Orrin Hatch Signals Just How Complicated Tax Reform Will Be

Orrin Hatch Signals Just How Complicated Tax Reform Will Be

Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) speaks as the House-Senate Conferees hold an open conference meeting on the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2017.   REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
JOSHUA ROBERTS
By Yuval Rosenberg

GOP leaders said Wednesday that they'd issue a more detailed framework of their tax overhaul the week of September 25. But while lawmakers are eager to get more details about the outline being hashed out by the so-called Big Six team of negotiators, Republicans are still divided on key elements of the plan — going from blueprint to bill is bound to be a contentious process. 

In his opening remarks at a Senate Finance Committee hearing today on individual tax reform, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said the plan from the Big Six — of which he is one — "will not dictate the direction" the tax-writing committee takes. "Anyone with any experience with the Senate Finance Committee knows that we are not anyone’s rubber stamp," he said. "If a bill – particularly on something as consequential as tax reform – is going to pass in this committee, the members of the committee will have to be involved in putting it together."

Oh, and remember: Republicans also need to agree on a budget before they can push through tax reform without Democratic votes.

Number of the Day: $22 Trillion

iStockphoto/The Fiscal Times
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The total national debt surpassed $22 trillion on Monday. Total public debt outstanding reached $22,012,840,891,685.32, to be exact. That figure is up by more than $1.3 trillion over the past 12 months and by more than $2 trillion since President Trump took office.

Chart of the Week: The Soaring Cost of Insulin

Client Sanon has her finger pricked for a blood sugar test in the Family Van in Boston
REUTERS/Brian Snyder
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The cost of insulin used to treat Type 1 diabetes nearly doubled between 2012 and 2016, according to an analysis released this week by the Health Care Cost Institute. Researchers found that the average point-of-sale price increased “from $7.80 a day in 2012 to $15 a day in 2016 for someone using an average amount of insulin (60 units per day).” Annual spending per person on insulin rose from $2,864 to $5,705 over the five-year period. And by 2016, insulin costs accounted for nearly a third of all heath care spending for those with Type 1 diabetes (see the chart below), which rose from $12,467 in 2012 to $18,494. 

Chart of the Day: Shutdown Hits Like a Hurricane

An aerial view shows a neighborhood that was flooded after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina
© CHRIS KEANE / Reuters
By Michael Rainey

The partial government shutdown has hit the economy like a hurricane – and not just metaphorically. Analysts at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said Tuesday that the shutdown has now cost the economy about $26 billion, close to the average cost of $27 billion per hurricane calculated by the Congressional Budget Office for storms striking the U.S. between 2000 and 2015. From an economic point of view, it’s basically “a self-imposed natural disaster,” CRFB said. 

Chart of the Week: Lowering Medicare Drug Prices

A growing number of patients are being denied access to newer oral chemotherapy drugs for cancer pills with annual price tags of more than $75,000.
iStockphoto
By Michael Rainey

The U.S. could save billions of dollars a year if Medicare were empowered to negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies, according to a paper published by JAMA Internal Medicine earlier this week. Researchers compared the prices of the top 50 oral drugs in Medicare Part D to the prices for the same drugs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which negotiates its own prices and uses a national formulary. They found that Medicare’s total spending was much higher than it would have been with VA pricing.

In 2016, for example, Medicare Part D spent $32.5 billion on the top 50 drugs but would have spent $18 billion if VA prices were in effect – or roughly 45 percent less. And the savings would likely be larger still, Axios’s Bob Herman said, since the study did not consider high-cost injectable drugs such as insulin.