What they’re saying: Patient advocates want to protect Medicare from government interference

August 24, 2021
The Catalyst Blog
By Gabby Migliara

For seniors and people with disabilities, Medicare Parts B and D provide important access to lifesaving medicines. Unfortunately, some in Congress are proposing changes to Medicare under the guise of “negotiation,” meaning the government can set the price of medicines. But experts agree access to current and future medicines for Medicare beneficiaries is threatened when the government intervenes to set the price of medicines. There are several approaches to government price setting in Medicare that are all cause for concern – whether through government “negotiation,” the threat of a 95% tax or other mechanisms – because they could directly and negatively impact access to lifesaving medicines for patients.

Here is a closer look at recent comments from everyday people across the country on their concern about high medical costs and so-called government negotiation:

  • “The United States has been leading the charge in vaccine development and administration, something that could not have been done without the strength of research and development happening in the pharmaceutical industry. However, there have been recent policy proposals at state and federal levels that would threaten medical innovation and research… The U.S. could not be leading COVID-19 vaccine production and administration without innovation. If prescription price setting legislation stifles innovation… we will have lost our critical edge.” – Jan Unstad, MinnPost (Minnesota)
  • “As a senior citizen, I keep an eye on rules and policies that could affect my Medicare coverage and access to prescription drugs. … The problem is, this plan for government-mandated pricing won’t work. It will lead to a hornet’s nest of problems that could limit our access to life-saving drugs! … Unfortunately, access issues are only the tip of the iceberg. When prices are pushed down, it also affects investment in research and development. It is a policy mistake we seniors simply cannot afford.” – Susan Mitchell, Senior Spectrum (Nevada)
  • “Millions of residents across Oregon — and the entire country — rely on treatments and cures to lead happy, healthy lives. We need affordable healthcare, but we also need access to treatments. Price-setting policies without holistically addressing the real problem would harm the very innovation we’ve all benefited from… If we put up roadblocks on the road to medical innovation, who knows what kinds of life-saving treatments we could be forgoing?” – Marianne Ritchie, The Beaverton Valley Times (Oregon)
  • “As a nurse in the NICU, I know that health care can be hard to navigate. But the price-setting measures that lawmakers have proposed fail to address the affordability problem at its core. From my experience, insurance companies are the ones that make patient care so expensive. Unfortunately, price-setting restrictions would only restrict medical innovation, making our care options even more limited.” – Kimberly Statler, RN, Bucks Courier Times (Pennsylvania)

While there are many ways Medicare works well, seniors and people with disabilities are increasingly facing higher out-of-pocket costs for the medicines they need. We need to take a holistic approach to lowering what people pay out of pocket for medicines and ensure Americans have access to the treatments their doctors prescribe. There’s a way to do both, but government interference in Medicare isn’t it.

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