Democrats Likely To Seek Health Insurance Expansion
Democratic lawmakers next year likely will seek to "close the gap" between those with health insurance and those who lack coverage, as well as reduce inequalities between higher- and lower-income U.S. residents, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the Journal, "some Democrats still drool over proposals for government health insurance for all," but others "prefer piecemeal approaches."
For example, one proposal would provide tax credits to companies with as many as 100 employees to help purchase health insurance for employees through a pool sponsored by the federal government and modeled after the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. "Finding a politically palatable and affordable way to make health insurance universally available has been impossible so far," the Journal reports (Wessel, Wall Street Journal, 11/21).
Democratic lawmakers next year also likely will seek to reduce health care costs, a proposal that "might spell bad news for the brand-name pharmaceutical industry" but might "provide new momentum for the generic drug rivals' agenda," the Journal reports. For example, Democratic lawmakers might propose to increase restrictions on "authorized generic" medications (Wilde Mathews, Wall Street Journal, 11/21).
After medications lose patent protection, brand-name pharmaceutical companies in some cases continue to market the medications at full price and also allow generic pharmaceutical companies to market authorized generic versions of the treatments in exchange for a share of the revenue. Opponents maintain that authorized generic medications reduce market competition and lead to higher prices for consumers (American Health Line, 7/21).
According to the Journal, a proposal to increase restrictions on authorized generic medications, which might lead to "lower drug costs and doesn't involve government-imposed price controls or the controversies surrounding imported medicines," likely would "resonate with many lawmakers" (Wilde Mathews, Wall Street Journal, 11/21).
Democratic lawmakers also likely will seek to pass legislation that would allow generic versions of biotechnology medications (Costello, Chicago Tribune, 11/20).
Some biotech companies have said that generic pharmaceutical companies should have to "redo all the studies performed by the original manufacturer" to ensure the safety of generic versions of biotech medications, but such a requirement "would likely eliminate much, or all, of the price advantage offered by the generics rivals," the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 11/21).