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Opinion Pieces

We don't need Democrats' price controls to bring down drug prices

The mummified Build Back Better plan has arisen from the dead. If Democrats have their way, the federal government will get to mandate drug prices, and the public will have less access to cures and future medical innovations.

If the Ghost of Build Back Better Past somehow gets enacted into law by Congress, expect to be unable to access innovative treatments. Patients who need treatments that are in the research and development phase won’t be able to access them, because there will be little to no dollars invested in innovative treatments.

Democrats want to put price controls on drugs and other treatments under the guise of supposed negotiation. Let’s make one thing clear. This is not a “negotiation.” Negotiation with the federal government is like negotiating with the mob: It’s a one-sided, top-down, take-it-or-leave-it approach. Democratic proposals call for a 95% penalty tax that will force drug companies to accept whatever price government bureaucrats decide.

Introducing price controls into any market, including pharmaceuticals or biomedical research and development, will restrict supplies and access. It’s that simple. This is Economics 101. In this case, we are talking about the medications that make you well.

Fewer drugs will come to market in the next 30 years if the Democrats’ newly released drug pricing framework becomes law, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Think of the cures and treatments we have today that we didn’t have 30 years ago, such as those for HIV, hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, numerous cancers, and many other conditions.

Ask yourself: Do you know someone who had a disease that was once untreatable? I used to perform reconstructive foot surgeries for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The need for almost all of these surgeries went away after a new drug came along. Other cures, such as the cure to hepatitis C, may have significant costs at the outset of treatment, but the long-term savings for the patient and their quality-of-life benefits are immense. This type of cure alone eliminates the need for a liver transplant and years of high-level care.

As we contemplate solutions, we need to think about what new therapeutics and cures can add to a patient’s quality of life.

As a physician, I always seek to improve patients’ access to treatments, and that access increases by lowering out-of-pocket costs. As we address the issue of lowering patient costs, we must look at this issue holistically, and long-term.

Republicans introduced H.R. 19, the Lower Costs More Cures Act, which has bipartisan provisions to lower healthcare costs, has an out-of-pocket cap for seniors, and ensures America leads in healthcare innovation. The bill also secures our medical supply chain and makes sure that we do more to keep manufacturing here in the United States. It also gives patients more drug price transparency and ensures public disclosure of drug costs and discounts. As a physician, I believe there could not be more important work in front of us.

The federal subsidies and price controls that Democrats propose in the name of “lowering” prices will cause fewer drugs to be available on the market. Patients will be unable to access the most innovative new drugs for their conditions because pharmaceutical companies will invest less in research and development.

Democrats are trying to rush this bill through, out of regular order, because they expect they will lose power in the fall. This is merely a push to rob Medicare dollars to pay insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act. If they lose the speaker’s gavel, their big government plans will be thwarted.

As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and a physician who serves on the Republican Healthy Future Task Force leading the Treatments Subcommittee, I am looking forward to continuing the important work of lowering drug costs and supercharging the availability and development of life-saving cures and medical devices.

Voters are saying no to the mummified Build Back Better plan, goodbye to socialist price control plans, and hello to a healthy future.

This op-ed originally ran in the Washington Examiner.