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.

The price of health insurance has skyrocketed in recent years, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Average annual premiums for employer-based family plans have risen by 22% percent since 2018, to nearly $24,000. It's tempting to see these hikes as a shameless cash-grab by avaricious insurers. But there are more systemic factors fueling the growth of health costs. Only by attacking these root causes can policymakers bring down the cost of coverage without compromising the quality of...

The Biden administration recently announced the first 10 drugs that will be subject to price controls under Medicare as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. The president celebrated the occasion, saying, "We took on Big Pharma and special interests, overcoming opposition from every Republican in Congress, and the American people won." "Won?" The next generation of American patients will not feel like they "won" when they're stuck waiting even longer for effective treatments -- if those treatments ever materialize. Read the full...

The House Committee on Oversight and Accountability met last week for a hearing on the Inflation Reduction Act's first year. As one of the witnesses pointed out, the law's implementation — particularly its drug pricing reforms — have already run afoul of some of our government's most basic norms of transparency and accountability. The IRA gives federal officials the authority to dictate what Medicare pays for certain medicines — a scheme intended to reduce the government's drug bill. Late last month,...

New vaccines for scourges like malaria and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. New cancer drugs that can cut death rates by half or even cause complete remission. The discovery of a biomarker that could identify people who would benefit from investigational drugs for Parkinson’s Disease. Breakthrough treatments that curb obesity and other addictive behaviors. Innovations like these have led The New York Times to declare the 2020s a “golden age for medicine.” But this golden age might be cut short, and a...

Immigration, always a strength for the U.S. economy, has the potential to fill a dangerous and growing labor shortage of skilled nurses. According to nurse.org’s 2023 State of Nursing report, “91% of nurses believe the nursing shortage is getting worse, and 79% report that their units are inadequately staffed.” And it’s not just nurses who recognize this problem. 90% of hospital CEOs report that nursing shortages are their most pressing workplace issue. Burnout from Covid-19 is an important contributor to this problem. A survey by NCSBN (an organization...

Congress is looking to narrow our nation's doctor shortage. After introducing legislation that would reform our primary care system, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said last month , "Tens of millions of Americans live in communities where they cannot find a doctor while others have to wait months to be seen." The Vermont socialist is right. Too many people do struggle to find a doctor. But his preferred solution — spending tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to recruit and train...

Beneficial healthcare change is occurring – in a bipartisan manner too. The reform, referred to as the Transparency in Coverage (Tic) rule, improves the functioning of the healthcare market; and unlike the calls for price controls or increased government distortions, improving the efficiency of the healthcare market can achieve the core goals of promoting greater healthcare affordability and improving the quality of care. TiC went into effect July 1, 2022. Unique among today’s partisan rancor, the TiC rule was issued under the Trump...

America is facing a chronic doctor shortage. Solving that problem will require not just more doctors but a much bigger role for advanced-practice nurses in our healthcare system. A 2021 report found that the United States will need nearly as many as 48,000 more primary care doctors by 2034 to meet patient demand. It’s infeasible to train that many more new doctors over the next decade. We need to make better use of the supply of healthcare professionals we have. In nearly...

President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act is just eight months old. It hasn’t yet slayed inflation. But it’s already gutting drug research and development. The law gives Medicare the power to impose price controls on certain prescription drugs for the first time. By September, federal officials will select the first 10 medicines subject to price-setting from those covered by the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. The price caps for these drugs will go into effect in January 2026. In the months leading...

What's the difference between getting an x-ray at the hospital and getting one at the doctor's office? The former could cost a lot more than the latter. Medicare often reimburses hospitals more than it pays doctor's offices for the same procedure. Hospitals claim these payment differentials are necessary because they are subject to more extensive regulatory requirements and face other fees; higher payments offset those costs. In reality, these uneven payments simply incentivize the most wasteful and monopolistic tendencies in American health care. Click to read...

Should the government put a price on human life? The new head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., doesn't think so. She recently introduced legislation alongside several of her colleagues to ban the use of "quality-adjusted life years," or QALYs, in federal healthcare programs. A QALY purports to measure the value of one additional year of life. A QALY of one is equivalent to one year of life in perfect health. A value of zero is death. Economists sometimes try to...

Americans are getting squeezed by rising health care costs. The latest numbers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show that patient out-of-pocket spending increased by 10.4% in 2021, a rate not seen for more than three decades. The cost of monthly health insurance premiums also leapt, by 6.5%. And that was all before last year’s rapid inflation squeezed household budgets. One often overlooked cause of soaring health care costs is hospital consolidation. When a single health care system becomes...

A group of 25 senators, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), requested that HHS Sec. Xavier Becerra exercise march-in rights for Xtandi (enzalutamide), a prostate cancer therapeutic. March-in rights give the government the right to take a license for itself if it helped to fund the product owner's research . . . “Net prices, which take into account discounts and rebates, have been going down for several years,” Wayne Winegarden, Ph.D., senior fellow, business and economics, Pacific Research Institute, told BioSpace. “Gross...

The U.S. Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services has issued a new joint federal rule. Another federal mandate is hardly newsworthy, but one devised under the Trump Administration and eagerly implemented by the Biden Administration is certainly unique. Beyond the politics, the Transparency in Coverage rule, while not without its shortcomings, helps to address on one of the fundamental flaws worsening the effectiveness of the nation’s healthcare system – its opacity. The lack of transparency that pervades the healthcare system...

Next month, Arizonans will consider Proposition 209, a ballot initiative intended to alleviate a supposed “crisis” in medical debt. A look at the facts reveals there is no such crisis. If this ballot initiative passes, ordinary Arizonans could face higher interest rates on all kinds of debt, have fewer lenders to choose from and pay higher prices for goods and services. The initiative has two parts. The first caps the interest rate for medical expenses at 3%. The second imposes sweeping new limits on how lenders...

A new poll from West Health and Gallup paints a grim picture of health care in the United States. Among the survey's most striking findings is that three-quarters of the country grades the cost of care at either a D or an F. Critics of our nation's market-based health system are sure to see these survey findings as evidence that the status quo is broken. But what person wouldn't want to pay less for health care — or any other good or service they desire? By...

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recent decision on home healthcare services, if implemented, will increase overall healthcare expenditures and decrease the quality of services received by patients. CMS’ overarching goal is praiseworthy – the agency is trying to maintain budget neutrality while changing its payment system rates. A more praiseworthy goal would be to reduce expenditures but that is a different question, the larger problem is that CMS’ proposed expenditure reductions will more likely increase spending over time. At...

The wife of California Republican congressman Tom McClintock, Lori McClintock, died of dehydration due to gastroenteritis caused by “adverse effects of white mulberry leaf ingestion,” according to a just-released coroner’s report. That herb is just one of many dubious and potentially life-threatening herbal remedies and other dietary supplements on the market today. Dietary supplements are big business. Three out of four Americans take one or more regularly. For older Americans, the fraction is four out of five. One in three children also takes supplements....

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) deploy numerous anticompetitive actions, which have not gone unnoticed. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched an inquiry to examine whether PBMs have adverse impacts “on the access and affordability of prescription drugs.” The government’s probe is welcome news. But there are many detrimental PBM practices that are creating unwarranted risks to patients’ health and, consequently, require remedying sooner rather than later. The growing restrictions on where providers can source their drugs, a practice referred to as white bagging,...

Among the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act's most destructive provisions are the price controls it puts on prescription drugs through Medicare. These price controls are certain to have a chilling effect on pharmaceutical innovation in the years ahead. But the precise manner in which the IRA will undermine biomedical research and development — and deprive future patients of breakthrough treatments — is worth considering. The law could end up discouraging exactly the kinds of scientific inquiry — and commercial development — that patients need. First, some background. In an...