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Sen. Grassley’s office notified me that he’s presently chairing the Finance Committee’s second round of hearings on the very high drug prices that we individuals and the federal government, through the Medicaid and Medicare programs, are forced to pay.

In the Senator’s words: “Patients and taxpayers deserve to hear from leaders in the industry about what’s behind this unsustainable trend and what can be done to lower costs.”

In my response, I suggested a solution to the problem:

I’m glad to know that you continue to take an interest in the outrageous costs that Americans pay for prescription drugs. None of the other economically developed countries pay the exorbitant prices that we do. That is because they all have either totally socialized health care programs or a mixed form of nationalized health care insurance with private insurance options, such as Switzerland.

So, it seems to me that you are not really addressing the root cause of sky high drug prices. The competitive edge afforded countries that have a single health care provider is based on simple economies of scale, which give these countries the ability to negotiate fair prices with pharmaceutical companies.

Open up Medicare as a health insurance option available on the exchange and a rapid and significant decline in drug prices will take care of itself.

There's nothing socialized about such an option.

Indeed, it just puts in place the basic principle of capitalism: competition, which is the dynamic currently missing from our American model of pharmaceutical enterprise.

Steven Pokorny, Urbandale

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