In a recent op-ed appearing in The Hill (“Medicare’s elephant in the room: The rising cost of pharmaceuticals”), Senator Jay Rockefeller has come out full-bore in favor of negating Federal non-interference for Medicare Part D. It’s chock full of errors. One example:
“In recent years, high-quality, affordable healthcare has eluded consumers, and the No. 1 culprit is skyrocketing prescription-drug costs.”
Nope. Imagine American health care spending as a dollar bill divided into a hundred pennies. How many pennies do you think represent spending on prescription drugs? 60? 80? Wrong. 10.5. The rest (otherwise known as 85%) represent everything else — from physician services (21.9%) to hospital care (31.3%). And, by the way, the 10.5% of US health care costs spent on Rx drugs includes both generics and on-patent pharmaceuticals.
What’s a better bargain: time spent in the hospital, or drugs that keep Americans healthy and productive? The answer is clear. Fewer cents make the most sense.
So why is this blog entry called “Rocky I?” Unfortunately it’s because I don’t think it’ll be my first and final comment on Senator Rockefeller’s newest issue.