Make No Mistake, Underwood’s Five Point Plan Nothing More Than Back Door Socialism by Empowering Government, Not Patients
On October 18, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood unveiled her “Five Point Plan” (5PP) for reducing prescription drug prices.
With typical Underwood fashion, she declared in her press release:
“Each concept in Underwood’s proposal has bipartisan support.”Lauren Underwood press release 10/18/19 emphasis added
As pointed out many times here on McHenry County Blog, Underwood plays fast & loose with the term “bipartisan”.
Her 5PP is no exception.
Everybody supports the goal of lower prescription drug prices, and anyone denying there is a problem is being intentionally naive.
President Trump has been very clear his genuine desire to see American prescription drug prices lowered.
But where Underwood’s statement goes astray is actually looking at her plan, where she lays out concepts, but slips in socialist approaches and socialist legislation in her 5PP.
To be very clear, anything to do with prescription drug pricing is complex, and the Republican candidates for the 14th district need to have a very firm grasp on this issue, because Underwood’s 5PP is her policy/position statement for her 2020 reelection campaign.
During the upcoming primary campaign, to measure a candidate’s ability to defeat Underwood next year, the candidate must be far beyond talking points, abstracts, bromides and platitudes.
Underwood has already published hers, and has done a big media rollout including an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune earlier this month.
And in the month since Underwood published her plan, no Republican candidate in the 14th district race has spoken out against it or offered their own plan to take to the voters.
The problems with high prescription drug prices requires a real bipartisan, holistic solution, not a leftist socialist solution.
So what is a bipartisan approach to solving the problem of expensive prescription drug prices?
Three and a half months prior to Underwood’s 5PP release, the House Problem Solvers Caucus (PSC) released their own, genuinely bipartisan approach to begin to solve this problem facing our country.
The PSC is a 48-member House caucus equally divided between Democrats and Republicans where members put down their party labels, and attempt to solve problems, very much like in the business world.
The PSC was crucial in passing the emergency funding for the southern border crisis back in late June (H.R. 3401).
At the time the PSC convinced Speaker Pelosi and the majority House Democrats to support the Senate-amended H.R. 3401 as is, the PSC had a press conference to unveil the bipartisan approach, agreed to between Democrats and Republicans alike, on how to resolve the high prices of prescription drugs.
- Access to medications for patients through more transparency, competition, and affordability in the U.S. prescription drug market.
- Price transparency standards that give patients, health care providers, and the federal government clear information about drug costs.
- Drug manufacturers should have to disclose, in a way consumers and providers can understand, the price of treatment for advertised drugs and explanation of prices.
- Pharmacy benefit managers should have to disclose, in a way consumers and providers can understand, the discounts they receive from drug manufacturers that impact the cost of medications for patients.
- Patent transparency standards that help new drugs come to market as soon as possible.
- Competition among drug manufacturers that ensures continued R&D, makes drugs more affordable, and increases access for patients who need them.
- Enforcement mechanisms that pave the way for new, more affordable drugs if other manufacturers do not comply with transparency standards or engage in anti-competitive behavior.
Pretty straight forward, relying on free market, but with necessary enforcement if companies do not voluntary comply to be competitive.
This brief video was the introduction of the PSC’s points, with Congressman David Joyce (R, OH) speaking:
So now, Underwood’s 5PP, per her news release, with comments in italics:
- Reduce out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs – (H.R. 3, H.R. 4457) H.R. 4457 is Underwood’s legislation to eliminate out-of-pocket costs for medications for some chronic conditions. Underwood does not tell you the elimination of the co-pays will raise insurance premiums for the rest of us. The $2,000 cap in H.R. 3, again, is an artificial cap, which patients will have to pay with higher private insurance premiums through Medicare Part D.
- Negotiate lower drug prices for all Americans – (HR. 3) While President Trump called for negotiated prices, he abandoned that position around the time negotiations between the Speaker broke down in September. The President no longer supports negotiated pricing. The fallacy of negotiated pricing and its impact on Americans is discussed in a video at the end of this article. Underwood attempts to demonize the pharmaceutical companies with incendiary talk like “price gouging”. She completely leaves out the impacts of suppliers, and the “middlemen” including pharmacy benefits managers (PBM). The President currently favors the Senate plan in S. 2543 opposed to H.R. 3.
- Eliminate outrageous price hikes – (H.R. 4663, H.R. 2296) H.R. 4663 is the Jan Schakowsky solution to punish drug manufacturers, while not addressing issues with suppliers and PBMs. Forcing Big Pharma to eat these costs will reduce the quality of research & development for new/better medications. H.R. 2296, known as the METRIC act, contains common sense reporting principles and is the basis for good legislation.
- Ensure generics remain affordable options – (H.R. 965, H.R. 1499) H.R. 965 can easily be the Lawyers’ Recovery Act of 2019, since it promotes litigation threats since generics come to market when a brand name drug patent expires. If patents reform is desired, address it. H.R. 1499 is the closest to addressing possible issues with patents, but it favors government mandates.
- Invest in research for tomorrow’s cures – (H.R. 2401) That is what the private sector is supposed to do, and this Underwood sponsored legislation wants to make significant transfer of pharmaceutical research & development to the government, deep left to socialism.
The key legislation is H.R. 3, and the video in this embedded tweet with Congressmen Dan Crenshaw (R, TX) and Greg Walden (R, OR) begins to explain the other flawed components of H.R. 3:
As Crenshaw and Walden release subsequent videos, we will bring them to readers.
To be clear, Crenshaw and Walden barely scratched the surface on the problems with H.R. 3.
UPDATE (11/22/19): Here’s Video #2