street. Read more at The Washington Post. Summer Meza
When management of Panama City's Trump International Hotel was wrested from the Trump Organization and its silver name chiseled off the signage earlier this year, observers noted the bruising blow to the president. The sail-shaped building had been Trump's only hotel in Panama and, at 70 stories, it was the tallest tower in the country.
This last point was of particular pride to Trump, who has been known to fudge the numbers to make his buildings appear taller than they really are. Former Ambassador to Panama John Feeley recounted the story to The New Yorker:
As [Feeley] took a seat, Trump asked, "So tell me — what do we get from Panama? What's in it for us?" Feeley presented a litany of benefits: help with counter-narcotics work and migration control, commercial efforts linked to the Panama Canal, a close relationship with the current President, Juan Carlos Varela. When he finished, Trump chuckled and said, "Who knew?" He then turned the conversation to the Trump International Hotel and Tower, in Panama City. "How about the hotel?" he said. "We still have the tallest building on the skyline down there?" [The New Yorker]
Trump's ownership of the hotel has raised red flags for ethics watchdogs, and the Trump Organization reportedly asked Panama's president to get involved when its grip on the hotel started to slip. Read the full report at The New Yorker. Jeva Lange
Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo claims 'the DOJ, the FBI, the IRS, the CIA' were all conspiring to 'take down' Trump
Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo doubled down on a claim that former President Obama "masterminded" a plot to unearth disparaging information on President Trump, voicing a theory that government agencies were politically weaponized during a Monday segment on the network.
"President Obama, basically it appears to me, politicized all of his agencies: the DOJ, the FBI, the IRS, the CIA — they were all involved in trying to take down Donald Trump," said Bartiromo.
Bartiromo previously alleged that Obama or Hillary Clinton had been "masterminding" FBI surveillance of the Trump campaign, which drew criticism for promoting a conspiracy theory. When Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News judicial analyst, said that any FBI surveillance would constitute "extraordinary political use of intelligence and law enforcement by the Obama administration," Bartiromo escalated the claim, roping in multiple government agencies. Watch the full discussion below, via Fox Business Network. Summer Meza
Former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have "entered into a multi-year agreement to produce films and series for Netflix," the streaming service announced Monday. The content will "potentially" include "scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries, and features."
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the move is "unprecedented in media" and that "no previous former president has ever made such a deal," with post-White House productions typically limited to autobiographies.
In a statement, Obama said he and Michelle "hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world." Earlier this year, Obama appeared on David Letterman's Netflix talk show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. Jeva Lange
The White House has issued an informational statement echoing President Trump's controversial use of the word "animals" to describe members of the MS-13 gang. Trump's initial comments came under fire when he apparently used the dehumanizing word to describe some immigrants in sanctuary cities, although he later clarified he was using "animals" specifically to refer to violent gang members.
The press release issued Monday is titled "What you need to know about the violent animals of MS-13." The release uses eight different statements like, "In Maryland, MS-13's animals are accused of stabbing a man more than 100 times and then decapitating him, dismembering him, and ripping his heart out of his body," and "MS-13's animals reportedly saw murder as a way to boost their standing in the gang." The statement ends by vowing that "President Trump's entire administration is working tirelessly to bring these violent animals to justice."
MS-13 “animals” has gone from a presidential utterance to White House doctrine. This WH press release on “what you need to know about the violent animals of MS-13” calls them animals 8 times. pic.twitter.com/ZAfOlYjaDB
— Todd Zwillich (@toddzwillich) May 21, 2018
Writing for The Week, Paul Waldman recently argued that Trump "has used a particular strategy to justify his immigration policies: Focus on crimes committed by individual immigrants as a way of ginning up fear and hatred, creating animus toward all immigrants. And when necessary, use dehumanizing language — like calling them 'animals' — to make sure that your target audience feels no empathy or hesitation about supporting the cruelest policies to target them." Jeva Lange