The Oklahoma Senate will be discussing a protectionist bill that would further curtail free market forces in health care. Despite its title, the Patient’s Right to Pharmacy Choice Act, House Bill 2632 is actually intended to benefit independent pharmacists at the expense of Oklahoma patients and taxpayers.
In a letter, Grover Norquist, president and founder of Americans for Tax Reform, warned Oklahoma lawmakers of the serious negative consequences that would stem from HB 2632. The letter is pasted below:
May 13, 2019
To: Members of the Oklahoma Senate
From: Americans for Tax Reform
RE: Oppose House Bill 2632
On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across Oklahoma, I urge you to oppose House Bill 2632, protectionist legislation that would increase regulations in healthcare and further curtail free market forces, along with the right of contract in a sector already suffering from overbearing government interference.
Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) are private firms that negotiate the amount pharmacies get reimbursed for prescriptions. PBMs are under attack right now as our entire drug pricing system sustains fire. Though PBMs serve an important role in the free market, it is reasonable to scrutinize some of their practices (and the overall system as it currently stands) and some reform may be worth considering.
However, HB 2632 fails to productively reform PBMs or provide for any useful advantages to drug pricing. Instead, it is a protectionist bill that would increase government meddling in health care markets in order to benefit small “community” pharmacists at the expense of patients, taxpayers, and the insurance system.
For example, if implemented, HB 2632 would allow for government to set specific contract terms for PBMs and require “one-size-fits-all” reimbursements for different types of pharmacies. This government overreach would restrict practices and tools PBMs use to reach optimal deals and savings, and could raise the cost of health plans.
Some proponents of this bill may claim that it is a free market solution, but that could not be further from the truth. In fact, the bill’s own fiscal note describes part of it as “the opposite of free market.” HB 2632 is one of many attempts by community pharmacists throughout the country to tamper with the market in a way that benefits them. In North Dakota, they have succeeded in banning their competitors altogether.
The best way to lower the price of prescription medication is to embrace truly free market solutions. Heavy-handed regulations that insert government into private contracts will only result in more problems. As such, ATR urges lawmakers to vote NO on HB 2632.
Americans for Tax Reform