By State Rep. Randy Wood
In the heart of the South, where hospitality and community values run deep, Alabamians have long cherished their independence and the spirit of self-reliance. Our state has always been a place where the ability to make choices that best suit our families and businesses is held in high regard. However, a looming threat could compromise these cherished values and shake the foundations of our healthcare system and business landscape. Democrats in Washington have been actively working to bring our state a step closer to socialized medicine by supporting a Bernie Sanders-backed piece of legislation called the Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) Reform Act.
The PBM Reform Act, proposed at the federal level, paints a bleak picture for patients and businesses across Alabama. It promises to usher in a wave of increased government control, specifically targeting PBMs, entities that have played a crucial role in keeping prescription medication affordable for Alabamians.
PBMs negotiate drug prices and manage prescription benefits for health plans. In doing so, they have saved patients in Alabama and across the nation substantial sums of money. On average, PBMs save patients around $1,040 annually, an impressive testament to their effectiveness in reducing drug costs.
However, the PBM Reform Act threatens to disrupt this delicate balance and cast a shadow over Alabama’s healthcare landscape. The bill proposes to impose heavy-handed government regulations, undermining the market-driven competition that currently exists among PBMs, which has been instrumental in keeping healthcare costs in check. Such interference would only lead to increasing pharmaceutical costs, jeopardizing the financial stability of both patients and businesses. Put directly, this bill would bring the United States closer to a system of socialized healthcare.
For a state that values individual freedom and self-reliance, the prospect of government-controlled healthcare interference, a move that Senator Sanders has championed, should be met with alarm.
The PBM Reform Act’s effect on raising healthcare costs would place a greater burden on Alabama businesses. It would limit the available choices for businesses when they are selecting more affordable healthcare plans. Our state has a vibrant and diverse economic landscape, composed of many small family-owned businesses. Many of these businesses rely on affordable healthcare options for their employees and have benefited from the cost-saving mechanisms that PBMs provide. However, the PBM Reform Act disregards the challenges already faced by job creators to provide affordable healthcare coverage for their employees and threatens to undermine these vital cost-saving tools, leading to increased healthcare expenses for businesses and reduced job security for employees. In an increasingly competitive market, this would make it more difficult to attract and retain talent.
In these uncertain times, as our nation grapples with healthcare challenges, it is crucial for Alabama to stand firm in defense of the values that make us unique. We must resist the allure of one-size-fits-all government solutions that Socialist Senator Sanders champions, but in reality, would hinder the choices and opportunities for communities in our state.
As Alabamians, let us urge our congressional delegation to unite in our commitment to fostering a competitive marketplace while aiding in Alabamians’ financial stability and fostering a robust business environment. The PBM Reform Act may cast a grim shadow, but together, we can ensure that Alabama’s future remains bright and full of promise.
Randy Wood serves as State Representative for Calhoun, St. Clair, and Talladega Counties