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What We're Reading: Is the GOP Eyeing Changes to Medicare, Too?


What we're reading, January 4, 2017: Republicans in Congress may also make changes to Medicare; churches and faith-based organizations launch syringe exchanges; and judge rules Amgen's PCSK9 patent is valid.

Repealing and replacing Obamacare is definitely on the list for Republican lawmakers, and so is a possible privatization of veterans’ medical care, and even an overhaul of Medicaid. Now, the Miami Herald is reporting that Medicare could also face changes from the Republican-controlled Congress. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been a proponent of moving to a voucher system in Medicare. Others like the idea of subsidies to purchase private plans. Democrats will fight moves to change Medicare, and they may have an unlikely ally in President-elect Donald J. Trump, who said on the campaign trail that he wouldn’t change retirement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Churches and faith-based organizations that have supported syringe exchange programs sometimes launch their own. These programs are useful in combatting the opioid epidemic and the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C. According to STAT, there are no hard numbers, but more and more faith-based organizations are becoming directly involved in syringe exchanges and running them along with soup kitchens, temporary shelters, and other outreach ministries.

Sanofi and Regeneron lost their bid to overturn a verdict upholding 2 Amgen patents related to the cholesterol drug Repatha. A federal judge refused to throw out a court verdict from March that found Amgen’s patents valid, reported Reuters. Amgen brought the lawsuit in October 2014, claiming Praluent, sold by Sanofi and Regeneron, infringed on Amgen’s patents related to the PCSK9 protein. Damages have yet to be set and the presiding judge has to decide if she will block Sanofi and Regeneron from selling Praluent. Sanofi and Regeneron plan to appeal.

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