Monday, November 16, 2009

Health Reform and Drug Prices

Even as drug makers promise to support Washington’s health care overhaul by shaving $8 billion a year off the nation’s drug costs after the legislation takes effect, the industry has been raising its prices at the fastest rate in years. ...

Drug makers say they have valid business reasons for the price increases. Critics say the industry is trying to establish a higher price base before Congress passes legislation that tries to curb drug spending in coming years.

Both the drug makers and the critics are right, of course: the only difference is that critics do not accept profit maximization as a legitimate goal for the drug makers.

The bigger problem posed by health reform is not just these increases in drug prices; it is the reduced incentive for innovation implied by spending controls going forward.

24 comments:

Chee Heong Quah said...

I just wanna share with you all that big government is encroaching in once free HK.

Lately the authorities are forcing producers to nutrition label their products.

Once again libertarianism is threatened.

Fred Unger said...

Jeff,

It's great to see a real libertarian perspective on energy. Too many who claim to be free market advocates seem to support the most heavily subsidized energy boondoggle in history.

Beyond Price Anderson, nuclear has received more direct subsidy from the feds than any other energy source, plus subsidized waste disposal (if they ever come up with a plan), plus construction works in progress involuntary funding of plants and ubiquitous cost over-runs by utility ratepayers, plus federal loan guarantees, plus subsidized decommissioning, and of course massive tax breaks that everyone in every sector of the energy game gets.

There is a reason banks won't touch building these things without the feds behind the loans. They are completely uneconomical.

And that doesn't even get into the issues of nuclear proliferation, targets for terrorism, toxicity and carcinogenicity of fuel and waste products, potential impacts of accidents and meltdowns, etc.

Thanks for keeping the libertarian community honest. You should write a Reason article on the subject. The regulars there seem to have bought into the nuclear industry propaganda.

The answer is really very simple on nukes. We don't even have to try to sort out all the subsidies in the energy game. If nuclear power is really a free market solution, let's just repeal Price Anderson and make nuclear developers and their insurers pay the full cost of their liability exposure, just like every other business in the country.

If they won't cover their own liabilities and risks, why should the rest of us be exposed to them, either financially or in the catastrophic damage they can create?

Thanks for covering this issue.

Fred Unger

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