Kerrigan in the Washington Times: “Competition is the Key to Lower Drug Prices”

By at 17 April, 2019, 7:58 am

How Price Controls for Part B Drugs Threaten “Mom and Pop” Doctors’ Offices

In an April 16 Op-ed in The Washington Times, SBE Council president & CEO Karen Kerrigan reports on the big problems for small businesses with regard to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposal that would use international price controls to set U.S. drug prices on certain Medicare Part B drugs.

Specifically, Kerrigan noted the danger to small oncology practices, which in the end would harm patients access to life-saving drugs and treatments.

“Under the plan, Medicare would tether payments for these therapies to an index of what our competitors abroad reimburse for the same products; putting the world’s most innovative drug market at the mercy of what bureaucrats in Slovakia and Greece are willing to shell out for lifesaving care.

One might think of this policy as impacting large hospital systems and health care conglomerates, but nearly 50 percent of physicians who provide at least 20 hours of patient care per week own their own practices. What’s more, a 2016 survey from the American Society of Clinical Oncology found that 46 percent of oncologists offices — where many of these Part B drugs are administered — are small practices with anywhere from one to five oncologists.

These are not corporate giants with lobbyists and lawyers. They are small practices run by physician-owners in our communities.

If Washington slashes their reimbursement rates for Part B drugs, physicians could simply stop providing the treatments — instead referring patients to more costly hospital settings — or, worse, these community-based practices could close altogether. Unfortunately, that is the current trend given declining reimbursement and other cost issues, which will only accelerate under an IPI scheme. This means patients will have less access to cancer care and other treatments, or be forced into higher-priced hospital settings.”

Kerrigan concludes with an alternative proposal and urges the Administration to pull back from price controls and move forward with policies that promote competition.

Read the full piece here.


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