Opinion: Medicare is in the crosshairs once again

One of President Biden’s biggest legislative victories this year was getting the Inflation Reduction Act passed, which included a measure to empower Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for seniors.

Medicare is the largest purchaser of prescription drugs in the world yet was previously prohibited from using its purchasing power as influence the same way that every private insurance company does. This created an environment where the government was paying some of the highest prices in the world. In fact, United States citizens spend at least 34% more than any other country in the world per capita when it comes to medications.

Just two weeks ago, the Senate GOP introduced the deceptively named Protect Drug Innovation Act. This bill has one goal: to strip Medicare’s negotiating powers out of the IRA and allow drugmakers to keep price gouging senior citizens and the American taxpayer.

This is a massive corporate giveaway to Big Pharma. We should be working to lower all prescription drug prices, not just those covered under the new provisions in the IRA. Remember: Not even 10 Republican senators, and certainly not our own, were willing to stand up for the millions of insulin-dependent diabetics in this country outside of the Medicare system who are desperate for a monthly insulin price cap.

Thankfully, this bill has only picked up a few sponsors, but there’s another companion bill that has a lot more support among the GOP — including from our own Idaho senator.

Just two days after this drug-price-hike bill was introduced, a bill was introduced that would repeal the corporate minimum tax — leading to billions in giveaways to the largest and wealthiest corporations.

It is important to remember that the goal of the corporate minimum tax is to try to close some of the loopholes and level the playing field. Many Idaho businesses are small and pay their taxes at the individual rates as sole proprietors, partnerships and LLCs. They pay a higher tax rate than a large corporation such as Amazon. We need to quit the Republican leadership’s strategy of cut and run. They cut the taxes for large corporations and run the money out of the local economies. Local businesses are vital to our communities. We took a positive step in ending the government subsidy for those companies and are finally asking them to pay their fair share. Let’s not step backward now.

David Roth is a nonprofit director and a member of the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee. He is a candidate for U.S. Senate.