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Update on Regulatory Takings Initiatives

As we detailed a few weeks ago, rightwing developers are using the cover of "fixing" eminent domain to push radical anti-environment initiatives on ballots across the country. Opponents ranging from outdoor sports organizations to labor unions have been mobilizing in response.

Cutting Health Care Costs: Ending Fraud, Profiteering and the Costs of Fragmented Systems

When people hear about drug companies buying up data on which doctors are prescribing prescription drugs, as we discussed in Thursday's Dispatch, they worry about their medical privacy. But when drug companies use that data to market unneeded drugs, consumers should be even more worried about how that and other shady dealings in the medical field are driving up health costs. When New Hampshire became the first state to ban "data mining" of prescription drug records, Representative Cindy Rosenwald (D-Nashua) saw the bill as a chance to "curb the ever-increasing cost of prescription drugs.”?

Reining in Prescription Drug Costs

The last few years have seen a cascade of books and reports detailing the waste and obscene profits of the prescription drug industry.  Even as they rake in large profits, most of their spending goes to marketing, advertising, and administration-- rather than research and development of new drugs as their public relations claims.

Eliminating Fraud and Doctor Conflicts of Interests

States are also stepping up to root out fraud and self-dealing by doctors and hospitals:

 

Accountability and Efficiency in Medical Services

In a system where profits, not patient health, is the top priority of many health care providers, states are beginning to develop "pay for performance" incentives and promoting other innovations to hold providers more broadly accountable.

 

Cost Savings from an Integrated Health Care System

That fragmentation of the health care system lies at the root of much of the waste and fraud in our health care system.   Each player tries to pump up profits and often waste through excessive billing of third parties. Each party avoids taking responsibility by shifting the increased costs onto government or other third party providers. Short-term profiteering means long term investments in preventive care or technology gets shortchanged.

Target's Tax Subsidies Under Scrutiny After Chicago Living Wage Fight

Target management apparently didn't get the memo. Faced with stagnating wages and increasing inequality, American workers and taxpayers are waking up to the big box gambit where irresponsible employers subsidize their low wages through favorable tax packages. When Target threatened to stop opening new stores in Chicago if the Windy City gave final approval to its ordinance requiring a living wage for retail workers (see this Dispatch for more details), it opened up a new debate over why cities are offering low-wage retail stores tax subsidies in the first place. As a new report produced by the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group documents, Target received $9.9 million in tax-increment financing (TIF) to subsidize its existing stores in Chicago.

Waste and Abuse in Homeland Security Contracts

A followup to Monday's Dispatch on waste and corruption in privatization of government services: it turns out that Accenture, the company that screwed up in taking over Texas's human services computer systems, is also a star player in a new Congressional report, Waste, Abuse, and Mismanagement of Homeland Security Contracts.

Prescription Drug Data for Sale

Here's a shocking fact. When doctors prescribe prescription drugs, the big drug companies get access to data on which doctors are prescribing which drugs to patients. Pharmaceutical companies then load the data up on sales reps' laptop computers to help figure out which doctors are the best targets for their next sales pitch.

Stopping Privatization Profiteering

A number of state leaders have been promoting what seems like a free lunch. Hand over control of government services to private industry and those companies promise better service at a lower price. Like most promises of a free lunch, privatization has mostly ended up being a deceptive boondoggle, a point the non-partisan news sourceStateline.org emphasized this past week: