What We're Reading: Bernie Sanders Supports California's Drug Price Control Measure

What we’re reading, October 14, 2016: Senator Bernie Sanders will speak in support of a California bill that would require the state to pay less for prescription drugs; HHS reaches out to consumers ahead of open enrollment period; and CDC warns that contaminated heart surgery devices could cause severe infections.

California Proposition 61, the Drug Price Standards Initiative, will have an influential proponent rallying support for it in Los Angeles this afternoon: Senator Bernie Sanders, who has also appeared in TV ads encouraging Californians to vote yes on the measure. Proposition 61 would require that the state purchase all prescription drugs at or below the price paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which pays the lowest of any federal agency for prescription medications. Because the measure does not force the drug companies to cut their prices, the state would have to negotiate with them to get the drugs for less.

HHS is beginning a targeted outreach toward consumers in an attempt to boost participation in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health exchanges. The "#GetCovered" campaign will use television commercials, social media ads, and 10 million direct mailings to promote the open enrollment period, which starts on November 1. Observers have voiced concerns that Republicans’ election season criticism of the ACA may have tarnished consumer perceptions of the law and its healthcare plans.

The CDC has issued a warning about a possibly contaminated device used in open heart surgery that poses a risk of serious infection. Tests revealed that the bacteria found in the infected patients was a match for the Mycobacterium chimaera bacteria found on some of LivaNova’s Stöckert 3T heater-cooler devices. Officials say the devices, which help maintain the temperature of a patient’s blood and organs during heart surgery, may have been contaminated during manufacturing.