Regardless of what the media would have you believe, there are many issues where Republicans and Democrats work together on quality legislation in a bipartisan fashion. One example of this bipartisanship has been our work to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Both parties agree that this is an issue that needs to be addressed, and until last week, we had worked together to pass strong bipartisan legislation through Congress that does just that.
During the previous Congress, we worked together to speed up the closing of the Medicare Part D “Donut Hole”, saving seniors more money on their prescriptions. This year, the Energy & Commerce Committee passed eight bills that provide more transparency in drug pricing, speed the development of generic drugs, and lower costs for beneficiaries. I commend both my Democratic and Republican colleagues for working in a bipartisan manner to make these bills a reality.
To be sure, more needs to be done to lower drug costs. Democrats and Republicans on the Committee were negotiating a plan in good faith until Speaker Pelosi handed down her plan from on high, casting all of our bipartisan work aside in the name of politics.
Her radical proposal would impose price controls for 250 drugs selected by the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary. The prices would be based at 1.2 times the prices in six other countries. HHS would then ‘negotiate’ a price below this reference price, to be determined entirely by the HHS Secretary. Manufacturers will then have to offer that price in the private market and Medicare. If a drug manufacturer declines to accept the price, then the federal government will confiscate 95% of all gross revenue from the drug.
This heavy-handed government intervention will stifle innovation and limit access to life-saving medications. We know this because that’s what has happened in the countries that have set these same government price controls. We’ve heard story after story of patients in these countries being denied care because lifesaving drugs aren’t available. New cancer drugs are delayed by as much as two years in these countries. On average, 54% of new drugs introduced since 2011 are available in these same countries. It’s 100% in the United States.
The United States leads the world in pharmaceutical research and development, but that wasn’t always the case. Before many European countries imposed these price schemes, Europe actually beat the United States in research and development by almost 25%. Now, the United States leads Europe by 40%. Manufacturers simply won’t develop new medicines in areas of high risk. It’s what happened in Europe, and it’ll happen here if we impose the same government takeover.
I fully support lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and there is no question that Congress needs to work to lower prices. What I do not support is a heavy-handed government takeover, which is precisely what this proposal is. Republicans and Democrats need to come together to craft and support legislation that reduces overall costs, encourages innovation, and promotes competition.
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