Everyone knows drugs cost too much in the United States. Many people also know tat in other countries – like Canada – those same drugs cost much less.
Over the last week, there’s been a surprising amount of debate in the Senate over an amendment to allow us to import cheaper drugs from Canada. Although many oppose it, there are a fair number of Republicans who don’t.
One of the reasons drugs cost so much in the US is that we can’t collectively bargain to reduce prices. In Canada, the country can negotiate as one huge purchaser, and can therefore get a good deal. In the US, on the other hand, Medicare is expressly forbidden by law from doing so. That was part of the deal when Medicare Part D was passed. So no bargaining.
That was a pretty bad deal as agreements go. We committed massive federal funds to purchase drugs from pharmaceutical companies and then also barred the government from trying to get a good rate. Not only has that significantly increased the deficit, but it seems bizarre from an economic standpoint. Are there other industries where it’s illegal for the government to try and negotiate for a good deal?
It’s crazy, though, to support those same bans and then support importing from countries with no such bans. Huh? Either you like collective bargaining or you don’t. It seems very inefficient not to bargain with our very large Medicare system and then pay Canada overhead to allow them to do lesser bargaining for us. Why not just let our government get better prices? Why go to other countries instead? Why is that logically consistent?
I’m not kidding. Someone please explain it to me!