ObamaCare Demonstrates Dangers of Government Interference
November 14, 2016
This article appeard in The Hill on November 2, 2016
Most researchers, scientists, and leaders in the medical community know that heavily regulating health care doesn’t bode well for innovation. However, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Sylvia Burwell, recently announced plans that would give the agency the authority to negotiate the prices of medicines — a proposal that would have disastrous results if implemented.
The issue of how much influence the government should have in the marketplace has been tested by Congress and regulators for years. However, when it comes to healthcare, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) seems to have opened the door for the government to seek new ways to interfere in the private sector.
In this case, allowing the government to negotiate the price of medicines would not only decrease the quality of drugs that make it to the market, but it would also make it difficult for the U.S. to maintain its competitive edge.
While HHS claims that having negotiating power in determining the price of medicines is a potential solution that will help repair the nation’s health care system, in reality, it is a short-sighted plan that might make the situation worse.
For example, in the six years since the ACA was passed, consumers have been first-hand witnesses to what happens when the government interferes with health care: skyrocketing premium increases, narrowing networks and decreasing competition in the marketplace, just to name a few consequences.
The failure of the ACA exchanges have shown us that while insurance companies and the administration continue to work hand in hand, healthcare costs have only gotten more expensive. And, with a long line of insurers pulling out of many state markets and exchanges, coverage options for consumers are rapidly dwindling for 2017.
With this in mind, healthcare is on track to become less accessible and leave consumers more frustrated and in the dark than before. In short, like the ACA, Burwell’s ideas might not play out as originally intended.
By all accounts, leaders in the private health care sector take pride in offering accessible and quality care to Americans. In order to sustain and improve the health care system, it is imperative that that government interference doesn’t become commonplace in 2017 and beyond.
In addition to increased taxpayer costs, prolonged government regulation threatens to compromise healthcare standards and will make it harder for competition to emerge in the marketplace and for consumers to find a healthcare plan that suits their needs.
Giving federal agencies the power to negotiate drug prices is a sure fire way of stifling innovation and taking away incentives for the development of new medicines.
If HHS is looking to solidify the country’s position as the leader in global discovery, ensure that patients will continually have access to the brightest doctors and researchers and that consumers receive the highest quality medicines available, the agency should know that their place is not at the helm of drug pricing, but helping to strengthen the healthcare system.
From finding a cure to Hepatitis C to breakthroughs in HIV and AIDS, the government should continue to foster efforts that bridge the gaps between diseases and cures. Any overreach of control would jeopardize the private sector and American innovation at the expense of consumers.