Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
Some of the most life-saving medications remain out of reach for far too many working families and seniors. We must empower consumers, plans, providers and pharmacies to make informed, cost-effective and clinically appropriate decisions. As Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member, I joined Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) last month in releasing a bipartisan framework for legislative solutions to modernize and enhance federal prescription drug programs, with the goal of reducing drug costs for patients and taxpayers.
Medicare and Medicaid are not living up to their potential of delivering affordable prescription drugs. This is due in large part to the complex and murky arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers, health insurance plans and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) that have evolved within this system. Federal policy has not kept pace. Simply put, we must shed light on these practices so Idahoans and all consumers can make more informed decisions about their prescription spending and these programs can operate more efficiently for patients and taxpayers.
The legislative framework I worked with Chairman Wyden to develop outlines four key challenges currently facing federal prescription drug programs, including:
The Start of the Solutions:
The legislative framework we put forward identifies potential policy solutions that will address these challenges, including:
In weighing and developing policy solutions, my priority is always the patient. A few major points regularly raised by Idahoans--transparency, incentives and out-of-pocket costs--drive my efforts to enact solutions. We need to identify avenues for lowering out-of-pocket costs, increasing competition and promoting access to life-saving innovation—and we need to do so in a fiscally responsible manner. Throughout this process of further refining these and other solutions, I am pressing for policies that make life-saving prescriptions more affordable, and pressing back against policies that add complication and expense without benefitting Idahoans.
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