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Government Price-Setting Is Not the Answer

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Making sure that medicines are accessible and affordable for patients is a goal we all share. But Congress is considering a dangerous proposal that could jeopardize the development of lifesaving medicines, vaccines, and treatments. The proposal calls for implementation of a government price-setting model that could undermine Medicare protections that provide patients robust choice and access to the medicines they need.

The proposal would allow the government to dictate the price of medicines for Medicare. This misguided policy would repeal a key provision of the Medicare Part D program — the noninterference clause — that protects coverage and access to medicines for seniors and people with disabilities. Taking away this protection risks patients’ access to medicines and could sacrifice future medical advances.

Here are some major problems with government price-setting:

  • It puts innovation at risk. Recent research found that price control legislation would lower projected funding for biomedical research and development by more than $660 billion in the next decades. That could result in 135 fewer new drug approvals and a potential loss of more than 331 million life years — roughly 31 times the toll inflicted by the pandemic in the United States as of last November.
     
  • It threatens the U.S. healthcare advantage. Patients who live in countries with policies like the one proposed often experience significant delays in accessing new treatments. We can’t allow government interference to put patients’ lives at risk.
     
  • It overpromises. According to one proposal, fewer than 1% of seniors on Medicare would see reduced out-of-pocket costs. In fact, some experts estimate that the proposal might even increase insurance premiums for seniors.

Government price-setting could result in serious consequences for patients and the U.S. healthcare system. To lower healthcare costs, Congress should reject government price-setting proposals and support real solutions to make medicines more affordable and accessible, such as capping annual out-of-pocket costs under Medicare Part D.