KEY TAKEAWAY: Anger over healthcare costs is not going to lead to workable solutions yet the media is generating anger via headlines that fail to adequately communicate the complexity and greed that has become the American healthcare system.
The headline in the news story is sure to fan the flames of anger “183 Republicans vote against making prescription drugs cheaper. Republicans claim to be in favor of reducing prescription drug costs, but their vote against the measure shows they care more about siding with Trump’s efforts to sabotage the health care of millions of Americans”.
Reading this story is going to make a lot of people angry but what Americans need is not anger they need workable solutions to help contain the greed of healthcare companies.
There are many proposals to lower the cost of prescription drugs. One of the proposals is to reduce or eliminate rebates drug companies pay to insurers. But it comes at a cost according to the CBO. “The CBO’s analysis reinforces the fact that the Rebate Rule is a misguided regulation that will hurt American patients and taxpayers,” said CSRxP executive director Lauren Aronson. “The proposed rule hits seniors, the disabled and taxpayers with premium hikes and nearly $200 billion in federal spending without any guarantee it will curb rising drug prices.”
The CBO budget projections concluded the impact of the Rule would include:
- $187 Billion in Additional Federal Spending. That total includes an estimated $177 billion price tag for Medicare and Medicaid under the initially proposed rule, plus an estimated $10 billion cost for the loss-assumption program announced by CMS on April 5, 2019. (Congressional Budget Office, Incorporating The Effects Of The Proposed Rule On Safe Harbors For Pharmaceutical Rebates In CBO’s Budget Projections, 5/2/19)
- Increased Premiums for Part D Beneficiaries. CBO found that if “rebates were no longer paid directly to plans, Part D premiums would rise.” (Congressional Budget Office, Incorporating The Effects Of The Proposed Rule On Safe Harbors For Pharmaceutical Rebates In CBO’s Budget Projections, 5/2/19)
- Added Costs and Premium Hikes to Remake the System. The CBO also concluded “that no current system could both meet the proposed rule’s standards” to facilitate up-front price discounts on prescription drugs. CBO estimates the cost of remaking the system to accommodate volume-based discounts would increase premiums for Part D beneficiaries by an additional percent. (Congressional Budget Office, Incorporating The Effects Of The Proposed Rule On Safe Harbors For Pharmaceutical Rebates In CBO’s Budget Projections, 5/2/19)
Then there is the threat of Trump’s executive order. President Donald Trump said Friday he’s preparing an executive order declaring a “favored nations clause” for drug prices, where the U.S. will pay no more than the country with the lowest prescription drug prices.
This if course won’t work because it’s unconstitutional and would easily be overturned in court.
I understand that patients are angry at the high cost of healthcare. They should be but we can’t allow that anger to cloud our judgement in finding workable solutions. For a start pharma companies have to make it easier for patients, who can’t afford prescription drugs, to get them at little or no cost. Their current method is too complex for people that need help.
We’re in a season of too many promises by politicians hoping to score points with voters. The American public deserves workable solutions not threats.