With the midterm elections approaching fast, House Republicans just released their “Commitment to America“—a list of policies they’ll pursue if they win a majority.
Even if the GOP comes out on top in November, these policies are likely a few years away from becoming law, since Democrats will retain the White House for at least two more years. But the Commitment is still important, because it illustrates the glaring contrast between the two parties—especially on contentious issues like health care—and lays the groundwork for what a potential GOP trifecta could accomplish starting in 2025.
It’s true that President Biden and many Democrats have not yet embraced a socialized Medicare for All-style system. But Democrats do universally favor a top-down approach to health care with an ever-expanding role for the federal government.
The marquee healthcare reform in their erroneously named Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed into law in August, authorizes federal bureaucrats to impose price controls on a growing list of medications purchased by Medicare.
The “Commitment” rightly identifies the danger of this approach—namely, that it’ll gut pharmaceutical research and development and thus lead to fewer new cures and treatments.
Democrats have become obsessed with the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry. That’s not out of respect for its world leadership, with more new drugs in the R&D pipeline than all other countries combined. Nor is it because of the industry’s role in creating COVID-19 vaccines in record time, saving millions of lives and preventing trillions of additional dollars in economic damage from prolonged lockdowns and supply-chain disruptions.
No, Democrats’ stance is founded on resentment that new medications, in their view, cost too much. They’ve long dreamed of using the power of big government to levy price controls on prescription drugs. And with the Inflation Reduction Act, they finally made that dream a reality.
The policy will prove nightmarish for patients, though.
It costs, on average, nearly $2.9 billion to bring a single drug from the lab to approval by the Food and Drug Administration. That’s because about nine in ten drugs entering clinical trials fail. The returns on successful new medications must pay for the R&D costs of those that won’t pan out.
Those returns will never materialize if the government artificially caps them. As the GOP “Commitment” document points out, economists at the University of Chicago project that the Inflation Reduction Act’s price controls will cause R&D spending to plummet by $663 billion through 2039—resulting in “135 fewer lifesaving treatments and cures.”
Older Americans and their families hoping for breakthroughs in treating Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other debilitating conditions will be sorely disappointed.
The GOP “Commitment” document doesn’t delve into specifics about how the party plans to reverse the IRA’s price controls. But senior Republicans have made clear that axing them, before most of them take effect in 2026, would be a key health policy priority.
If they get that chance—and uphold their commitment—patients across the country and around the world will be better off.