Doctors for America recently came out in support of another leftwing policy, and this time—surprise, surprise—it was introduced by self-described socialists Bernie Sanders and Cori Bush. The Doctors for America-supported bill would apply government price controls to insulin.
Put simply, government price controls are a dangerous band-aid for a very real problem. From the Roman Emperor Diocletian to President Nixon, governments have repeatedly tried to control costs by capping prices. And every time, the unintended consequences outweigh the perceived benefits.
We all want patients to be able to access affordable insulin, but price controls are a child’s view of how to fix an economic problem. Government price caps for anything—whether it’s medicine or a hamburger—fly in the face of the laws of supply and demand. Not only does it compromise innovation that could improve the product, but it disincentivizes production and distribution.
Instead of throwing out the free market—which has provided Americans with the most innovative treatments, therapies, and vaccines in the world—policymakers should focus on the root problem of why medicine prices are so high.
One area to target should be the cost-inflating practices of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), otherwise known as the middlemen of the drug supply chain. These entities use their positional leverage to make huge profits at the expense of patients.
And on the question of insulin specifically, a piece recently published in MedPage Today highlighted that, “[d]rugmakers have long ceased to be the only, or even primary, villain of the insulin price scandal. The three companies that produce nearly all the insulin in this country…posted stagnant or declining revenue from their versions of the drugs…”
One patient with type 1 diabetes questioned that while some drugmakers are taking active steps to lower insulin prices, “will other ‘parties at play’ cause this price to increase before it hits my pharmacy counter?” Cough, cough…PBMs.
Of course, none of this logic matters to Doctors for America. They’ve been closely tied to the Biden administration and left-wing activists since the group’s inception. Economists don’t tell doctors how to perform a surgery. Let’s not let a misguided physician group push bad economic policy.