Dear Editor:

Washington has been working to fix a flawed Medicare system. As a registered nurse, I’m glad to see attempts to fix the current system, however we must be careful not to negatively impact patient outcomes and overall quality patient care as a whole.

I am concerned that the International Price Index (IPI) would limit innovation of new cures as well as physician treatment choice for beneficiaries of Medicare Part B. IPI was proposed by the administration to base drug reimbursement prices on rates from foreign countries, which can be skewed data for the US.

These countries are largely based in socialized healthcare systems that arbitrarily impose price controls on their medicines. The rates from these types of systems would end up being well below market value and ultimately hamper research & development and investment into new cures and life-saving treatments. Several of these potential life-saving medicines are included in the new ‘right-to-try’ law, which has been a win/win in compassionate patient care.

This approach would also implement a mandatory test for a new reimbursements system in selected areas. This would require third-party middlemen be involved in a physician’s options, and likely mean lower reimbursements to practices/hospitals. As someone who’s worked in healthcare, I know these would severely affect small community practices and their patients. 

While I applaud the administration’s willingness to tackle Medicare’s problem, we have to be careful that we’re not sacrificing physician and patient choice and further advancements in medicine.