By demanding drug costs be lowered for all Americans, President Donald Trump has taken on Washington’s ruling political class, Congress, and the pharmaceutical companies.
The President’s efforts have created a set of expectations that the drug industry must make their products more affordable for patients. However, a recently proposed rule from the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) will give drug companies the green light to continue raising prices.
The proposed rule is a departure from President Trump's platform that drug prices are too high and his belief that pharmaceutical companies are “getting away with murder.” HHS’s proposition would let drug companies off the hook on their recent promises to stem rising drug prices and, instead, target Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) whom are actually one of the best tools Americans have to ensure patients pay less for their drugs, by negotiating better prices from the pharmaceutical companies.
Specifically, HHS’s proposed rule would make it more difficult for insurance companies and PBMs to share in rebate negotiations, which diminishes their financial incentives to keep drug costs and insurance premiums from rising. President Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have both acknowledged that we cannot trust that big drug manufacturers to lower prices.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar has stated that the proposed rule could result in drug prices going down as much as 30 percent. That math is wishful thinking. The savings are actually based on assumptions that the pharmaceutical industry will unilaterally lower their prices on all of their drugs, including the newer ones which are a key source of their massive profits.
No doubt, HHS is pushing this proposal because the powerful drug company lobbyists are fighting to protect their profit margins. Oddly, this rule would reverse the progress made in lowering costs through rebates which, in some cases, has helped keep insurance premiums from spiking out of control.
If HHS’s proposed rule becomes law, it punishes the consumer, and continues to pour millions of dollars into big drug lobby’s coffers. This will only encourage the drug companies to keep their prices high, while at the same time using those profits to block the president’s agenda to help working families afford healthcare.
While the political elites in Washington happily fight on behalf of the drug companies, one in five Americans currently skips doses or does not refill their prescriptions in order to cut costs. This includes veterans of war like myself, many of whom don't utilize U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical care.
If the president wants to bring down drug costs, his Administration must stay the course and focus on forcing pharmaceutical company to be more transparent in their pricing, increase competition, and mandate the drug companies to lower their prices. A great start would be allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry.
Since the 1970s, the president has been successful at making good deals. He will make a great deal if he holds the drug companies accountable and forces them to cut their prices. If he succumbs to the entrenched interests in Washington, this proposed rule from HHS will become the law, and we can all wait — likely indefinitely — for the drug companies to voluntarily cut their prices. Rather, I think the president should use every ounce of power he has to force the pharmaceutical industry to bring down prices. If he can do that, all Americans will thank him — even the entrenched Washington elites who also pay too much for healthcare.
Christopher Neiweem is the Founder of Neiweem Group, an Iraq War Veteran, and Political Strategist. He has testified in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate as an expert witness numerous times in front many congressional committees. These topics range from defense, veterans, commerce, education, and military personnel. He regularly appears on Fox News Channel and other news shows as a guest commentator and has worked on several political campaigns. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.