Is Trump Proposing Price Controls?

March 9, 2016

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Have you read Donald Trump’s health care plan? At first glance, there’s nothing unique about his plan. The first six points look like he picked off standard GOP health care talking points without much creative thought. Interestingly, it sounds like he has no idea we already have the Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) he’s proposing.

Avik Roy writing in Forbes says this plan emerged because of what happened during the Houston GOP debate. When Marco Rubio asked him for his health care plan, Mr. Trump quipped, “The lines around the states.” When pressed for details, he said, “No, there’s nothing to add.” The Donald was caught flat-footed. So now he’s released a 7-point plan called, “Healthcare Reform to Make America Great Again.”

Point seven is troubling at many levels. Here’s what he says:

7. Remove barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products. Congress will need the courage to step away from the special interests and do what is right for America. Though the pharmaceutical industry is in the private sector, drug companies provide a public service. Allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers.

He essentially equates private companies with public agencies: “Though the pharmaceutical industry is in the private sector, drug companies provide a public service.” He asks Congress to allow Americans to buy drugs outside America. We do that all the time, but because other countries negotiate low prices for a more restrictive list of American-funded medications for their citizens, this appears to be a way to impose price controls. I could write an entire commentary about pharmaceuticals, but let’s stay focused on Trump’s troubling rationale.

What company in America does not provide a ‘public service’?

Hospitals and clinics provide a public service. Cable companies, Internet companies, lawyers, Verizon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Mayo Clinic, Boeing, movie theatres, grocers, hair stylists, carpenters, plumbers, realtors, farmers, you name it. They all provide a ‘public service.’

What, in Trump’s mind, could the government do to companies that “provide a public service”? Price controls are a sign of a controlled economy. Price controls decrease supply and reduce access for consumers of the products of those industries.

Does Mr. Trump have Big Government tendencies? This one sentence says he might. Maybe Trump didn’t mean it. Maybe a low-level staffer dreamed this one up on the fly. But given that the first six points are standard Republican fare, it’s easy to conclude that the unique language of point number seven is actually his and his alone. Prices control will not make America great again.

CCHF will soon head to Arizona to discuss the ‘Wedge of Health Freedom’ with interested health care practitioners. Will you send a donation to help us finance our Wedge-building campaign? We cannot restore patient-friendly and pocketbook-friendly health care to America without you! Please send a gift of $25 or $50 or more today!

Twila Brase, RN, PHN

President and Co-founder


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