Press "Enter" to skip to content

Opinion: Hope for the next Congress

This past election day, numerous issues were at the top of minds for voters across the country. Here in Missouri, local ballot measures on state finances and police efforts were popular topics of discussion. And on the federal ticket, party control of the Senate and House was a key deciding factor for many.

For some voters, the policy decisions that were made, or lack thereof, over the last two years swayed opinions on how to vote. For me, the votes around past legislative healthcare efforts were the most important.

For example, in the Inflation Reduction Act, a Medicare negotiation rule was woven into the text. This provision gives the federal government the ability to fix the prices of certain prescription medications, increasing control and influence in the marketplace. I worry that as a result of this, current access to care could worsen, research on existing drug development could slow, and new treatments may not come to market. All of these factors could ultimately make patients suffer the most.

The Inflation Reduction Act was a partisan piece of legislation that was rushed through votes and passage for midterm election talking points. If politicians took the time to actually think through the implications of these policies, patients and their families would be in a much better position.

That is why after casting my votes and seeing how Congress will look next year, I hope that real, bipartisan healthcare solutions can come to the table.

A great place for Republicans and Democrats in both chambers to start is around Pharmacy Benefit Manager reforms. Most people have never heard of PBMs, but they cause serious frustrations and accessibility issues for everyone. These insurance middlemen work to secure deals and rebates with drug manufactures. While this sounds like a helpful effort, PBMs end up pocketing the savings for themselves instead of passing down the benefits to the patients who need relief.

What makes matters worse is there is little to no transparency or oversight into PBM practices, leaving people to navigate uncertain territory. Compared to Medicare negotiation policies, PBM reforms can help lower out-of-pocket costs without risking the chances of hampering drug research and development.

I hope that our new Missouri delegation of both Republicans and Democrats recognize the anti-patient practices of Pharmacy Benefit Managers and lead the charge in passing reforms in Congress next session. There is a great opportunity here to pass helpful measures and avoid partisan gridlock.