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Here's how Biden team plans to raise cost of prescription drugs for all Americans

OpinionHere's how Biden team plans to raise cost of prescription drugs for all Americans

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America’s unique free-market system has enabled the production of health care services and products for its citizens that are second-to-none, but misguided and foolish thinking at the government level now threatens to make drug prices unaffordable for families and senior citizens.  

By targeting pharmacy benefit managers (PBM’s), the Federal Trade Commission will advance the Biden administration’s war on American business, expand government power, and raise drug costs for all Americans. Rather than go along with the FTC’s policies that will hurt patients and families, Congress should step in and put a stop to it. 

Pharmacy benefit managers have long played a crucial role in keeping drug prices down. Indeed, our free-market health care system only works for consumers, patients and families if the various players are able to negotiate and compete, which is what ultimately allows patients access to lower prices. 

Biden and FTC chief

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra and Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan listen as President Biden speaks about the economy in the South Auditorium of the White House campus on Oct. 26, 2022. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

PBMs do just that: By negotiating with drug manufacturers, they secure lower drug prices for insurance companies so that patients and families win. As someone who ran two small businesses in Kansas, I know the value this kind of service can provide. 

BIDEN’S NEW PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICE PLAN WILL ONLY BENEFIT YOU KNOW WHO

This is why employers, health plans, unions and even government plans like Medicare and Medicaid choose to hire PBMs – because they are very effective at negotiating with drug manufacturers to secure savings for those drugs. Indeed, nearly every employer in America today hires a PBM, and more than 275 million Americans receive their pharmacy benefits through one of 70 or so companies that offer these services. 

We should be clear about this: Without PBMs, prescription drug costs for families would skyrocket. That is why I have and will continue to oppose new and unnecessary government regulations in this space, whether it’s ObamaCare and government-run health care, or efforts to hamstring PBMs in the market.

Unfortunately, the Federal Trade Commission under Commissioner Lina Khan has been dedicated to expanding government authority, implementing the Biden administration’s radical agenda that makes life worse and more costly for Americans at all levels. These efforts are supported by mainstream media outlets, with anecdotal reporting driving a narrative unmoored from reality. 

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION SAYS MEDICARE OWED REBATES FOR DRUG PRICES THAT OUTPACED INFLATION

For example, The New York Times recently published a concerningly slanted report asserting that PBMs inflate drug prices, while mischaracterizing contracting and payment options that employers choose and value. Conspicuously absent from the piece is the fact that PBMs have no control over pricing. In fact, new data from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science found the list prices, which are not set by PBMs, increased nearly 5% in 2023.

The inflation brought on by the Biden administration’s disastrous economic policies, coupled by a renewed push by Democrats to raise taxes and reverse the Trump-era tax cuts, has many members of Congress rightly looking for solutions to address rising prices for their constituents, including with respect to prescription drugs.

Going after private actors and granting more power to the federal government, though, would be the worst way to address this problem. Weakening or eliminating PBMs would only exacerbate the drug price crisis families have been experiencing over the past four years. 

Under this approach, big pharma and big government win. The American people lose. 

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My experience in government, including my time serving on the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, taught me that we should pursue solutions that can deliver savings for the American people by empowering our free market, not limiting it. That’s why if lawmakers truly wish to tackle the issue of rising prescription drug costs, they should focus their efforts on the patent system. 

Lind Khan testifies before House Judiciary Committee

Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on July 13, 2023. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Our current laws allow for some bad actors in the drug manufacturing industry to take older drugs with expiring patents and replace them with a new version that has a fresher patent — enabling them to keep their prices high while avoiding competition. Herein lies a key reason why certain drug prices remain high, and we can only bring them down by addressing this anticompetitive behavior. 

A bill – the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act – has already been introduced in the Senate to accomplish this very task. Congress would take a concrete step toward lowering drug prices by passing it – without resorting to direct market intervention. 

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During President Biden’s tenure, the FTC has targeted grocers, beverage companies and even AI chipmakers in an ideological quest to undermine America’s system of free enterprise. We know how this movie ends: even well-intentioned interventions in the free market inevitably lead to negative consequences for Americans. 

Congress should support free-market actors like PBMs and stand opposed to the Biden administration’s socialist meddling. 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM MICHAEL POMPEO

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