THIS WEEK IN TARBELL
CVS Caremark rejected a patient’s appeal to receive a prescribed drug after the doctor conducting the appeal tried to contact her prescribing physician’s office three times – at the customer service line at Playtex.
This week, reporter Michael Corcoran — with the help of one steadfast patient who recorded her conversation with CVS — investigated the strange, ridiculous world of prescription denials and appeals and how the pharmaceutical benefits manager (PBM) system sometimes fails patients dramatically.
Plus, members should join us tomorrow at 12pm EDT for a conversation about Tuesday’s Senate Finance Committee hearing about PBMs, and whether their consolidating power is getting in the way of patient needs.
If you’re a member, check your email or the Tarbell Members Facebook Group for the call-in information. And if you’re not, consider joining the Tarbell Member community to participate in this chat and future dialogues!
Meanwhile, Tarbell Founder Wendell Potter has been touring North Carolina this week, and amid his travels he joined WUNC’s Frank Stasio discuss his experience in the health industry, and how his well-paid work eventually soured and led him to leave the industry and advocate for Medicare For All.
NOTABLE REPORTING AND SOLUTIONS
Adding to coverage of the Senate Finance Committee hearing with PBM execs, FiercePharma dissects the ways PBMs have been making their concerns heard on the Hill.
Congress is all set to stop the IRS from ever creating a free system for filing taxes — fulfilling TurboTax’s long-sought lobbying goal.
The House Financial Service Committee is purportedly aiming to hold megabanks accountable. But that team is compromised of 10 megabank stockholders, potentially owning as much as $1.6 million in stock among them.
The White House is showing its bias in hires once again: the Trump administration is considering bringing Julie Kircher, the former executive director of the anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform, on board as deputy director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The Texas Democrat who’s friendly with the NRA and championing Trump’s new North American trade deal has found himself targeted by an AOC-aligned progressive group.
Axios rounds up the salaries for the top health care company executives, and their collective salaries dwarf the CDC’s $157 million budget for chronic disease prevention.
Spotlight on state influence
Despite his fervent denial that he ordered permits for the Mariner East 2 pipeline, a Guardian investigation shows that Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf was instrumental in fast-tracking the pipeline that’s now under criminal investigation for pollution and property damage.
Tickets to an Ole Miss game at the Sugar Bowl seemed pretty effective at winning Mississippi lawmakers’ hearts. The Clarion-Ledger exposed the nearly $2 million in lobbying and gifts that eight Mississippi public universities showered on their state legislators.