Among the many debt-driving, boondoggle-creating big government ideas in the misnamed Inflation Reduction Act is a plan to allow Medicare to negotiate with Big Pharma for medication prices.
The Biden administration and congressional Democrats say this will reduce taxpayer costs for drugs.
But Sen. Marco Rubio argues that the administration ditched an opportunity to purchase a popular drug at a cheaper price because of its contempt for former President Donald Trump.
Writing Friday in The Washington Times, the Florida Republican noted that Biden on his third day in office halted a Trump plan to cut the price of insulin for low-income and uninsured Americans. Biden’s move “was part of the new administration’s blitz to unravel anything and everything” related to Trump, Rubio wrote.
Insulin is a critical drug for Americans as obesity increases, bringing with it greater health concerns, many of which will need pharmaceutical intervention.
“That blind hatred came at a cost, though. In this case, it was a higher price for life-saving treatments paid by Americans in need.”
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“More than a year later,” he added, “the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress have still not delivered on their promise to lower insulin prices for our country’s most vulnerable. In fact, they are actively voting against Republican-led efforts to do just that.”
The senator pointed out that during the debate over the Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats voted in unison to reject a Republican plan to provide insulin at $10 per prescription for anyone who is low-income, defined as a household income of about $97,000 a year for a family of four.
“I voted yes because it was common sense. So did every single Senate Republican,” Rubio noted. “Yet the Democrats unanimously rejected the provision.”
Then, he added, the Democrats and their media lackeys sought to vilify the Republicans for blocking a $35 price cap for insulin.
Rubio said the Senate Democrats and the media lied about the issue because “Republicans blocked a Democrat counter-amendment, all right, but in doing so they ensured that insulin will become more affordable, not less.”
According to Rubio, the Democrats’ “grand proposal” was to cap insulin at $35 — which is actually more than triple what low-income Americans would have paid with the GOP amendment.
Rubio further noted that the Democrats’ “arbitrary” price cap applied to those already insured, which would leave “some of the most vulnerable out in the cold.”
Yet the Democrats’ plan also would have actually made insulin more expensive in the long run.
While he allowed insulin’s price remains too high for many Americans, the cost is falling.
The annual net cost for each insulin treatment dropped by 20 percent between 2007 and 2021, Rubio noted.
In Florida, some Medicare enrollees pay just $24 for a month’s supply. Private insurers last year provided insulin at an average cost of only $23.19, or $6 less than as recently as 2018.
“This is happening because of economic competition. Pharmaceutical companies and insurance agencies are jockeying for the lowest price to attract more buyers,” Rubio argued. “Competition will continue to lower the price of insulin as time goes on — unless, that is, the federal government implements heavy-handed interventions like price controls.”
“If Congress mandated $35 insulin, do we really think pharmaceutical companies would keep competing for the lowest price? More likely they would play it safe and congregate for around $35. That would raise insulin costs for most Americans, not lower them.”
Rubio further maintained that the Democrats’ price controls will stifle innovation in insulin production. With a cap that everyone will pay, Big Pharma will invest less in the research and development of new drugs because they have no incentive to innovate, he added.
“In contrast,” he wrote, “the Republican plan would have preserved market competition while ensuring people with the greatest need get the treatment they require. That the Democrats rejected it shows they care more about maintaining support from their radical base and scoring partisan points on Twitter than helping real Americans.”
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Free Press.