As we head toward the end of the year, biopharmaceutical companies are announcing their pricing strategies for 2019.

Merck & Co. raised the list price of five drugs, including its blockbuster cancer treatment Keytruda, in November — raising the price of Keytruda by 1.5 percent and its human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil by about 6 percent. The other three treatments that saw increases were vaccines.According to Merck, the average net price of their drugs declined 1.9 percent in 2017.

A federal judge’s surprise move late in the day on Dec. 14 to strike down the Affordable Care Act statute in its entirety is sending shock waves through the political world, but a jubilant lawyer on the winning legal team said the court ruling strikes a blow for freedom, is constitutionally sound, and is here to stay.

The Dec. 14 ruling by Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas was hailed by President Donald Trump but promptly assailed by former President Barack Obama, his liberal allies, and some legal commentators, largely on hyper-technical procedural grounds as opposed to whether the law itself runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution.

They say nothing is certain in life except for death and taxes. At this point, we might add Obamacare lawsuits to that list.

In the latest stage of ongoing legal challenges, Judge Reed O’Connor of the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that actions by Congress last year effectively invalidated the nearly 9-year-old law. However, despite this latest development, the ACA is still the law of the land and it probably will remain that way.

Last week, a federal district court judge in Texas ruled that ObamaCare – in its entirety – is unconstitutional.

ObamaCare’s defenders plan to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. The legal fight could drag on for years.

If the ruling is upheld, it’ll be a huge victory for the millions of Americans struggling with higher health care costs thanks to ObamaCare’s onerous regulations. It’s time for Congress to acknowledge ObamaCare’s failures and devolve authority for health policy to the states.

“This legal verdict is a reminder that Obamacare’s faulty architecture was created by Washington and we should not expect Washington to make it better. Congress should resist any knee-jerk reactions that prop up a failing health law.

And they don’t need to buy into the false dilemma that only Obamacare allows Americans with pre-existing conditions to get coverage. Instead, Congress should let states review their health insurance regulations and pursue innovative ways to make coverage more affordable and accessible to Americans—regardless of their income or medical status.”

When a federal judge in Texas struck down the Affordable Care Act on Friday, ruling that its mandate requiring most people to buy health insurance was unconstitutional, it thrust Obamacare into the spotlight right at the deadline to sign up for next year’s coverage.

Open enrollment was scheduled to end on Saturday in most states, and every year, a surge of people sign up at the last minute.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent out an email to millions of Americans on Saturday trying to allay concerns, and HealthCare.gov displayed a red banner alerting people that the court’s decision would not affect open enrollment.

“The five hearings we held reminded us of something else we should agree on: one major reason for the unnecessarily high cost of health care is that the health care system does not operate with the discipline and cost saving benefits of a real market. Too many barriers to innovation drive up costs. And most Americans have no idea of the true price of the health care services they buy—which also drives up costs.”

—Sen. Lamar Alexander 

Please submit comments to LowerHealthCareCosts@help.senate.gov by March 1, 2019.

The scope of what can be changed under section 1332, at least in theory, is impressive. While states can’t alter the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, or allow insurers to deny coverage or charge higher premiums to consumers with high expected health costs, they can:

  • use federal funding for the premium tax credits payable under the ACA to provide subsidies to individuals in a different manner;
  • alter the essential health benefit requirements of the ACA;
  • change other ACA insurance rules; and
  • terminate the ACA exchanges while building new mechanisms for establishing enrollment in health coverage.

Planting a government-financed health-care system requires uprooting another–the employer-sponsored system–one that has grown, adapted, and evolved over decades. Policymakers should carefully weigh the implications of such a change, not merely for the public fisc, but for a health-care system that has long relied on employment-based insurance.

President Trump was elected on his promise to stop other nations from taking advantage of the United States. Our allies let us pay for most of their own national defense needs. Treaties allowed once poor countries to hit American products with tariffs and trade barriers. The Paris agreement on climate change burdened our manufacturers and workers, while letting China and India build and expand without such onerous restrictions.