What We're Reading: The ACA Fails the Working Poor

What we're reading, January 5, 2016: A special report highlights how the working poor slip through the cracks of the Affordable Care Act; the FDA approved 51 drugs in 2015 with nearly half being first-in-class; and the Senate is expected to vote on President Obama's nomination for FDA commissioner next Tuesday.

Millions of Americans, the working poor, remain uninsured, especially if they live in one of the 20 states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid. A special report from USA Today examined how the Affordable Care Act affects these individuals and found that companies are getting around paying for insurance for workers by hiring contract workers. In addition, up to 20% of businesses have cut or plan to cut workers’ hours in order to avoid paying for their health benefits.

In 2015, the FDA approved 51 new drugs, which is the largest number since 1950. Notably, among those drugs approved were 20 first-in-class drugs. However, Forbes points out that this number from the FDA may be conservative, as 4 other drugs should merit first-in-class recognition. Including those drugs—Farydak, Unituxin, Kybella, and Natpara—would mean 47% of the drugs the FDA approved in 2015 were first-in-class.

On Tuesday, January 12, the Senate health committee will vote on President Obama’s nominee, Robert Califf, MD, to be the commissioner of the FDA. During hearings, some voiced concerns about his connections with drug companies. In particular, Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) said he would oppose the nomination. However, for the most part, Dr Califf’s nomination is expected to easily be approved, reported The Hill.