At issue is a proposed law, S.127, the “PBM Transparency Act.” On the face of it, this bill purports to impose greater oversight and stricter reporting requirements on obscure entities in our medical system known as “pharmacy benefit managers,” or PBMs for short. PBMs offer their services to Medicare, health insurance companies, unions, and businesses big and small, negotiating with the wholesalers of prescription drugs in order to lower prices. By one estimate, PBMs save the average American around $1,000 per year.
Outrageous, right? Downright scandalous! You can see why lobbyists working for pharmaceutical companies and drug wholesalers would want to nip those PBMs in the bud. They’re cutting into their precious profits. Joe Biden’s activist Federal Trade Commission is pitching in too, not surprisingly. In a “coincidence” that will shock no one, pharmaceutical makers were by far the biggest spenders on lobbying last year, reportedly shelling out a whopping $284 million to influence our policymakers. That’s over 70 percent more than the second-leading industry.
Like most bills circulating in Congress, this one has been written off by and for special interests — in this case, the fat cats who make billions by overcharging Americans for drugs that people in other countries get for much, much less. If that were all that was at issue in this political battle, though, you and I might roll our eyes and forget about it. After all, wasting money and making the rich richer is what our federal government does best.