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Opinion | Working at state and federal levels to oppose government mandates

For employers, pharmacy benefit companies provide much-needed flexibility that makes it easier to offer coverage to their employees.

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Serving as probate judge of Cleburne County has been the honor of a lifetime, and every day I show up to work ready to put the people of our county and state first. One of the most important jobs I have, and why I was elected to office, was for my strong support of free-market ideals and willingness to fight against the left’s nefarious schemes to rid our state and country of the fundamental principles on which our nation was founded.

As I continue to work to uphold these very ideals, I am comforted to know many of my colleagues who have been elected to represent Alabamans at the federal level are doing the same thing. The latest attempt from the socialist left in our nation’s capital to target our pharmacy benefits is nothing short of a power grab so the government can control our entire health care system. 

We cannot allow this to happen, especially at the expense of patients, businesses, and taxpayers everywhere. Pharmacy benefit companies are instrumental members of the prescription drug supply chain that help drive down costs and encourage greater competition so patients can have access to more affordable alternatives to brand-name medications. They help save patients and payers an average of $1,040 per person per year, and save employers more than $800 per patient per year on prescription drug costs. 

For employers, pharmacy benefit companies provide much-needed flexibility that makes it easier to offer coverage to their employees and their families. In fact, a recent survey found that nearly nine-in-ten employers say their pharmacy benefit company is valuable in helping their organization offer affordable benefits to their employees and more than 90 percent say it is essential to have flexibility when it comes to designing their drug benefits. 

Instead of making things easier for patients and business owners, certain Members of Congress, including Medicare-for-All advocates Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are pushing policies that undermine the flexibility employers rely on by limiting choices and increasing prescription drug costs. They aim to do this with new government mandates that allow the government to dictate what happens in the prescription drug market. 

A recent piece in Forbes from Jack Kemp Foundation Senior Fellow Ike Brannon and DePaul University Economics Professor Anthony Lo Sasso pointed out one of the unintended negative consequences of targeting pharmacy benefit companies, writing that: “One particularly destructive provision among the PBM reform proposals would prohibit linkages between pharmacy benefit companies’ compensation and prescription drug list prices in Medicare Part D. A recent NBER paper authored by University of Chicago Professor Casey Mulligan finds that such a provision would undermine incentives for pharmacy benefit companies to maximize competition in the market and secure savings for patients and health plan sponsors. Mulligan estimates that taxpayers and patients would see drug prices increase by $18 billion and Medicare premiums go up by $10 billion.” 

It’s astonishing that certain lawmakers in Congress are choosing to ignore the blatant negative effects and more bloated, unnecessary government spending that comes with misguided proposals targeting pharmacy benefits, just because it helps get the socialist Left what they want – a nationalized health care system. 

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Luckily, we have elected officials, like Senator Tuberville who already voted against one of the policies targeting our pharmacy benefits and free market in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) earlier this year. Let’s hope he continues down this path as more proposals make their way across the legislature. 

We need the Alabama Congressional Delegation to stand up against these policies and help us combat unnecessary government overregulation at the federal level.

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