Policy Proposals

On this page, you’ll find our analysis on key state and federal pharmaceutical policy proposals, with a focus on providing the expected economic impact from these proposals.

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...

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...

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...

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...

Watch PRI’s Wayne Winegarden, director of our Center for Medical Economics and Innovation, discuss efforts by the Federal Trade Commission to considering ordering large pharmacy benefits managers to study the competitive impact of contractual provisions, reimbursement adjustments, and other practices affecting drug prices on Scripps National News. https://youtu.be/DQsjKM44ScQ...

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...

By Henry I. Miller, M.S., M.D. and Jeff Stier When President Joe Biden nominated Obama-era Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf to return to his old post, he made what is widely seen as a safe, if uninspired, choice. Califf is a distinguished cardiologist and clinical trial specialist, but the day-to-day regulatory decision-making happens at the organizational levels below the commissioner. The FDA, a huge and critically important but dysfunctional organization, now needs a bold, clear-thinking reformer, but Califf, the...

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...

By Henry I. Miller, M.S., M.D. and John J. Cohrssen Earlier this week, President Biden outlined new steps to confront the growing spread of Covid-19 from the new, more infectious Omicron variant, which, in only a few weeks, has soared from virtually nonexistent to 73 percent of all new cases. Unfortunately, Biden’s plan failed to include what could be the most important action of all: an all-out effort to make safe and effective anti-viral Covid-19 pills available—two of which have now...

A health insurance “public option” is a long-cherished goal for many Democrats. Yet, progress on that goal has stalled at the national level. But three states — Washington, Nevada, and Colorado— have gone ahead with such schemes. Another 16 are considering them. Washington’s public plan is about to complete its first year in business. Colorado officials, meanwhile, have to create their standardized health benefit plan by the end of this year. We can be sure that the White House and Democrats in...

Open enrollment on Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges is in full swing. Consumers in most states, including the 33 that use the federally operated HealthCare.gov, have until Jan. 15 to sign up for coverage for 2022. The Biden administration says things have never been better, and that premiums are declining, more insurers are participating in the markets, and enrollment is at an all-time high. Dig a little deeper, and Obamacare’s troubles become evident. Premiums are ticking down only after rising for years. Much of the coverage on offer...

Senate Democrats have delayed action on their multi-trillion-dollar Build Back Better Act until the New Year. If it passes, even more people will be dependent on the federal government for health coverage. It would represent the latest stepping-stone toward single-payer health care, which progressives like Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have dreamed of implementing for some time. New research from the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank, offers a glimpse of what can happen when the government completely dominates the healthcare market. This year, Canadians faced...

In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, there's some good news on the health care front. Cancer mortality rates are declining in the United States, according to a recent report from the National Cancer Institute. Sadly, patients in other countries may not be so lucky. Though the United States has a higher incidence of cancer, other wealthy nations report worse outcomes in terms of recovery and survival. This points to the effectiveness of American health care and reveals the flaws in other...

Earlier this month, the Biden administration mandated that employees at businesses with more than 100 workers be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing starting at the beginning of next year. Just two days later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit halted the order in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of businesses and state attorneys general. The court upheld the pause Friday after an appeal from the Biden administration. Trade groups representing retail, trucking, and independent...

Inflation is worrying Americans, and for good reason. The latest inflation report, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) released on November 10th, showed that prices were 6.2 percent higher in October 2021 compared to October 2020. More troubling, this was the fifth month in a row where the annual growth in CPI inflation exceeded five percent. Digging deeper into the CPI data provides important perspective on another pressing issue – the growth in drug prices. While fluid, the so-called Build Back Better...

Just a few days ago, it appeared that Democrats had given up on including prescription drug pricing reforms in their massive spending bill. But not anymore. In an eleventh-hour turn of events, congressional Democrats this week resurrected their long-standing desire to levy government price controls on prescription drugs. If lawmakers successfully deploy their latest price-control gambit, then patients today and in the future will miss out on state-of-the-art treatments that will never be invented. According to early reports, the new drug-pricing proposal would do away with Medicare Part...

Allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices is a politically winning talking point. According to polling, Americans from across the political spectrum support this government intervention. However, the talking point is only a political winner if it is presented without context. Americans back the policy if it leads to direct savings in their pocketbooks while not diminishing access to life-saving therapies — whether through less investment in research and development by the pharmaceutical industry or restricted access to approved treatments. That this...

Last week, President Joe Biden unveiled a new social spending framework that omitted many of the healthcare provisions Democrats have been calling for. One provision that has survived is a massive and wasteful expansion of Obamacare . In March, Congress made federal tax credits available to those shopping for coverage on the exchanges with incomes above 400% of the federal poverty level — about $106,000 for a family of four. Those tax credits cap what they’d have to spend on a benchmark health plan at 8.5% of...

Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., declared that expanding Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing benefits as part of the massive $3.5 trillion spending bill winding its way through Congress was "not negotiable." His hardline position is unsurprising. After all, he is the country's most high-profile proponent of a complete government takeover of health insurance. Assigning the federal government responsibility for seniors' dental, vision, and hearing care would seem to represent one more step toward Medicare for All. But it's odd for a self-styled...

Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, indicated that one provision of Congress's massive spending bill was "not negotiable." Namely, expanding Medicare to include hearing, dental, and vision benefits. It's an odd place to draw the line. Many seniors already have those benefits, so the proposal is largely unnecessary. And despite the plan's exorbitant costs, the expansion would still fail to deliver much of the care it promises. Nearly half of the Medicare population, more than 26 million seniors , is...