February 8, 2024 (Washington, D.C.) The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) released the following statement in advance of today’s U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions hearing on prescription drugs:
“Reducing health care costs both for patients and system wide is a critical mission for decision makers in Washington, and across the country. What can’t seem to be agreed upon is what’s driving those costs, and how best to address them.
“Today’s HELP hearing highlights the misguided approach to making headway on health care costs in a way that productively improves overall health outcomes. Instead, Congress should be taking more effective steps to address the biggest contributor to rising health care costs which is the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions, like diabetes, cancers, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and more.
“We know that out-of-pocket costs are out of control, especially among the millions living with chronic disease and relying on prescription drug therapies to help prevent and better manage their conditions. Yet far too often insurers charge the full list price for medicines when patients are meeting deductibles or coinsurance – even though the insurer pays significantly less because of negotiated discounts or rebates. Policymakers can and should act to make sure consumers benefit at the pharmacy counter from those savings.
“The Chairman continues to compare the cost of drugs in the United States with other countries. But we know that many countries used as comparisons on drug pricing establish price controls that rely on the quality-adjusted life year (QALY) to set drug prices for their national health systems. QALYs are discriminatory and perpetuate health inequity in decision-making by restricting access to treatments based on people’s age, health status, and presence of disabilities. Trying to justify discrimination and the implementation of foreign price controls under the guise of lowering costs is untenable and should be rejected outright. We applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for passing legislation just yesterday banning the use of the QALY in federal health programs based on its discriminatory foundation and potential harms in application. It is important steps like these that deliver real value to the millions of individuals and families managing one and often multiple chronic conditions.
“Bottom line, there are many areas ripe for reform, and savings, across the health care system, but policy proposals that aim to adopt foreign governments’ access restrictions and price controls should be abandoned. We urge policymakers on Capitol Hill and in statehouses throughout the U.S. to more precisely prioritize how to better health outcomes, improve access and coverage for prescribed medicines and make lower costs a reality for patients.”