ARMSTRONG: Keep Prescription Drug Coverage Affordable, and Government Out of Health Care

We need our Texas State Lawmakers to keep government mandates out of our Health Care System
By Dr. Robin Armstrong
AUSTIN, Texas (Texas Insider Report) — As a physician who has served the Galveston community for decades, I am continuously led by the guiding principle in medicine, “first, do no harm.” That means do no harm to our patients’ health and wellbeing, which includes — and relies on – their access to affordable health care and prescription drugs.
Concerns around growing health care costs are not unfounded.

The cost of employer and employee contributions to a family of four’s health care coverage has continuously risen over the past two decades – in fact, its risen to a staggering combined total of about $24,000 according to KFF’s 2023 Employer Health Benefits Survey.

These costs have a prohibitive impact on patients’ ability to get the lifesaving treatments they need. 
Thankfully, many employers offer coverage options like discounted prescriptions at certain more-affordable pharmacies. And patients like having those choices: a recent poll shows that more than 70% of Texas voters would rather go to a certain pharmacy if it meant having more affordable prescription drugs.
Meanwhile, big drug companies continue to raise prescription drug prices without any accountability. Their relentless price hikes go well above the rate of inflation, and they’re happening across the board.

In 2023, drugmakers increased the price of nearly 1,000 drugs in January alone, and continued to raise prices on drugs throughout the year. 70% of Texas voters say lawmakers should consider legislation to stop big drug companies from setting sky-high prices for prescription drugs. 
Alarmingly, instead of holding big drug companies accountable, recent proposals in Washington, D.C. and here in Texas have attacked the more-affordable choices that employers provide and patients want.
  • In Congress, a series of bills, including one led by Sen. Bernie Sanders, are trying to stop free-market negotiation in the health care industry, including those private entities that negotiate against big drug companies. Employers work with those entities as an essential partner to achieve the lowest-possible prescription drug costs for employees and their families.
  • Even more concerning, this is a threat that has been echoed in Texas-specific proposals from our own state legislators in years past. 
Unfortunately, these bills would most definitely cause harm for the people of Texas, impacting my patients’ health and directly restricting their access to necessary prescription medicines.

For me, my employees and fellow physicians at Armstrong Medical Group, the continuum of care for our patients does not end when they are discharged and leave our doors. It continues through any post-hospitalization or post-operation needs, including prescription drugs.
If our patients cannot afford to access these necessary medications, that is a problem for us all – patients, physicians, and lawmakers alike. 
We can’t let government control of health care threaten the savings that our business owners, employees, and families rely on for their health care and prescription drugs. And we certainly cannot let Bernie Sanders’ radical ideas pass in Texas.
Put simply, we need our state lawmakers to keep government mandates out of our health care. Do not let the agendas of politicians in Washington reach us here at home, influencing Texas legislation and allowing big drug companies to go unchecked while raising costs for our patients at the pharmacy counter. 
Sound medicine, including affordable health coverage and prescription drugs for Texas families, relies on us doing no harm – and keeping government mandates out of our health care.

It’s up to our legislators to keep this at heart, and continue to stand by Texas businesses, employees, and families. 

Dr. Robin Armstrong is a Galveston County, Texas, Commissioner who practices medicine in his hometown of League City. He is an owner of the Armstrong Medical Group, a group of hospital & nursing home physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.