Free markets work
John Miniter’s letter on Big Pharma’s Influence criticizes an unnamed M.D. Congressman as being “beholden to drug companies” because Medicare and Medicaid have no negotiated direct contracts with government as does the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. His real complaint is with the “non-interference clause “of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, which refers to Medicare Part D, forbidding the federal government from interfering with negotiations between prescription drug plans and manufacturers.
Medicare Part D drug prices are negotiated among Medicare Advantage plans and over 1,100 “stand alone” prescription drug plans. Today, 90 percent of Medicare enrollees have drug coverage, which on average subsidizes about 75 percent of the cost. In 2011, estimated savings for the period 2004-2013 were 41.8 percent below original estimates, saving $264.6 billion. From 2006-2011 costs were 48 percent lower than projected.
Miniter takes M.D. Congressman to task because he has not supported plans for Medicaid direct purchase, when it is a state-administered plan. All states purchase drugs at the lowest prevailing rate. If there is a lower price in the market, states can sue drug companies for the difference. Many drug companies fund programs for special needs.
As usual with statists, this is all about power and fully nationalizing our health care system.
Insulating drug companies from political interference, combined with competitive bidding, defined-contribution financing and robust plan competition shows that free markets work.