Trump unveils

Trump unveils executive orders to curb prescription drug costs after Congress failed to reach a deal – Daily Mail

Unable to land the big deal with Congress to curb drug costs, President Donald Trump on Friday moved on his own to allow imports of cheaper medicines, along with other limited steps that could have some election-year appeal.

‘Nothing like this has ever been done before because Big Pharma, with its vast power, would not let it happen. Expensive Insulin went from big dollars to virtual pennies,’ Trump bragged on Twitter on Saturday. 

‘Epi-pens went from their incredibly high, jacked up prices, to lower than their original give away bargains. Biggest price reductions in history, by far!’

At a White House ceremony, Trump signed four executive orders. One was about importation. The others would direct drugmaker rebates straight to patients, provide insulin and EpiPens at steep discounts to low-income people, and use lower international prices to pay for some Medicare drugs.

Trump cast his directives as far-reaching, but they mostly update earlier administration ideas that have not yet gone into effect.

‘I’m unrigging the system that is many decades old,’ he declared at Friday’s ceremony, promising ‘massive’ savings.

President Donald J. Trump signs an executive order on lowering drug prices during a ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC on Friday

Trump cast his directives as far-reaching, but they mostly update earlier administration ideas that have not yet gone into effect

Consumers may not notice immediate changes, since the orders must be carried out by the federal bureaucracy and could face court challenges.

Democrats, meanwhile, are eager to draw a contrast between Trump and their own sweeping plans to authorize Medicare to negotiate lower prices with pharmaceutical companies, an idea the president had backed as a candidate. 

A bill by Speaker Nancy Pelosi already passed the House and aligns with presidential candidate Joe Biden’s approach.

Friday’s event was definitely not the bill-signing the White House had once hoped for. Trump came into office complaining that pharmaceutical companies were ‘getting away with murder’ and promising to bring them under control. Nearly four years later, things are much the same despite some recent moderation in price increases.

Trump pulled his punches, Pelosi said in a statement. ‘After promising that he would ‘negotiate like crazy’ for lower prescription drug prices, it is clear that President Trump meant not negotiate at all,’ she said, adding that if Trump is serious about lowering prices he should tell Senate Republicans to pass her bill.

A bill by Speaker Nancy Pelosi already passed the House and aligns with presidential candidate Joe Biden’s approach, but failed to pass the Senate

Consumers may not notice immediate changes after Trump’s orders, since the orders must be carried out by the federal bureaucracy and could face court challenges

A drive to enact major legislation this year stalled in Congress. Although Trump told Republican senators that lowering prescription prices is ‘something you have to do,’ many remain reluctant to use federal authority to force drugmakers to charge less.

Meanwhile, congressional Democrats calculate that the election will strengthen their hand, and they’ll finally be able to enact a law that authorizes Medicare to negotiate prices directly. Neither side in Congress has had an incentive to deal, and the White House has been unable to work Trump’s will.

Last year the House did pass Pelosi’s Medicare negotiations bill, which would have capped out-of-pocket drug costs for older people and expanded program benefits as well. It had no path forward in the Republican Senate, and the White House calls it unworkable.

But there was an alternative. A bipartisan Senate bill backed by Trump stopped short of giving Medicare bargaining power, but would have limited annual price increases and capped costs for older people. The bill passed out of a Senate committee but was never brought to the full body.

‘It´s not clear why the administration hasn’t made a bigger push to line up votes to get a bill through the Senate and a deal with Congress, given strong public support to lower drug costs,’ said Tricia Neuman, a Medicare expert with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Anti-diabetic medication is seen in a file photo. Americans are worried about the high cost of prescription drugs, which Trump attempted to address with his orders

Americans remain worried about drug costs, with nearly 9 in 10 saying in a recent Gallup-West Health poll that they’re concerned the pharmaceutical industry will take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to raise prices. 

Another Gallup-West Health survey found 65 percent saying the Trump administration had made little or no progress limiting increases in prescription drug costs.

It’s a particularly important issue for older people, who rely on medications to manage the medical problems associated with advancing age. Trump’s support has eroded among the elderly during the haphazard federal response to COVID-19.

Drugmakers remain adamantly opposed to government efforts to curb prices. 

Trump’s administration ‘has decided to pursue a radical and dangerous policy to set prices based on rates paid in countries that he has labeled as socialist, which will harm patients today and into the future,’ Stephen Ubl, head of the pharmaceutical lobby, said in a statement.

Trump delayed the effective date of the international pricing order for a month, to see if he can get a deal with industry.

The four orders would:

– Allow states, wholesalers and pharmacies to import FDA-approved drugs from foreign countries and sell them in the U.S. Trump has long complained that countries where the government sets the price of drugs are taking advantage of American consumers. The order includes a special provision to allow wholesalers and pharmacies to re-import insulin and biological drugs.

– Use the lowest price among other economically advanced countries to set what Medicare pays for certain drugs administered in a doctor’s office, including many cancer medications. This would apply to the most expensive medications covered by Medicare’s ‘Part B,’ which pays for outpatient care. Drugmakers are particularly leery of the approach, since Democrats want to use it more broadly to allow Medicare to directly negotiate prices.

– Direct federally funded community health centers to pass discounts they now get for insulin and EpiPens directly to low-income patients.

– Ensure that rebates drugmakers now pay to benefit managers and insurers get passed directly to patients when they buy a medication. The White House last year withdrew an earlier version of the proposal, after the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would cost taxpayers $177 billion over 10 years.

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Biden unveils

Biden unveils first general election TV ad in Texas | TheHill – The Hill

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Runoff elections in Texas, Alabama set for Tuesday Biden campaign slams White House attacks on Fauci as ‘disgusting’ Biden lets Trump be Trump MORE will tell Texans in his first general election TV ad in the Lone Star State that they are tougher than the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I’m thinking of all of you today. I know the rising case numbers is causing fear and apprehension. People are frightened,” Biden says in the minute-long ad. “They’re especially worried about their parents, their grandparents, loved ones who are most at risk.”

The former vice president also says, “This virus is tough, but Texas is tougher.”

Biden also calls on viewers to take safety precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, like wearing a mask in public spaces, socially distancing and more to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We can stop the spread, but it’s up to all of us to do it. We have to step up and do both the simple things and the hard things to keep our families and our neighbors safe. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay home if you can and socially distance when you go out,” Biden says. 

“I want every single American to know: If you’re sick, if you’re struggling, if you’re worried about how you’re going to get through the day, I will not abandon you,” Biden continues. “We’re all in this together. We’ll fight this together, and together we’ll emerge from this stronger than we were before we began.”

The ad in the Lone Star State is part of a new mid-six-figure broadcast and digital advertisement buy, CNN reported. The ad will also be customized for Arizona, Florida and North Carolina, in addition to Texas.

It will air in each of Texas’s top markets on area cable and Sunday cable shows, CNN reported. The campaign will also run a Spanish-language captioned version of the ad in Arizona, Florida and Texas online and on Univision.

The move comes as recent polls have shown Biden and President TrumpDonald John TrumpWayfair refutes QAnon-like conspiracy theory that it’s trafficking children Stone rails against US justice system in first TV interview since Trump commuted his sentence Federal appeals court rules Trump admin can’t withhold federal grants from California sanctuary cities MORE running closely in Texas. A Dallas Morning News-University of Texas Tyler poll released Sunday showed Biden leading Trump by 5 points, receiving 46 percent of the vote to Trump’s 41 percent. Biden tied with the president in Texas in a CBS News poll released Sunday.

The Trump campaign fired back on Tuesday, saying Texas is out of reach for Biden.

“Democrats like to pretend Texas is on the table, but they know that’s a joke – just ask Governor Wendy Davis, Senator Beto O’Rourke, and President Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: Wells Fargo tells employees to delete TikTok from work phones | Google, Facebook join legal challenge to ICE foreign students rule | House Republican introduces bills to bolster federal cybersecurity Biden lets Trump be Trump 4 Texas GOP congressional primary runoffs to watch MORE,” Samantha Zager, deputy national press secretary for the Trump campaign said in a statement to The Hill.

Texas, Arizona, Florida and North Carolina have all seen upticks in confirmed COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Florida health officials recorded over 15,000 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the highest single-day increase in any state across the country amid the ongoing pandemic.

Updated at 1:12 p.m.

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Theatres unveils

AMC Theatres Unveils Plans to Reopen During Coronavirus – Variety

AMC Theatres, the world’s largest exhibitor, has unveiled plans to re-open after coronavirus forced it to close its more than 600 venues in the U.S. for nearly four months.

The company is expected to resume operations in 450 of those locations on July 15 and expects to be almost fully operational by the time that Disney’s “Mulan” debuts on July 24 and Warner Bros.’ “Tenet” bows on July 31.

As part of that process, AMC is reducing its seating capacity in order to help people social distance, it is implementing new cleaning procedures, placing hand-sanitizing stations throughout its theaters and encouraging contact-less and cash-free concessions.

“We didn’t rush to reopen,” AMC CEO and president Adam Aron said in an interview with Variety. “There were some jurisdictions in some states, such as Georgia and Texas, that allowed people to reopen theaters in mid-May. We opted to remain closed, so we could give the country time to get a better handle on coronavirus. We wanted to use this time to figure out how best to open and how to do so safely.”

AMC’s competitors Regal and Cinemark announced their own plans to resume business earlier this week, targeting a similar mid-July timeframe for when they expect to be fully operational.

The exhibition sector, and particularly AMC, are under pressure to bring customers back to cinemas. Prior to coronavirus there was a great deal of consolidation in the exhibition space, much of it made possible by debt financing. AMC’s decision to acquire rivals such as Odeon Cinemas, UCI Cinemas and Carmike Cinemas left it heavily leveraged with more than $5 billion in debt. In recent filings, AMC acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic could push it into bankruptcy. Aron expressed confidence that the theater chain would be able to avoid Chapter 11 and would be able to have enough revenue to service its debt obligations.

“In my heart of hearts, I think we can manage AMC through this crisis,” said Aron. “There are no guarantees and nobody knows what coronavirus will look like in the winter or how long it will take to get a vaccine, but I can tell you that we have a very able management team here. We’re going to make every effort to make sure that AMC continues to be well positioned as a leader of the movie theater industry.”

AMC will not mandate that all guests wear masks, although employees will be required to do so. Nor will AMC perform temperature checks on customers, though it will monitor its employees’ temperatures and have them undergo screenings to check for signs of coronavirus. The situation will be different in states and cities that require residents to wear a mask when they’re in public, but Aron said that AMC was wary of wading into a public health issue that has become politicized.

“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” said Aron. “We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary. We think that the vast majority of AMC guests will be wearing masks. When I go to an AMC feature, I will certainly be wearing a mask and leading by example.”

AMC will also sell masks for a dollar to guests who forgot to bring one. Both Cinemark and Regal are encouraging guests to wear masks, but not requiring it in states and areas where it is not mandated.

As it worked to establish and implement new procedures, AMC partnered with The Clorox Company, and current and former faculty of Harvard University’s School of Public Health. On their advice, the theater chain said that it is going to lean heavily on technological solutions such as deploying electrostatic sprayers, HEPA vacuums and upgraded MERV 13 ventilation filters, which would eliminate airborne particles and reduce the chance that COVID-19 will spread.

Other procedures being implemented include cleaning auditoriums between each showtime and allowing extra time between screenings for disinfection; blocking out every other row of seats to decrease congestion; pushing guests to use online ticketing and kiosks to limit interactions with staff, and designating various points within theaters for one-way foot traffic.

AMC said it plans to increase capacity in its theaters in stages. At first, AMC will only make available 30% of capacity in every showtime. Over time, that will increase to 40% and then 50% capacity. AMC hopes that it will be able to have half of its auditoriums full by Labor Day and projects that it will be at full capacity by Thanksgiving. The reopening is taking place as cases of coronavirus are falling sharply in former epicenters such as New York, but rising in other states such as Florida and Arizona.

In order to educate theater-goers about the new measures, AMC is participating in an industry-wide marketing push that’s been orchestrated by talent agency CAA and overseen by former Imax Entertainment chief Greg Foster. The company is planning its own promotional efforts, as well.

“Tenet,” Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller, had originally hoped to kick off moviegoing when it opened on July 17. Last week, Warner Bros., the studio behind the film, announced that “Tenet” would be delayed until July 31. Aron expressed confidence that “Tenet” won’t be postponed again.

“They tell me they’re holding that date,” he said.

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Trump unveils

Trump unveils ‘warp-speed’ effort to create coronavirus vaccine by year’s end – The Guardian

Donald Trump has announced details of a “warp-speed” effort to create a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, even as experts warn that such a breakthrough could take longer than 18 months.

During remarks in the White House Rose Garden on Friday that had to compete with honking from protesting truck drivers, however, the US president also urged schools to reopen in the autumn and insisted: “Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back.”

Unveiling details of “Operation Warp Speed”, a name that references a concept popularised by Star Trek and other science fiction, Trump said: “That means big and it means fast. A massive scientific, industrial and logistical endeavour unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project.”

He added: “Its objective is to finish developing and then manufacture and distribute a proven coronavirus vaccine as fast as possible. Again, we’d love to see if we can do it prior to the end of the year.”

Standing just behind him, Anthony Fauci, an infectious diseases expert wearing a face mask, cast his glance down and reached to adjust his tie. Trump did not wear a face mask.

In testimony to Congress on Tuesday, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned: “There’s no guarantee that the vaccine is actually going to be effective.”

And on Thursday Rick Bright, the ousted head of a government agency seeking a vaccine, told Congress: “Normally, it takes up to 10 years to make a vaccine. A lot of optimism is swirling around a 12-to-18-month time frame, if everything goes perfectly. We’ve never seen everything go perfectly.”

Trump said the government would invest in all the top vaccine candidates and said a list had been narrowed to 14 promising possibilities with a plan to narrow further. The initiative will work with the US military and other countries, accelerate the typical regulatory process and mobilise to get a vaccine distributed once one is in place.

“There’s never been a vaccine project anywhere in history like this,” he continued, in what appeared to be a break from the script, slicing the air with his right hand. “And I just want to make something clear. It’s very important. Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back and we’re starting the process and, in many cases, they don’t have vaccines and a virus or a flu comes and you fight through it.”

Moncep Slaoui, a former chairman of vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline who will lead the multibillion-dollar programme, expressed optimism that progress is being made.

“I have very recently seen early data from a clinical trial with a coronavirus vaccine,” he said. “These data made me feel even more confident that we will be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of a vaccine by the end of 2020.”

Gen Gustave Perna, a four-star general in charge of the army’s logistics and supply chain operation, will be the chief operating officer. Three career scientists will oversee each area of Operation Warp Speed.

‘That’s the sign of love’: Trump claims truckers’ disruptive honking is ‘in favour’ of him – video

Alex Azar, the health secretary, described it as “a dream team” and said: “We’ll use all of our regulatory tools to bring a vaccine available for the entire American population by January.”

The current US death toll is 86,000, with 1.4m confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. With various states already reopening, Trump promised the US economy would roar back. And answering questions from reporters, he insisted: “I think the schools should be back in the fall.”

Asked if he has concerns about students or teachers bringing the virus home to their families, Trump replied: “I’m concerned about everything. And I’m also concerned about our country. Our country has to get back.”

The shutdown itself causes massive depression, drugs, suicide and other problems that lead to death, he added. “We have a great plan to prevent the spread, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to close our country for five years, OK? Not going to happen.”

Fauci warned Congress this week of “really serious’ problems” if states ignore federal guidelines and move too quickly. He also said officials should not be “cavalier” about the virus’s impact on children.

Neither Fauci nor response coordinator Deborah Birx spoke at the event. Last month both were regular contributors to the daily press briefing.

Many administration officials in the garden wore face masks but the president did not. Trump and other speakers had to compete with a noisy chorus of horns from truckers who, he claimed, were protesting in his favour, describing it as a “sign of love”.

Joe Lockhart, a former White House press secretary, tweeted: “There is not an objective scientist on TV right now that believes anything that was said at the press conference who believes anything like this can be done by the end of the year. Caveat, I’m not watching Fox.”

In what may have been mere coincidence, Trump announced Operation Warp Speed on the same day that he was presented with the new space force flag in the Oval Office.

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