Senate Democrats recently proposed yet another bill that would be awful for patients nationwide. This time, it’s humorously titled the “SMART Prices Act.”
First the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), now the SMART Prices Act. Democratic leaders in Washington sure have a knack for naming bills as ironically as possible. Essentially nothing from the SMART Prices Act is smart, and the bill would negatively impact seniors, people with disabilities, and countless others. By expanding the disastrous IRA’s drug price-setting provisions, the SMART Prices Act would attack the drug access that countless of high-risk patients depend on, ruin future research and development efforts that could create the cures that have eluded us, and limit the options available to Medicare beneficiaries.
The Strengthening Medicare and Reducing Taxpayer (SMART) Prices Act seeks to double down on IRA policies that, despite being less than a year old, have already proven to hurt patients more than help them. Critical research into treatments that sought to fight cancer in innovative ways, for example, have been shelved due to the SMART Prices Act’s predecessor. This time, the bill seeks to impose a price mandate on medicines just five years after FDA approval and expand the medicines that qualify for price-setting. Being able to field the same formulary to Medicare Part D patients would be made even more difficult under these circumstances. Not only are patients being ignored by this bill, but it would disincentivize drug companies from investing in new treatments moving forward.
It is mind-boggling that now twenty-seven Democratic Senators support this bill despite the evidence screaming at them not to.
But let’s restate why imposing drug price controls is a bad policy for patients since it seems to have slipped from lawmakers’ minds – already. Price controls on Medicare drugs limit the amount of R&D manufacturers are able to invest in because they must meet mandates by the government to artificially lower prices. This means that the drug options available to seniors on Medicare (many of which undergo trial and error over which drugs work best for their health) will be severely hampered. Medicine has never been a “one-size-fits-all” industry, and Congress’s insistence on making it one throws patients and those hoping for better treatments by the wayside.
The ramifications of expanding Medicare drug price controls are very serious. Efforts to cure cancer being extinguished is very much on the table, and there are better ways to lower drug costs than continuously opting to bash the only industry devoted to curing these diseases. Fighting the anti-free market practices of monopolistic PBM middlemen, ending copay accumulators, and boosting competition should be considered. Instead, Congress is showing the American people that it is more interested in scoring political brownie points from the Left than actually solving the problem of high drug costs for patients.
What Congress does next will be a critical inflection point for the country. If the SMART Prices Act passes it would prove that we are beyond the point of return in embracing the errors of socialized medicine. If it is rejected, there is still hope that America can remain the epicenter of medical innovation and hope for eradicated illnesses remains alive. This should be an obvious decision for our elected leaders in high office to make, but will it be?