Issues

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...

Sustainably addressing the problems of rising prices and declining quality requires reforms that empower patients and doctors, improve price transparency, and eliminate the perverse incentives of our current health insurance system that drive up costs and limit care. Instead of addressing the health care system’s core deficiencies, policymakers push for counterproductive policies like price controls. Efforts in Indiana show that politicians do not need to pass legislation to implement bad ideas. The threat of legislation is sufficient. Indiana’s Senate President Pro Tempore...

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...

It ignores the risk of hazardous drug-drug interactions with the Pfizer pill. As someone who has closely followed and written extensively about the development of COVID-19 vaccines and drug treatments since the beginning of the pandemic, one pronouncement in President Joe Biden's State of the Union speech raised red flags: "We're also ready with antiviral treatments. If you get COVID-19, the Pfizer pill reduces your chances of ending up in the hospital by 90% ...

As President Biden's recent State of the Union address made clear, drug pricing will remain a top policy issue for the foreseeable future. The president is correct that something must be done, but his proposals are wrongheaded and will only make things worse. Instead of focusing on government price controls, Congress should remove the obstacles limiting patient control and choice. The claim that prices are lower, and quality is higher, when consumers have more choices is typically uncontroversial. Yet, for some reason...

Popular wisdom is often wrong. Consider, for example, how it views organic agriculture, which has grown to a $48 billion a year industry in the U.S. Organic products are sold at outlets ranging from local farmers' markets to large supermarket chains, and many people assume that there is something more natural, wholesome, or environmentally sustainable about them. None of that is true. What's remarkable about this agriculture sector is that the government's extensive promotion has been a hoax from the beginning, having nothing...

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...

In his last blog post before resigning as director of the National Institutes of Health in December 2021, Francis Collins touted many of the important areas of research NIH conducted or funded in his more than 12 years leading the organization, “from innovative immunotherapies for treating cancer to the gift of mRNA vaccines to combat a pandemic.” He could have added to this list other frontiers of medicine explored by NIH-supported researchers: how the human brain works; the health benefits of the trillions of microbes that call our bodies...

‘Test to Treat’ ignores the significant risk of drug interactions with the Pfizer pill. President Biden touted a new anti-Covid initiative in his State of the Union address Tuesday. “We’re also ready with antiviral treatments. If you get Covid-19, the Pfizer pill reduces your chances of ending up in the hospital by 90%,” he said. “And we’re launching the ‘Test to Treat’ initiative so people can get tested at a pharmacy, and if they’re positive, receive antiviral pills on the spot at no...

“That morning I squeezed every orange and it felt like a wet sponge – I knew I lost the whole crop,” said Natalia Derevianko, a small farmer in the tiny Florida town of Archer, somewhere in the void between Orlando and Tallahassee.   Florida’s peninsular climate offers farmers an opportunity to grow high-value fruit crops in the winter months when much of the rest of the country is blanketed in snow. On Jan. 30, this season’s valuable crop of citrus, peaches, and avocados was...

READ THE REPORT The problem of drug affordability is caused by the perverse incentives created by the third-party payer system that have disempowered patients in favor of insurers and other supply-chain intermediaries. The insurance flaws have created pricing systems that inequitably transfer a disproportionate share of drug costs on to patients. This arrangement inappropriately imposes a drug affordability problem on patients who require expensive medicines. The insurance flaws also incent benefit design policies that create additional affordability burdens and unnecessarily increase...

Too often, regulations undermine the competitive process in the name of promoting competition. The ill-conceived Right to Repair legislation exemplify the problems and risks. Under the pretense of promoting competition, states as diverse as Texas and California, Arkansas and Hawaii have all considered bills that would violate medical device companies’ intellectual property rights. While many have been defeated, some legislators seem intent on advancing one businesses interest over another, which undermines competitive efficiency and, in the case of medical devices, creates risks to patient care. At issue are the rules...

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...