Free Market Leaders Speak Out Against Healthcare Price Controls | Citizens Against Government Waste

Free Market Leaders Speak Out Against Healthcare Price Controls

The WasteWatcher

On Thursday, February 6, 2020, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), and National Taxpayers Union (NTU) held a press teleconference to discuss how healthcare price controls are ill-advised and contrary to the Trump Administration’s deregulatory agenda.  I was pleased to be joined by my friends and fellow free market leaders, ATR President Grover Norquist and NTU President Pete Sepp, as we try to reduce the damage from present government interference in healthcare.

We were relieved to hear President Trump discuss socialized medicine during the State of the Union.   I was reminded by what Vladimir Lenin said, “socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of a socialist state.” CAGW, ATR, and NTU agree there are too many proposals that are floating around, many introduced by supposedly fiscal conservatives, that would introduce socialism and socialistic-style policies like price controls into our healthcare system.  These proposals include the International Pricing Index (IPI), introducing inflationary caps, and importing price-controlled drugs from Canada’s government-run healthcare system.  CAGW and NTU joined ATR’s January 30, 2020 coalition letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urging him to withdraw, not finalize, the agency’s IPI proposal.

The last thing we need is more price controls.  I said, “The pharmaceutical market is already greatly distorted thanks to price controls found in government drug benefit programs such as Medicaid.”  I also noted that, “Government mandates everywhere have interfered with the free market in all facets of healthcare.” 

Grover Norquist pointed out, “The idea that we are going to avoid government over-involvement in healthcare is a little bit odd given that the horse is already out of the barn on that … we are trying to reduce the damage from present government interference … we have politicians who are trying to bring down drug costs by promoting the use of price controls but pretending they are not price controls by calling them indexes.”

“All of these of attempts to control prices through government regulation are in the long run hurting taxpayers, not helping them,” Pete Sepp noted. “The IPI model that is being proposed by the administration - I can tell you the savings estimates prepared there … don't actually hold up under additional scrutiny.  They're simply multiplying out deeper drug prices in other countries, applying that formula to our own prices here, and saying 'well there's your savings.'"

As part of our longstanding efforts to prevent government price controls in healthcare, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) sent a letter to the Senate on February 11, 2020, asking senators to avoid including any price controls or similar mandates in any “must-pass or fast-moving bill, like Medicare and Medicaid extenders.”  This includes S. 2543, which would create more marketplace distortions and higher costs that will have an adverse impact on innovation and choices for patients.  The letter also reminded senators of CCAGW’s prior opposition to Section 121 of S. 2543, which include a 20 percent price control in the catastrophic phase of the Medicare redesign; inflationary rebate provisions for Medicare Parts B and D; and an international pricing index, which would import the price controls utilized in foreign countries.  We made sure to tell senators that CCAGW would consider any votes on imposing price controls on the pharmaceutical industry for our 2020 Congressional Ratings.”

I know that our friends at ATR and NTU will continue their efforts on behalf of taxpayers to keep Congress and the Trump administration from imposing price controls on any part of the healthcare industry.  We will as always be glad to join them as we have with on many others over the past several decades.