The extent to which Florida’s business community has responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic is nothing short of inspiring. Yet, as the light at the end of the tunnel draws closer, it is paramount that our nation’s leaders do not ignore calls from small business owners to support their efforts with federal policy reforms.
As President and CEO of Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, I know that the rising cost of health care is an issue that weighs heavily on the minds of Latino business owners and entrepreneurs across the Sunshine State. As the economy continues to recover, concerns about the impact of rising healthcare costs on their bottom line or the well-being of their employees cannot be ignored.
At a time when the healthcare system is in dire need of reform, no solution should jeopardize the future of biopharmaceutical innovation in Florida and across the country. Florida biopharmaceutical companies have not only played a major role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic through the rapid development of vaccines and therapies, but have also been a vital sector of our economy for years.
Beyond the 25,000 people directly employed, Florida’s biopharmaceutical industry indirectly supports more than 109,000 jobs and generates $29 billion in economic output through relationships with thousands of suppliers. Nevertheless, rather than pursuing bipartisan, common-sense legislation to lower drug prices, lawmakers in Washington continue to promote policies that would jeopardize the livelihoods of thousands of Hispanic and minority-owned businesses that depend on a thriving biopharmaceutical industry to keep their jobs, feed their families, and even manage their own health. There are better solutions to these price control policies, such as capping out-of-pocket drug costs in Medicare Part D, reducing insurance premiums, and targeting intermediaries in our healthcare system. who reap massive profits at the expense of patients. .
Intermediaries – Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) in particular – are the main culprits behind the rising cost of prescription drugs in the United States. Due to massive consolidations over the past decade, just three PBM companies control 80% of the prescription drug market. Using their dominating market power, PBMs can pocket the rebates and rebates on drugs that pharmaceutical companies offer to patients, reaping huge profits while making drugs less affordable. Rather than penalize companies that take the risk of developing a drug, legislators should go after PBMs and other shady intermediaries that add no value to the healthcare system.
The bottom line is that supporting pharmaceutical innovation not only ensures rapid access to the best drugs and treatments for millions of vulnerable patients, but is also vital to protecting tens of thousands of jobs and businesses in the great state. from Florida. Legislators must listen to their constituents and prioritize policies to reduce health care costs responsibly and effectively.
Julio Fuentes is President of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, representing more than 604,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in Florida that contribute more than $90 billion to our state’s economy each year.