Prescription drug pricing has quickly risen toward the top of the list of voter concerns. Democrats running for President have been talking about it for a long while, but now Republicans feel they need to have something to say. (See GOP hopefuls, long quiet on drug prices, begin to make some noise.)
I predict the GOP candidates will mainly fail to come up with compelling approaches. Why?
- It’s a complex, nuanced issue without simple, effective solutions. This is true of healthcare generally, which is why even now, more than 5 years after passage of the Affordable Care Act, Republicans still have not devised a credible plan to “replace” Obamacare. They’ve only worked to repeal it or have it declared unconstitutional. Republican ideas on healthcare reform mainly consist of feel good ideas with limited or no impact, cheap shots and unsupported assertions, and attempts to preserve popular parts of Obamacare while stripping away the foundations that make those aspects work
- In their search for a convenient villain, they’re apt to point their guns at the wrong target. The most popular approach seems to be to go after the FDA for slowing down drug approvals. Not to get too cute, but that’s kind of like attacking Iraq in response to 9/11.
The article includes certain wise things Republicans are saying on healthcare policy. But I want to point out that these won’t do anything to control drug prices:
- Expand public/private partnerships for drug development. (They would do well to look to the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research as an incredibly effective and efficient model that started in HIV but has since expanded to liver disease)
- Provide more funding for the NIH. We really need this if we are to stay ahead in the global competition for highly-educated talent. Yes, this policy would be even more effective if coupled with immigration reforms to enable graduates of US universities to stay after obtaining their degrees
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