Issue Toolkit:

Oppose Socialist Health Care

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Background information

We all know there are serious problems in our broken healthcare system. For decades, government intervention has caused market distortions, introducing fixes that make matters worse. A prime example is the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which for most Americans, has only led to higher insurance premiums and fewer choices in the healthcare marketplace.

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Congress is again preparing to make significant changes to our healthcare system—it is widely expected that Congress will vote on some sort of compromise deal by May 2020.

As conservatives, we must steer our legislators away from the heavy hand of big government and towards market-based solutions as they seek to address the following two issues:

Surprise Medical Billing—Patients who schedule medical care from providers that are listed as in-network with their insurance providers sometimes receive bills from out-of-network doctors such as anesthesiologists, radiologists, or pathologists that are part of their care team. The insurance provider will not cover the out-of-network costs and so patients may find themselves saddled with bills that can be very high, potentially running into tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. [See Addendum 1: Surprise Medical Billing]

Prescription Drug Pricing—Many Americans receive their prescriptions through Medicare Part D, and plans and manufacturers are currently incentivized to push high-cost Medicare patients into the “catastrophic tier” of prescriptions, where the taxpayers must cover 80% of the prescription costs. And under Medicare part B, physicians are financially incentivized to prescribe more expensive drugs when cheaper alternatives are available. Additionally, current laws and regulations make it unnecessarily difficult for drug manufacturers to introduce new, cheaper generics into the marketplace. [See Addendum 2: Prescription Drug Pricing]

The Legislative Landscape

There are a number of bills being debated in the House or the Senate that address either one or both of the aforementioned issues, but ultimately a vote is expected on a healthcare package deal that could pull parts and pieces from several of these proposals:

  • H.R. 3 - Lower Drug Costs Now Act (Pelosi-backed bill)
  • S. 2543 - Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (Grassley-Wyden bill)
  • S. 1895 - Lower Health Care Costs Act (HELP - surprise billing)
  • H.R.3630 - No Surprises Act (E&C - surprise billing)
  • H.R. 5826 - Consumer Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills Act (W&M - surprise billing)
  • H.R.5800 - Ban Surprise Billing Act (Ed & Labor - surprise billing)
  • H.R. 19 / S. 3129 - Lower Costs, More Cures Act (GOP alternative to H.R. 3)

Some of these bills do contain helpful measures that align with conservative policy, however many of these bills contain some form of government-mandated price controls, either directly or indirectly, that warrant conservative opposition to the bill in its entirety. The cure should never be worse than the disease.

Government-mandated price controls don’t work. They ignore basic economic principles and have unintended consequences. Price controls in health care only serve to reduce access to new treatments, stifle research and innovation, and increase health costs in the long run.

Whether it be for prescription drugs or for out-of-network physician services, conservatives should remain firmly opposed to any soviet-style price controls where a Washington bureaucrat arbitrarily dictates prices to the rest of the nation.

Conservative Policy Solutions

Congress should reject any deal that contains price controls. The appropriate way to address these issues is by ensuring a robust and transparent marketplace. Congress can do this by removing bureaucratic red tape, increasing price transparency for consumers, and better aligning market incentives.

Surprise Medical Billing—Congress should require healthcare providers to supply a good-faith estimate of the cost of scheduled medical care before it occurs and establish penalties for any insurer that falsely represents a facility as being in-network, and for any provider practice that presents itself as being in-network if doctors at that practice balance-bill for services. Additionally, Congress should use existing rules to ban balance billing for non-network emergency care. [See Addendum 1: Surprise Medical Billing]

Prescription Drug Pricing—Congress should restructure the Part D program to disincentivize plans and manufacturers from pricing drugs at a level that would place them in the catastrophic tier. Additionally, placing a limit on reimbursements under Part B would eliminate a perverse incentive for doctors to prescribe more expensive medicines. And lastly, Congress should close loopholes in federal law that prevent market competition between brand-name manufacturers and their generic competitors. [See Addendum 2: Prescription Drug Pricing]

Conservatives should urge lawmakers to reject price controls and instead adopt conservative solutions that remove bureaucratic red-tape, reform existing programs, and create more choice and transparency in the healthcare marketplace for consumers.

Talking Points

  • Remember Obamacare. You were told that you could keep your doctor. You were told costs would go down. 10 years later and Congress is debating bills to address the fact that many Americans can’t see their doctor and that costs have only risen. Once again, Washington politicians are telling us that more government is the answer.

  • Conservatives should reject big-government price controls. The cure should never be worse than the disease and soviet-style price controls won’t heal America’s healthcare system. We need a free, open, and transparent marketplace.

  • There are conservative policy solutions to address the dual problems of surprise medical billing and prescription drug costs. There is no logical reason that any of the currently proposed bills “must pass.” Congress should reject the price controls found in many of the currently proposed bills and pass legislation that opens up the healthcare market—instead of crushing it.

  • Senator Grassley’s Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (S.2543) arbitrarily ties Medicare Part D drug prices to the rate of inflation. This penalizes drug companies who appropriately adjust prices to respond to changes in cost, sales, or other market forces.

  • House Democrats’ Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) imports price controls from foreign countries. In addition to tying drug prices to the rate of inflation, it arbitrarily pegs drug prices to drug prices in other countries. This has the direct effect of imposing the price controls of countries with socialist healthcare directly onto the American market.

  • Access to new drugs is much greater in the U.S. than in countries that have implemented price controls. Of new pharmaceuticals introduced between 2011 and 2018, 89% are available to In America, compared with 62% in Germany and 60% in the United Kingdom. Less than 50% are available in Australia, Canada, France, and Japan.

  • Countries with price controls also suffered a decline in pharmaceutical research and development. In 1986, European firms led the U.S. in spending on pharmaceutical research and development by 24%. After the imposition of price control regimes, they fell behind. By 2015, they lagged the U.S. by 40%.

Call Notes

My name is [NAME] from [CITY AND ZIP CODE] and I am calling [Member of Congress] to urge them to oppose big-government price controls in all future healthcare packages.

Whether it be for prescription drugs or for surprise medical billing, the government should not be dictating prices to the market.

To fix these issues, Congress should turn to solutions that create more choice and transparency in the healthcare marketplace for consumers.

We should make it easier for new, generic prescriptions to be sold. We can also change Medicare so doctors are incentivized to prescribe patients lower-priced drugs, instead of the more expensive alternative.

And rather than telling physicians how much they should charge for their services, we should give power to Americans to find the best quality healthcare at a price they can afford.

I know Congress is looking to pass a healthcare deal. I’m asking [Member of Congress] to reject any deal where the government dictates prices to the market. I’m opposed to socialism and I’m opposed to socialist price controls.

Thank you for passing along my message.

Social Posts (remember to insert the social handle of your member)

Tweet This:

Congress said that under #Obamacare we could keep our doctors ✅👩‍⚕️and prices would go down 💲📉. But Americans lost their doctors ❌👩‍⚕️ and our costs went up 💲📈. Now Congress says we need more big-government meddling. We say: #RejectPriceControls

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How to fix #PrescriptionDrugCosts: ✅Reform Medicare Part D ✅Incentivize doctors to prescribe lower cost drugs ✅Make it easier to approve generic drugs ❌ #ForeignPriceControls

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How to fix #SurpriseMedicalBilling: ✅Americans can see the prices upfront ✅Penalties for falsely advertising in-network status ✅Ban balance-billing for emergency care ❌ #PriceControls

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Americans don’t want @SpeakerPelosi’s socialist drug pricing scheme! #HR3 will reduce access to new medicines and stifle research and innovation. Congress should reject all #ForeignPriceControls.

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Of new pharmaceuticals introduced between 2011 and 2018, 89% are available in America, compared to 62% in Germany & 60% in UK. < 50% are available in Australia, Canada, France, and Japan. Dear Congress, DO NOT follow these countries off a healthcare cliff. #RejectPriceControls

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.[@Member] Please fix #SurpriseMedicalBilling and #PrescriptionDrugCosts. But DO NOT implement #PriceControls, which will only make matters worse.

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