For Whom Do Democrats Seek Lower Drug Costs?

Americans frustrated with the high out-of-pocket costs of drugs may be tempted to support what, until recently, a proposal promoted only by the most left-wing Democrats – for politicians to Politicians and officials dictate the price and availability of drugs for Medicare beneficiaries. But note who will benefit under the Democrats’ plan. It is not the patient.

Many people have written in these pages about why using Medicare to price drugs is a terrible idea. It is essentially a form of price control that will drain private sector investment in the research and development of new drugs — and ultimately put officials in charge of whether the elderly can get coverage or even access to medications that their doctor believes is best for them.

Despite these dangers to the elderly and other patients, Democrats are doubling down, possibly because they think it’s good politics. Polls show widespread support for the idea that the government “negotiates” drug prices. But that appeal was based on a lie.

Americans are right to be angry about what they are paying for drugs. Out-of-pocket costs can vary widely between pharmacies and change dramatically based on behind-the-scenes negotiations between the pharmacy benefit manager and the drug manufacturer. Additionally, seniors face the complexity of a Medicare-covered “donut hole,” in which their out-of-pocket costs can rise even further.

To the dismay of the public, it’s not surprising that Democrats marketed their plan as a way to lower drug costs. But for whom?

Democrats’ plans for the government to negotiate drug prices do not set aside all of the reduced Medicare spending to reduce out-of-pocket costs for seniors. Democrats want to redirect that money to pay for unrelated spending priorities. In fact, drug price negotiation was included as a payment in the Build Back Better bill to help make it seem like the massive spending package won’t increase the deficit.

All told, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Democratic bill would redirect $266 billion in Medicare spending to pay for other programs if passed into law. Taking a quarter of a trillion dollars out of an already stressful Medicare program would be a disaster for seniors. Thankfully, that reconciliation bill never passed the Senate.

But in March, Senator Joe Manchin revived the plan to negotiate Medicare prices, insisting that the money supposedly saved should be used for priorities other than Medicare. Again, be aware of what is known as uncommitted savings: reducing the amount seniors pay for their medications.

Ultimately, under the Democrats plan, billions of so-called savings that benefit seniors will be redirected to fund unrelated spending priorities and create limits. new potential approach in this process. The CBO predicts fewer new medical breakthroughs as R&D investments dry up due to government pricing plans.

If congressional libertarians really want to reduce out-of-pocket drug costs, they will support anti-drug reforms advocated by the Trump administration and many Republicans in Congress. This would require savings negotiated between the PBM and drug manufacturers to go directly to seniors by calculating a discount when determining cost-sharing amounts. Currently, patients are often charged based on the label price of the drug rather than the price negotiated between the manufacturer and the PBM.

Requiring the elderly to save to discourage Democrats from spending elsewhere shows, once again, that Democrats care more about government expansion than about the American people.

So the next time Democrats say they want to lower drug prices, ask yourself – for whose benefit?

Gingrich, a Republican, served as speaker of the House, 1995-99, and is the president of Gingrich 360, a consulting and production firm that advises companies and organizations in the healthcare industry. health care.

Review & Outlook: After leaking a draft majority opinion from the Supreme Court that would overturn Roe and Wade, Democrats see an opportunity to divert public attention away from the cost of living. increased activity. Photo: Bloomberg Summary: Mark Kelly

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