Presidential Said No To Socialized Medicine, Then Said Yes

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In his State of the Union Address, President Trump said, “We will never let socialism destroy American healthcare.”

Yet just recently, the president signed an executive order regarding prescription drugs covered under Medicare that effectively implements a socialist model. His executive order says that it is to be the policy for the Medicare Program not to pay more for Part B prescription drugs or biological products than the most-favored nation price. The problem is, several of the “most-favored” nations feature single-payer healthcare markets that are warped by socialist price controls.

It sounds noble to want to reduce drug prices, which is what the president claims his executive order will do. The reality is, implementation of the executive order will have grave implications for Americans’ healthcare.

Most notably, the president’s executive order will make sweeping changes to the drug and biological supply chain in America and will have implications for manufacturers and distributors of lifesaving drugs, as well as for group purchasing organizations, hospitals, and physician clinics, among others.

The president’s executive order will be imposed on a large share of physicians and hospitals nationwide and will reduce reimbursement for the hospitals and physicians’ practices. This could force many of them to close and consolidate with larger health systems, thus making healthcare less accessible.

Implementing the president’s executive order will also restrict patient access to lifesaving drugs. Just as an example, 95 percent of new cancer drugs are available in the United States; only 55 percent are available in countries the Trump administration itself has examined. Moreover, the average lag between the time cancer drugs are available in the United States compared to elsewhere is 17 months.

It should be obvious to any observer of global healthcare policy that socialist price controls are harmful to patients and would be harmful to the American economy.

So, why would President Trump, who so recently railed against injecting socialism into American healthcare, now trumpet a system that effectively imports socialist controls?

The answer is battleground state presidential politics.

President Trump says one thing in the State of the Union address, and does something else when he realizes he needs a talking point to shore up senior citizen support in the battleground state of Florida. On July 30, he tweeted, “Drug prices will soon be lowered massively.” It’s a talking point that probably appeals to retirees in Florida. Yet the cost the president’s executive order to Americans will be measured in diminished health and lost lives.

President Trump says one thing when speaking to American pharmaceutical companies about being an advocate for research and development and negates it when his polls are flagging. We have all seen in recent months what an important part of our nation’s strategic capabilities that the pharmaceutical research companies are. As Americans, we are accustomed to receiving excellent healthcare and have strived to build a better healthcare system than those that exist in foreign countries, where under socialist systems people suffer without proper medications and too often die early because they lack lifesaving medicines.

To be sure, many pharmaceutical companies receive government grants to engage in the research and development of new drugs. Yet the president’s executive order is not good for building trust, and it is not conducive to forging the public-private partnerships needed to develop new medicines, especially in the battle against a foe like COVID-19. It’s foolish to punish innovative drug companies that would otherwise engage in aggressive research and development.

The scientists who develop miracle cures are betrayed by the president’s executive order, healthcare providers are betrayed, and ultimately patients are betrayed.

Copyright 2020 Sara Croom, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Sara Croom is the executive director at the Trade Alliance to Promote Prosperity. She can be reached at [email protected]

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Trump’s Medicare Plan Would Be Terrible for Healthcare

“First, do no harm.”

That’s the most basic and sacrosanct principle in all of medicine, and Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar should take serious note of it before going ahead with a poorly drawn, “race to the bottom” plan to index Medicare Part –drug prices to countries with socialized health care, where government bureaucrats undervalue and tightly ration access to lifesaving drugs and treatments developed here in the United States.

During his campaign, President Trump promised to put a stop to bad trade agreements that rip off American business and workers. He also vowed to protect Medicare, encourage lifesaving medical innovations, and unleash free market forces into the health care system. This so-called “International Price Index” scheme would accomplish none of the above.

Trump’s plan would jeopardize the coming generation of groundbreaking research and medical advancements – and quick access to those breakthroughs for 44 million Medicare recipients – while drastically undervaluing the current generation of Medicare Part –drugs.Whatever price reductions might result from this debacle would not come close to compensating for the permanent, long-term damage.

Here in America, we have medical research figured out. America’s biopharmaceutical industry and American taxpayers – including Medicare recipients who have paid into the system from their first day on the job – have a partnership that is the envy of the world. Other nations know it, and they benefit from our hard-won intellectual property without paying one dime in return. Instead, using mandated price controls that can’t be negotiated, they ration the lifesaving drugs and therapies we develop here in America to their people on the cheap.

It’s the mother of all bad trade agreements.

In fact, Next year, Congress will send more than $36 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for medical research into hundreds of diseases that afflict and destroy the lives of tens of millions of people. America’s biopharmaceutical industry will then add more than $90 billion to take what is learned at NIH and develop new ways to prevent, diagnose, treat and ultimately cure disease. On average, it can take 10 to 15 years, and more than $1 billion, to bring a promising new drug to market.

That’s a lot of time and money, but our system produces real results. Thanks to lifesaving medical research and hundreds of new, highly effective drugs, the life expectancy here in America has almost doubled in just a few generations. Between 2010 and 2018, Americans had access to 95 percent of the hundreds of new cancer drugs and therapies brought to market. By contrast, those percentages drop drastically for nations like Britain, Japan, and Greece, where socialized medicine and price controls undervalue and severely limit access to new drugs.

Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what would happen if America’s world-class public-private partnership in biomedical research and development were to be clobbered by the same price controls imposed by nations tied to a completely unrealistic “International Price Index.”

Medicare and Medicare patients would suffer. With its products badly undervalued, America’s biopharmaceutical industry would have no choice but to cut back on expensive, time-consuming research and development into treatments for stubborn and perplexing diseases that widely target Medicare seniors – cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart disease, just to name a few.

In addition, as supplies of existing drugs become more scarce, Medicare patients would be forced to wait longer to obtain them. Meanwhile, medical conditions become worse and more expensive to treat. That hurts people’s health and drives up the cost of Medicare.

The administration’s plan would also devastate rural hospitals and our entire rural health care delivery system, because small rural communities tend to have older people on Medicare. And the lifeblood of rural health care lies in the ability of small hospitals and clinics to deliver care to Medicare recipients. As Medicare limits access to drugs and become more expensive, rural medical facilities would find it harder to successfully treat Medicare patients, survive economically, and attract good doctors.

Now here’s a better idea for the president and Secretary Azar – instead of allowing other countries with socialized medicine to use our medical research for free and undervalue the drugs we develop here in America, let’s negotiate agreements that require other nations to pay their fair share. That way, we can give NIH a big boost, and save more lives here and all around the world.

Copyright 2018 Sara Croom, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Sara Croom is the executive director at the Trade Alliance to Promote Prosperity. She can be reached at [email protected]

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