Drug importation is no longer a pipe dream. Now it’s a pipe bomb.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently floated a proposal, dubbed the Safe Importation Action Plan, to allow Americans to use Canada as their personal pharmacy. In Canada, the government dictates the market through price controls, but any drug importation scheme should give Americans pause.
Remember, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated over and over again that our government cannot vouch for the safety and efficacy of Canadian medicines. Pushing this policy through would needlessly threaten patient health and well-being. And here’s a key fact that’s being ignored: It’s infeasible. Canada simply doesn’t have enough drugs to share with United States.
The so-called Safe Importation Action Plan offers two paths forward for drug importation. First, states, wholesalers or pharmacists could submit plans for demonstration projects for HHS to review outlining how they would import Health Canada-approved drugs, Second, manufacturers could import versions of existing FDA-approved drugs into the United States.
Recently, I chaired a discussion at CPAC on the importance of choice in health care, and specifically health care coverage. My fellow panelists talked about government rule-making, Medicare waivers and the many problems that approaches like “Medicare for All” create — such as interposing Uncle Sam between physicians and patients. All important aspects of the health care puzzle — but nothing that hasn’t been turned over more than once in a wonky world of $5 words and inside the Beltway policy chatter.
|Price controls prevent drug companies from even having a chance to profit, thus destroying the incentive to invest. Developing a new prescription drug is an extremely risky endeavor, typically taking up to 15 years and $2.6 billion. The failure rate is extremely high; about 9-in-10 experimental drugs that enter clinical trials never receive regulatory approval. Investors are only willing to fund this risky research because they might profit if a drug is successful. Artificially capping drug prices would also discourage research and the development of tomorrow’s miracle drugs.|
The Trump administration approved Arizona’s request to attach work requirements to Medicaid coverage, making it the eighth state to condition benefits on seeking a job, going to school or otherwise engaging in the community.
Enrolled members of federally recognized Indian tribes — who noted their sovereignty — will be exempt from the rules, which will take effect in January 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said.
Federal law might be hard to change in Washington, but in some cases, states are able to take advantage of flexibility built into federal law to develop new programs and approaches. This is true under federal Medicaid law and it is also true under the ACA, which is why CMS recently stepped up efforts to support state-specific strategies to improve their individual health insurance markets and to develop alternatives to Obamacare that better meet the needs of their residents.
Louisiana’s legislative auditor wanted to know how the state’s expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare was doing, so he picked 100 people who were deemed eligible under the rules.
He found that 82 of them made so much money that they shouldn’t have qualified for the benefits they received.
Auditor Daryl G. Purpera, who issued his findings last month to little fanfare outside of Louisiana, figured if those statistics hold true for the rest of the expanded Medicaid population in his state, then the losses to ineligible beneficiaries could be as high as $85 million.