When the Republicans talk about “Affordable Heathcare,” one of the options they tout is “Repeal and Replace.” Given their past history, a Republican “Replace” option concerns me more than anything else. Republicans have always prohibited Medicare — the single largest buyer — from attempting to negotiate drug prices, consistent with the pharmaceutical companies’ philosophy that completely unrestrained prices and profits are necessary to fund the risk-taking of research and development. Medicare is required by Congress to accept the pharmaceutical companies’ prices without comparison or negotiation, add 6 percent to it, and pay it. As a perpetual gift to the pharmaceutical companies, when Part D of Medicare was passed in 2003, Congress prohibited Medicare from negotiating altogether. There were some reciprocal gifts from the pharmaceutical companies to the cooperating Congressmen, as might be expected.
This is working about the way that could have been predicted. With these non-competitive provisions in place, our drug prices doubled and tripled and quadrupled overnight. Accordingly, our drug prices are consistently higher than Canadian drug prices and those of all other civilized nations. And, as per Congress’ directive, Medicare is required to add 6 percent and pay it. This is the single biggest contributor to our skyrocketing drug prices and overall medical care. I can’t see that Americans benefit in any way from the Republicans’ approach to healthcare.