Author: Sally Pipes

Earlier this month, members of the World Trade Organization met to debate a proposal to waive intellectual property protections on COVID-19 vaccines. Supporters of the plan claim it's necessary to boost the supply of vaccines in developing countries and, in turn, vaccinate the world. But insufficient supply isn't holding up the global vaccination campaign. In fact, many developing countries have a surplus of vaccines. Consider South Africa, which is preparing to destroy its stockpile of expiring doses and terminate its mass vaccination program. Or take the Serum Institute of India, which shut...

Nearly three in four doctors now work for a hospital, health system, or corporate entity, according to new data from Avalere. That's a 7% increase from a year ago—and an almost 20% jump since 2019. In other words, the independent physician is becoming an endangered species. The corporatization of medicine is sapping competition in the healthcare marketplace. And that's leading to higher prices for patients—and lower pay for providers. The pandemic accelerated the longstanding trend of greater consolidation in medicine. Large health systems acquired more than 36,000 physician...

Last week, both New York and Kansas granted nurse practitioners the freedom to practice independently, without the supervision of a physician. The Empire State and the Sunflower State are now the 25th and 26th states to roll back "scope-of-practice" restrictions on NPs. This trend is worth celebrating. The shortage of primary care doctors in the United States is already at crisis levels, particularly in rural areas. Empowering NPs, physician assistants, and pharmacists to treat people independently could expand the supply of health care virtually overnight — at...

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just recommended that seniors get a second COVID-19 booster shot. But there are plenty of people over the age of 65 — one-third, according to the latest data — who have not yet gotten their first booster. Perhaps that's because it took until the omicron variant emerged last fall for the CDC to get behind booster shots for all adults. Or maybe it's because public health officials have been peddling confusing and contradictory messaging...

In the last three months, state legislators have introduced more than 70 bills that would modify “scope-of-practice” laws—regulations that set limits on the care physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and other qualified professionals can provide to patients. It’s no wonder why. Many state lawmakers understood the benefits of temporarily relaxing these restrictions as COVID-19 strained the healthcare system. Freeing up physician assistants and nurse practitioners to provide more services made it easier for patients to access care during the pandemic. And it gave physicians more time...

Nearly 84 million Americans live in “primary-care health professional shortage areas” — places that don’t have enough primary-care physicians to meet patient need. That includes over 7.8 million patients living here in California. Even in the face of this shortage, only 25 states grant the right of “full practice” to nurse practitioners, or NPs, who could immediately address this problem. In the remaining states, “scope-of-practice” laws prevent NPs from evaluating patients, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests and managing treatments. States with such...

Last week, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee held a hearing, "Prescription Drug Price Inflation: An Urgent Need to Lower Drug Prices in Medicare." It's rare to see so many falsehoods in so few words. The idea that drug-price inflation is especially bad or that it poses some sort of threat to our health system is at best confused — and at worst dishonest. The hearing was largely intended to give Senate Democrats a forum to grandstand with calls for price controls on prescription drugs. That such...

The federal public health emergency prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic is set to expire in mid-April. Some states have already let their own emergency declarations lapse. It's about time. COVID-19 is no longer the crisis it was back in 2020. Living in a permanent state of emergency is unsustainable. But that doesn't mean we should go back to the pre-pandemic status quo. Many of the reforms enacted during the state of emergency — especially those that liberalized the healthcare labor market — deserve to...

Late last month, the Federal Trade Commission announced it would seek public comments on the ways pharmacy benefit managers distort the prices of prescription drugs. PBMs deserve the scrutiny, as they're to blame for much of the rise in prescription drug costs. Insurers hire PBMs to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers and determine which medicines end up on a plan's formulary. To guarantee their drug has a spot on the list, pharmaceutical firms routinely offer these gatekeepers deep discounts on medications. Savings on...

To say that Americans are anxiously awaiting the end of the COVID-19 pandemic would be an understatement. But for patients who have enjoyed the ease of attending doctor's appointments virtually, a return to the way things were pre-pandemic might be bittersweet. That's because onerous restrictions on telemedicine, which lawmakers relaxed when COVID-19 hit, could be reinstated once officials declare the public health emergency over. Fortunately, Congress may not let that happen. Several pieces of legislation are pending that would permanently loosen restrictions on telehealth...

It’s budget season in Sacramento. Governor Gavin Newsom’s spending proposal is the largest in the Golden State’s history. There’s no shortage of expensive and misguided policies in his budget. Chief among them is his push to expand Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, to cover all undocumented immigrants. Doing so would make Medi-Cal worse for its legacy beneficiaries and nudge the state closer to the government-run, single-payer system that is the long-term goal of Newsom and his progressive allies. The governor proposes spending...

Last week, President Joe Biden announced the re-launch of his "Cancer Moonshot" initiative, a project he created in 2016 while serving as Vice President in the Obama administration. The ambitious effort aims to "end cancer as we know it today" by, among other things, halving the death rate from the disease by 2047. That goal is laudable. It will also be impossible to achieve if the president continues to make prescription drug price controls a top administration priority. The only way to spur the...

Imagine a visit to the local farmer’s market. When you’re about to pay the farmer for some fruit, a man in a suit and sunglasses interrupts the exchange and offers to negotiate a discount with the farmer. Cool, right? Not so fast. The man in the suit didn’t tell you who the discount was for. He gets the fruit for less, to be sure, but sells it on to you for the original price. He keeps the difference between his purchase price...

Upon facing declining revenue prospects, physicians are shuttering their private, independent practices to partner up with larger hospitals that have near-monopolies on care in the regions they serve. This trend is depressing news for most Americans. Further concentration of market power in these health systems ultimately results in less personalized care and higher overall costs for patients. The effect of the decrease in independent medical practice Medicare physician’s pay has increased by 11% over the past 20 years. The overhead costs of operating an independent medical...

On Jan. 1, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services increased fines for hospitals that have not complied with a rule enacted at the beginning of last year mandating they be transparent about their prices. As of December, more than half of hospitals were still flouting the rule. Patients deserve better. Transparent prices can help them make more informed decisions about their care — and drive down health costs. The 2021 CMS rule ordered hospitals to reveal their prices for 300 "shoppable services," ranging from...

Imagine you’re walking the aisles of your local supermarket, on the hunt for your favorite cereal. You usually purchase the generic version, since it tastes nearly the same and is much cheaper than the name-brand version. But today, you notice that the price of the name-brand cereal is just a few cents more expensive than the generic version. You remember that Congress just passed a law capping the price of name-brand cereal. Now, with the prices almost equal, you decide to purchase...

Last week, on Dec. 19 specifically, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced that he would not support the current iteration of the Build Back Better Act. His decision calls the future of the $1.75 trillion spending package into serious question. For this, Democrats have only themselves to blame. After all, Manchin's demands that Democrats scale back their ambitions are more than reasonable — especially at a moment of high inflation and economic uncertainty. Build Back Better employs a host of gimmicks to mask the bill's true cost. Indeed,...

With Sen. Joe Manchin saying he won't vote for the Build Back Better Act, at least in the bill's current form, Democrats are scrambling to revise the bill. Patients and taxpayers can only hope they fail. The bill is packed with disastrous healthcare policies. For instance, Build Back Better would extend the exceedingly generous Obamacare subsidies that Congress approved earlier this year until 2025. Those tax credits, which are currently set to expire at the close of 2022, are a wasteful and...

For current and future taxpayers, 2021 was a brutal year—at least when it comes to healthcare spending. Congress and the Biden administration approved tens of billions in new expenditures. Much of that money was, or will be, wasted on inefficient programs and subsidies that do little to improve the quality of care that Americans receive. But the bill will come due regardless. The president kicked off his first term with a massive $1.9 trillion stimulus package, the American Rescue Plan. About $34 billion went to...

It's hard to find a silver lining in a pandemic. But COVID-19 has convinced the medical and policymaking establishments, perhaps unwittingly, that high-quality care can be delivered remotely. The telehealth revolution is upon us. Lawmakers waived numerous arcane and outdated regulations governing the use of telemedicine to make the service more available for everyday patients. Onerous restrictions that required patients to receive telehealth care in medical facilities and barred doctors from conducting appointments across state lines were as nonsensical before the...