ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 136, AUGUST 26, 2016

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 136 AUGUST 26, 2016   NBR reports that Mylan, manufacturer of the epipen (epinephrine in a tube), has raised the price 400% since 2008 because prices have “changed over time to better reflect improved product features and the value the product provides”.  (Nightly Business Report, August 22, 2016.)  A Wells Fargo analyst estimated that 60% of the price of the epipens is profit, as the ephedrine must cost less than $1 per dose. This “value the product provides” is code for “who ever knew people would pay so much for an unpatented product?  (Dear Consumer: pay up or watch your kid die.”)  The FDA and federal government have been stringent in licensing competitors but current law prevents Medicare from negotiating drug prices .  Senators Amy Klubochar and Grassley have called for hearings regarding the epipens. Rubbing salt in a wound, Mylan recently did an “inversion” under which they were bought by a smaller company in the Netherlands so Mylan’s taxes are primarily, if not totally, paid in the Netherlands. Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is the daughter of Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who blames “the system” which needs to be “fixed.”  Every few months another drug, even generic, comes to light which is rarely used but serves a vulnerable that simply cannot live without it.  Surprisingly, even the NBR co-host complained about the costs of buying epipens for her children. This incident illustrates some of the real problems in our health care system today; pricing power is unlimited and without moral compass; companies migrate overseas to pay lower taxes, and companies gladly benefit from the U.S. legal...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 135, AUGUST 19, 2016

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 135 AUGUST 19, 2016   OBAMACARE to lose major provider, Aetna, amid questions arising whether Aetna’s resignation from Obamacare are payback for refusal of feds to allow Aetna to merger with another health care insurer, as Aetna claims resignation from Obamacare is due to “higher than expected costs”.  (Los Angeles Times, August 17, 2016.) FIDELITY Investments study concludes 65 years old Medicare eligible couple will spend $245,000 of their own money on healthcare over the course of the rest of their lives.  This estimate does not include costs of long-term (nursing home or assisted living facility), care.  (Cited in Morningstar Fund Investor, August, 2016.) MANDATORY water cuts lifted for most CA counties, on assurances by water districts there is enough water even if next 3 years are unusually dry.  (Los Angeles Times, August 17, 2016.) IF Clinton wins the presidency she will likely seek to alter the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership to make it more acceptable to labor and the left, since exports account for 12% of U.S. production and 11.5 M jobs.  (The Kiplinger Letter, August 5, 2016.) 4 members of the U.S. Olympic swim team were allegedly robbed at gunpoint, but the Brazilian government claims it has documentation that no robbery occurred, but the athletes only made up a cover story after drunkenly vandalizing a gas station.  A spokesperson for the Olympics Committee attempted to excuse the alleged behavior while not denying it.  (KPPC radio, August 18, 2016.) NATIONAL Atmospheric and Space Administration (NASA), predicts every inch of the U.S. to have higher than normal temperatures in August, September and October…. [Further], a NASA scientist stated to...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 134, AUGUST 12, 2016

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 134 AUGUST 12, 2016   FLINT City, where government officials chose to save $100 a day by using water with high lead content, will likely never be the same.  At least 3 state and city workers now face felony charges.  (Gary Ridley, Twitter, April 20, 2016.) Even if all are convicted and given maximum sentences, who will repair the brains of children who were “negligently” poisoned?  Who will make up the lost productivity and earnings of these children as they mature into the workforce, and their lack of understanding in school beforehand?  Should these 3 be given life sentences helping those injured by the decision to add lead to the drinking water?  If so, would it matter? Lawyers are taught there is a remedy for every wrong, but here, as in many environmental crimes there is not a remedy because we cannot undo the past. AS costs increase in China manufacturing will return to the U.S., according to The Kiplinger Letter (July 29, 2016.)  The publication also notes that automation may enable manufacturers to replace many jobs formerly done by unskilled labor. WHO killed our factory jobs?  According to Daniel Griswold in Los Angeles Times it wasn’t outsourcing, but automation.  Although U.S. factory output has increased 40% in value over the last 2 decades, as fewer workers make more technology-intense products.  Trade accounted for 13% of job losses.  (The WEEK, August 12, 2016.)  Bruce Springsteen understood this years ago “these jobs are going boys, and they ain’t coming back… to my hometown..” METROLINK Expo line just opened and already there is a shortage of train cars.  Seems Californians...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 133, AUGUST 5, 2016

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 133 AUGUST 5, 2016 CFPB, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created by the Dodd-Frank Act, is considering overhauling rules governing collection agencies, including a requirement that collectors have better information about debts they try to collect (collectors have been known to attempt collection of both stale debts and debts that have been paid), limit communications, and make it easier to dispute the debt.  (email from CFPB, July 29, 2016.) My own experience is that after going back and forth with an arm of a major U.S. investment firm almost a year for a client expecting funds in the amount of approximately $50,000, I wrote the Bureau.  After that, I couldn’t get rid of the people who had ignored my calls, as they were suddenly anxious to complete the necessary paperwork and pass the funds to my client. BY the end of 2016, 69% of metro areas of all sizes are expected to exceed the number of jobs they had before the real estate bubble burst in 2009.  (The Kiplinger Letter, July 22, 2016.) 2 new ETFs (exchange traded funds), may enable investors to purchase shares that track the value of the digital currency, similar to ETFs that monitor the value of gold.  (The Kiplinger Letter, July 22, 2016.) These new funds will, in effect, allow investors to profit from the questionable currency that is the preferred currency on the dark web, where it is used to purchase drugs, weapons and perhaps even human trafficking, without going to the dark side, themselves. This story is reminiscent of Purdue Pharma, the company that sold massive quantities of oxycontin without questioning where...