What We're Reading: Insurers Plan to Manufacture Drugs; Trump Hints at Cutting Medicare; China Quarantines Wuhan

January 23, 2020

A group of 18 health plans announce they will manufacture generic drugs; President Trump hints at cutting Medicare funding; the Chinese government quarantines a city of 11 million in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Health Insurers Plan to Manufacture Their Own Drugs

To lower prices, a group of US health insurers announced they would begin manufacturing versions of generic medications to compete with pharmaceutical companies, the Los Angeles Times reports. The effort will not impact prices of typically expensive branded pharmaceuticals, which is the largest contributor to US drug spending. The group consists of 18 Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans and covers about 40 million Americans. They have pledged $55 million to combat the problem and have not disclosed which drugs will be manufactured. Civica Rx, a nonprofit based in Utah, will partner with the group.

Trump Hints at Cutting Medicare and Other Entitlement Programs

During his 2016 campaign, then-candidate Trump vowed to protect entitlement programs. Now, President Trump, if elected for a second term, says he would consider making cuts in order to reduce the federal deficit, The New York Times reports. The president made these remarks while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. When asked by a reporter from CNBC whether he would consider cuts, the President replied, “At the right time, we will take a look at that.” The president was unclear as to which parts of Medicare he would potentially cut, but his most recent budget proposal called for a total of $1.9 trillion in cost savings from safety-net programs.

China Seals Off Wuhan, Quarantining 11 Million People

China is trying to halt the spread of a new respiratory infection caused by a coronavirus that has taken the lives of 17, and sickened more than 500, The New York Times reports. The move is without precedent, according to experts. As a disease prevention measure, the tactic of quarantining is centuries old, however, the scale of the shutdown is “an unbelievable undertaking,” said Howard Markel, MD, PhD, a professor of the history of medicine at the University of Michigan. In addition, residents of Huanggang, a city of 7 million about 30 miles east of Wuhan, will not be able to leave the city unless granted special permission.