Regulating Medicare drug prices is long overdue: We have all the evidence we need that the government can rein in drug prices effectively, and the steep increase in drug prices over the last 20 years should be proof enough that our commercial drug marketplace is not working. The fact that the government of every other developed country is able to limit drug prices only further confirms the need for the United States Congress to step in and allow Medicare to set a drug price ceiling.
Neither the private-sector pharmacy benefit managers nor the insurance companies have the power to ensure that prices for brand-name drugs are reasonable. In 2014, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicare spending rose 5.5% while prescription drug costs rose 16.9%–over three times more. If Medicare regulated drug prices, we’d all be better off.
We know that a U.S. government agency can effectively use its muscle to negotiate reasonable drug prices. The Veterans Administration and Medicaid both do a better job than Medicare at regulating prices because Congress allows them to do so. According to a recent Carleton University-U.S. PIRG study, the Medicare program pays 73% more than Medicaid and 80% more than the VA for brand-name drugs.
But, would regulating drug prices undermine innovation and restrict the supply of critical drugs, as opponents of regulation argue? There’s no evidence to suggest it would. Moreover, anyone who’s worried about restricting access to critical drugs should support drug-price regulation because it is the only way to ensure that millions of Americans can afford needed medicines.
For now, people must turn to international online pharmacies, rely on friends and family to help with the high cost of their drugs, split their dosages or forego their medications altogether. The U.S. can, should and, in fact, must do better for its people.
Here’s more from Just Care:
- International online pharmacies can offer safe drugs and save you money
- Six tips to save money on prescription drugs if you have Medicare
- To save money on consider using a free health clinic
- Are your drugs delivering good value?