Issues

The Democrats' budget reconciliation bill is winding its way through the Senate. Last week, Republican and Democratic senators met with the chamber's parliamentarian to discuss whether the bill's proposal for Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs with manufacturers has a direct impact on government spending or tax revenue, as reconciliation rules require. But these are not negotiations. They're price controls. The bill's text sets maximum prices that the government will pay — and threatens confiscatory taxes for drug companies that refuse to...

CLICK HERE TO READ THE BRIEF Establishing an Efficient Health Insurance Market Cultivating an efficient health insurance market requires reforms that empower patients over payers, which can be achieved by: Making health expenditures and health insurance expenditures tax deductible;  Broadening the availability and usability of tax-free saving accounts to help patients cover the deductibles and out of pocket expenses that could arise should they require costly healthcare services; and Promoting price transparency and insurance competition to enable a more competitive pro-patient healthcare...

Late last month, the Food and Drug Administration advised COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to develop booster shots aimed at the omicron variant of the virus. Regulators hope the shots will be ready by the fall. That will probably be too late to stop BA.5, the highly transmissible subvariant that has quickly become the dominant strain in the United States. It's been roughly six months since omicron caused COVID cases to spike. Yet the FDA waited until a new, more transmissible version of the virus was threatening a wave of cases...

Every month, it seems, the United States smashes another unenviable record when it comes to drug addiction and overdose statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the latest data show a jaw-dropping 108,000 overdose deaths in 2021. America’s families and communities are reeling — and the federal government needs to help. As part of a broader strategy to save lives, Congress and the Biden administration must embrace efforts to prevent addiction before it can begin. This means reducing the overprescribing of...

The following op-ed has been authored by a non-clinician, it does not constitute medical advice. In an effort to boost access to the antiviral Paxlovid, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will now allow pharmacists to prescribe the medicine; the agency announced this last week, on July 6. Previously, patients seeking the drug, which has proven highly effective at preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19, needed a prescription from a doctor. That hurdle never really made sense. Paxlovid must be taken no more than five days...

With inflation rising and midterm elections just months away, Democrats are desperate for something they can pitch to voters as a reason to keep them in control of Congress. They're hoping a watered-down version of their Build Back Better Act could do the trick. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., who helped shoot the bill down last winter, has met repeatedly with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., in recent weeks in an effort to hash out a compromise on the massive spending package. Reports indicate a proposal to...

Imagine you’ve been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, told by your physician that if it can’t be managed, you may eventually need a transplant or long-term dialysis. This scary situation is one faced by hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is an illness that affects an estimated 37 million people in the U.S. That’s more than one in seven adults across the country, or nearly the entire population of California. Despite this alarming statistic, investment in kidney disease...

Proponents of prescription-drug importation notched a victory last week. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee green-lit a bill that would enable individuals to import medicines from Canada in the name of lowering out-of-pocket costs. It's not something Americans should welcome or support. Drugs imported from outside the United States will always pose a significant safety risk. Even if they didn't, importing medicines from countries with price controls on drugs would have devastating effects on medical innovation at home. It's an article of...

The House passed bipartisan legislation last week that could help reduce costs and ensure continued innovation for the future. While this legislation might not be covered as extensively as other issues, it nonetheless represents meaningful progress. This week, the Senate HELP Committee passed the Senate version, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Landmark Advancements (FDASLA) Act, a reauthorization of Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), the Biosimilars User Fee Act (BsUFA), and the Generic Drug User Fee Amendments (GDUFA). These...

By Henry I. Miller and Josh Bloom Decades ago, a case report (relating the experience with a single patient) was published which described how a person’s flu symptoms improved after a bowl of chicken soup, but then reappeared. The article was meant as a kind of parody of the old maxim that chicken soup is the best cure for a cold. Pediatricians occasionally see a similar phenomenon when children are treated with an antibiotic for an ear infection; they may then...

Earlier this month, a group of 17 House Republicans released several ideas for modernizing the healthcare system, improving access to care, and lowering costs. One of the proposals — safeguarding expanded access to telehealth — could help achieve all three of those goals. Lawmakers would do well to relax permanently the telehealth restrictions that were temporarily waived during the pandemic. Those waivers have eliminated onerous barriers to virtual care. For example, Medicare beneficiaries no longer have to travel to a designated healthcare facility just to...

Entrepreneurs, empowered by competitive markets, drive economic progress. When market regulations incentivize productive activities, entrepreneurs radically improve existing goods and services and create new products we never knew that we couldn’t live without. The wrong regulatory structures misalign these positive incentives. They thwart or misappropriate entrepreneurial efforts resulting in lost opportunities to improve consumer welfare and, when the disincentives are particularly pernicious, can even worsen consumer outcomes. A fitting example is the policy obstacles in the drug market that empower industry...

Hospitals are shoring up their balance sheets on the backs of cancer patients, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers looked at 25 of the top cancer medications distributed at 61 cancer treatment centers across the country over the course of six months. They found that the clinics charged private insurers anywhere from 118% to 634% above what it cost them to acquire the drug. It shouldn’t take a team of medical researchers to find out how much...

Did the Biden administration participate in closed-door meetings with foreign officials to deal away some of America's most valuable intellectual property? It appears so. According to a letter sent by six senators to U.S. Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai on May 10, the Biden administration negotiated a proposal with the European Union, India and South Africa to suspend IP protections for COVID-19 vaccines without consulting Congress like it's supposed to. The senators condemn her for negotiating behind their backs. They're right to be incensed. Ambassador Tai's...

More than eight in 10 hospitals are flouting a federal rule requiring them to publish their prices, according to a new report. That rule has been in force for over a year now. It’s long past time for hospitals to comply. The lack of transparency in the health care market is costing patients billions of dollars. Since Jan. 1, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have mandated that hospitals share how much they charge for at least 300 different “shoppable...

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...

By Henry I. Miller and Jeff Stier The two-years-plus of the COVID-19 pandemic should be a wakeup call that there is something very wrong – irreparable, even – at the chronically inept World Health Organization (WHO). Two recent transgressions show that the bureaucrats there are not getting any smarter. The first is almost inconceivable. Medicago, a Canadian company, developed a COVID-19 vaccine synthesized in the Nicotiniana plant, a relative of tobacco. In clinical testing, it showed efficacy against all variants studied prior to the emergence of Omicron of 71%, and for...

Listen to the author of a new study discuss how America’s broken third-party healthcare payment system prioritizes government and insurance companies as the largest payers, leaving patients with higher out-of-pocket costs, greater exposure to healthcare financial risk, and reduced access to care.  To learn more, read the "Coverage Denied" series from PRI's Center for Medical Economics and Innovation. ...

America’s broken third-party healthcare payment system prioritizes government and insurance companies as the largest payers, leaving patients with higher out-of-pocket costs, greater exposure to healthcare financial risk, and reduced access to care - finds the latest paper in the Coverage Denied series released today by the Center for Medical Economics and Innovation at the nonpartisan Pacific Research Institute. Click here to read the brief “The healthcare marketplace should prioritize the needs of patients, but our broken third-party payment system caters to insurers...