The cost of prescription drugs is too high. However, the solution isn’t to demand companies to drop prices and lose money — but that’s exactly what some think the federal government should do.
Centrists Democrats joined with Republicans to vote down a prescription drug price-fixing provision, the Washington Examiner reported. The measure failed to make it out of committee and onto the bloated social welfare and infrastructure proposal as planned.
Reps. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Scott Peters (D-CA) joined with all of the Republicans in voting it down Wednesday. The final committee vote was 59-59 which prevented the measure from proceeding.
Both Schrader and Peters had proposed their own legislation that competes with the one voted down. However, the moderate Democrats had a more modest approach, seeking to negotiate only over drugs with no competitors and which are covered by Medicare Part B.
“It is unfortunate that Reps. Peters, Rice, Schrader are turning their backs on patients, going against the wishes of voters in their districts, and doing the bidding of Big Pharma,” founder of the Patients For Affordable Drugs Now organization, David Mitchell, said. “There will no doubt be a price to pay in the future for their efforts to oppose the most popular priority in the reconciliation package — allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices.”
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone had made the appeal for the broader measure allowing the government to use its massive buying power to drive prices down. “I promise that your voices will be heard, either with a seat at the table or through me, and ultimately, we all want the same things, which is meaningful drug pricing reform that clears the U.S. Senate and gets sent to the president’s desk,” Pallone had said to the members.
Democrats have been trying to manipulate and intimidate drug companies to drive prices down, so this latest vote is a setback in that agenda. While it’s arguable that pharmaceutical companies have some wiggle room, it’s always a bad idea to let government set prices in any industry.
The focus on prescription drug prices helps Democrats win votes, but it ultimately will damage the healthcare system if allowed. Companies create drugs they believe are profitable, but they won’t take those risks if there’s no financial incentive in the end.