Several recent editorials and opinion pieces addressed entitlement spending, including a bill passed last week by the House that would require the HHS secretary to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies on prices for medications under the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Summaries appear below.
- Boston Globe: The House bill “stops short of providing Medicare all the authority it would need to get the lowest possible prices” because it “does not permit Medicare to bar drugs whose companies decline to sell them at discounted prices,” a Globe editorial states. Even so, the requirement would give the HHS secretary “a bully pulpit to hold down the prices of specific, popular drugs for which Medicare recipients are paying substantially more” than the Department of Veterans Affairs or Medicaid, according to the editorial (Boston Globe, 1/26).
- Charleston Daily Mail: “Those who favor bigger government and more generous benefits must recognize that the resources will come out of the private sector and out of economic growth rates,” a Daily Mail editorial states. The editorial concludes that it is a “[n]asty situation, and politicians will face up to it only when Americans do. For the sake of the kids, that needs to be soon” (Charleston Daily Mail, 1/25).
- Peoria Journal Star: President Bush’s vow to veto the recent House legislation because he claims it is “government interference” makes “no sense whatsoever,” a Journal Star editorial states, noting that the “very existence of Medicare interferes in a way that enormously benefits the private market, by letting employers unload health care liability for those 65 and older onto taxpayers’ shoulders.” The editorial concludes, “The Senate should follow the House’s lead and pass a bill freeing up Medicare to seek the best savings possible, both for the seniors enrolled and for the taxpayers who foot the bill for the bulk of their coverage” (Peoria Journal Star, 1/25).
- Kristina Lybecker, Chicago Tribune: “Women need to pay particular attention to the negative impact” of price negotiations under Medicare Part D because women, who live longer than men and therefore are enrolled in Medicare for longer periods of time, “are major stakeholders in the debate over Medicare’s future,” Lybecker, an assistant professor of economics at Lake Forest College, writes in a Tribune opinion piece. “What would government intervention buy you?” Lybecker asks, concluding, “As an economist — and as a woman — the answer is less choice and less innovation, a price I am not willing to pay” (Lybecker, Chicago Tribune, 1/23).
- Heiko Wijnholds, Richmond Times-Dispatch: “If the administration is truly concerned about combating the rising prices of pharmaceutical drugs and about the maintenance of the integrity of the free market for such, the answer is clear” in the debate about government negotiation for drug prices, Wijnholds, a professor of marketing at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business, writes in a Times-Dispatch opinion piece. He concludes, “Allow price bargaining as a first step to ensure affordable health care before political and economic developments force the issue in less palatable directions” (Wijnholds, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/22).