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Opinion: Missouri Lawmakers Need to Protect our Free-Market Health Care System

Missouri is one of the few lucky states to still have strong free market advocates representing us in Congress. We have leaders like Senator Eric Schmitt and Representative Eric Burlison who are truly working every day on behalf of Missourians to protect and defend our conservative values while promoting free enterprise and competition.

I’m particularly thankful for their strong stances against the Democrats attempt at driving our health care system towards a universal, ‘Medicare-for-All’ type model. For example, Senator Schmitt rejected the Pharmacy Benefit Manager Transparency Act (S.127) earlier this year in the Senate Commerce Committee. This legislation that would have extended the government’s hand in our prescription drug supply chain allowing a Federal agency to dictate the winners and losers, rather than the marketplace. If this bill is implemented, it would set a dangerous precedent for government control over the private dealings of businesses in all sectors of the economy.

Representative Burlison has been outspoken about his support for the free market, especially our pharmacy benefits, in our health care system time and time again. He notably said, “There’s this belief that we can force a free market if we only regulate it, if we only pass enough laws, and that if we just pass this one more law, then we can start seeing costs come down … And I’ve become convinced that we’re only pushing ourselves towards a single-payer model.” I wholeheartedly agree, as it has become painfully clear that the Left has never seen an industry in America that it doesn’t want to regulate until the government gains full control – hurting consumers, businesses, and patients alike.

Representative Burlison also pointed out that “the assumption here is that businesses are not capable of negotiating with PBMs. And I can tell you firsthand, having been someone who’s served in a capacity where we had to negotiate and take bids from insurance carriers and decide if we’re going to stay with that carrier or go to a different carrier or hire a PBM or not hire a PBM, those decisions to suggest that the decision-makers, that was whoever is running an HR company and an ERISA plan, or the president of a company, that they don’t care about the lives of their employees is hogwash. They care about the lives of employees; they care about the product that they’re getting. They care about the prescriptions and the cost of those prescriptions. And what they don’t want to see happen is these costs get overrun.”

Both Senator Schmitt and Congressman Burlison recognize that unnecessary government intervention and limiting the choices health plan sponsors have when designing their benefits only leads to increased costs for patients and families, as well as taxpayers.

Joe Grogan, visiting senior fellow at the USC Schaeffer Center and former domestic policy adviser in the Trump Administration, recently sounded the alarm on one of the proposals to ban performance-based incentives for pharmacy benefit companies. He warned that “delinking will impose costs on patients. A decrease in the size of negotiated rebates caused by the removal of incentives means plan premiums would increase by as much as $10 billion a year for seniors, causing patients to purchase less coverage and limit use of other services, with knock-on health effects increasing spending by as much as $600 million.”

Any strong proponent of free market ideals understands that government control leads to higher costs, and our health care system is no different. Any attempt to dismantle free market forces in our health care system should be opposed by lawmakers who truly care about supporting our business owners and their employees.

I hope our elected officials we voted to represent us in Congress continue to stand against unnecessary government intervention in all sectors, but especially in health care. Please follow the example that Senator Schmitt and Congressman Burlison have set.