Posted by 09 December 2019
There has long been a move to do something about the price of drugs. This week, the House of Representatives is considering legislation that its sponsors claim will help make pharmaceuticals more affordable.
The House will debate H.R. 3 this week. Here is how VoteSpotter describes the bill:
To permit the federal government to negotiate drug prices that the Medicare program will pay for certain drugs, such as insulin. The maximum price for such drugs could not exceed 120% of the average price of such drugs in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom, or 85% of the average manufacturers' price in the U.S. This set price would also be applicable to private insurance companies unless those companies opted out.
Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices has long been a goal of liberal lawmakers and interest groups. They say that the federal government should be able to work with drug companies to bring down the price that Medicare pays for the drugs it covers. Not being able to do so, they claim, forces taxpayers to pay whatever price drug companies demand.
Opponents of this legislation point out that it is not about negotiating. They argue that the federal government is such a large player in the field of drug purchases that it will set rates, not negotiate them. They note that the legislation forbids paying prices above certain rates. This bill is about imposing price controls, not allowing negotiation. This, they argue, will lead to fewer drugs being developed in the U.S.
Given the Democratic control of the House of Representatives, this legislation is likely to pass. However, the chances for Senate consideration are slim.
Do you think the federal government should be able to negotiate the prices of drugs it covers through Medicare, and set a cap on prices it deems too high?