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Davis Journal

Promoting and protecting our free market

May 23, 2024 10:17AM ● By Maxine Shreeve

Politicians sometimes push for proposals claiming they will benefit the American people when, in reality, they have ulterior motives at play. This is the case with recent government mandates targeting pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Many lawmakers, mainly the extreme left, are using the public appetite for drug pricing policy, as an opportunity to serve the American people with unnecessary government overregulation in the health care system. 

Despite saying that these various policies would lower health care costs, they would actually have the opposite effect. In fact, a health care economist recently looked into one specific policy being considered to “remov[e] an incentive for PBMs to negotiate with manufacturers for the lowest net price (the price after discounts and rebates)” and would “likely result in higher costs for patients and taxpayers and more revenues for drug manufacturers and others.” 

The economist concluded that this ban of market-based incentives in the commercial health insurance market would increase health care premiums by more than $26 billion every year. 

Costs are lowered when the free market is left alone to drive down costs. PBMs are free market solutions in the prescription drug supply chain that encourage greater competition to brand name drugs to lower prescription drug costs. They also provide health plan sponsors, like employers, with a range of options when it comes to how a health plan sponsor can design their prescription drug plan, making it easier and more affordable. 

The government wanting to insert itself into the health care system would only result in increased costs for patients, families and taxpayers, and less choices for hardworking businesses trying to offer competitive benefits for their employees and families. 

The competitiveness of our state’s businesses largely rely on being able to provide high quality, affordable benefits and restricting PBMs would only make it harder for employers to do so. In fact, a recent national survey of employers actually found that 89 percent of employers think their pharmacy benefit company is valuable in helping their organization offer affordable benefits to employees.

Rather than focusing on effective policies that address the lack of competition in the prescription drug supply chain driven by Big Pharma, the Socialist Left would rather advance policies that help their agenda of universalized health care. That’s why Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez specifically used a hearing on PBMs last year as a proof point “of why Medicare for All is so essential.” 

The same policy that would hike premiums by billions of dollars would also reward Big Pharma with boosted profits of nearly $22 billion. Big Pharma pushes the Left to pass proposals targeting our pharmacy benefits so they get increased profits, and the Left uses policies targeting PBMs to advance their Medicare-for-All type health care agenda. 

Wins for Big Pharma and the Left would mean a major loss for Americans. Conservative lawmakers should not give the Left the chance to allow for the government to intervene in our markets; and they can start by protecting our pharmacy benefits and health care system. 

Maxine Shreeve is a GOP activist in Salt Lake City, Utah.