Editor’s note: The following letter was submitted as an open letter to U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse.
Dear Senator Sasse,
We are writing you today to express our concerns regarding the proposal by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to force international price controls on medications under Medicare Part B. While we appreciate any Congressional efforts to lower health care costs for Nebraskans, we have concerns with the impact of this proposal and the slippery slope it would create.
The International Pricing Index proposed by Sec. Alex Azar would impose disruptive changes on medications in the health care marketplace and set their prices based on an international model. This proposal is counter intuitive to the principles of our health care system.
A central pillar of what makes the U.S. health care system unique is how we base our care on the free market and the highest quality of care available. Through advanced research and innovation, many lifesaving drugs are now utilized in programs such as Medicare Part B to tackle difficult conditions such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
Our health care system does not always work as intended and is in dire need of improvement. However, the International Pricing Index model is based off of countries with single-payer health systems that act very differently than our own. If we adopt this proposal, the federal government would be given control over prices and could dictate which medications patients can and cannot access in these vital programs.
This approach is misguided. The medications that would be impacted are currently available to nearly 340,000 Nebraskans under Medicare Part B. This proposal threatens our nation’s free-market health care system and could prevent Nebraska seniors and vulnerable patients from gaining access to specific treatments they rely on.
Allowing the government to make choices based solely on price is not in the best interest of patients. We need to be focusing on proposals that improve access to lifesaving medications while lowering co-pays.
As conservatives, we value life from conception until death. As part of that commitment, we must advocate for policies that protect our most vulnerable patients and give them the tools to receive life-saving, innovative treatments. A system based on the free-market — not on price controls — makes this high standard of care possible.
We hope that the reasons laid out in this letter will help bring a valuable perspective to your position. We encourage you to speak out against this concerning proposal to implement international prices on medications for some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.
Sincerely, Senator Tom Brewer, District 43; Senator Robert Clements, District 2; Senator Steve Erdman, District 47; Senator Tim Gragert, District 40; and Senator John Stinner, District 48