Utah has come to be known as a state characterized by its pro-business climate, holding its own among other top contenders, such as Virginia and Georgia, on Forbes’ 2022 list of States Best for Business Growth. A stable and robust economy that can adapt as times change is largely to thank for this standing, and if we hope to preserve our state’s status, we must protect competition throughout our free market. 

Recently, legislators in Congress have been attempting to assert the federal government’s dominance in the health care sector, which would only serve to eliminate the healthy competition that all industries need to survive. 

As a former senior staff member at the Governor’s Office for Economic Development and the former chief operating officer of Utah Inland Port Authority, I understand the significance of health care choices in attracting and retaining skilled workers. A robust and competitive health care market benefits employees and fuels economic growth by giving employers the flexibility to offer tailored health plans to meet their unique needs. 

However, policies continue to circulate on Capitol Hill that attack pharmacy benefit companies, entities that encourage innovation and help to secure savings for countless patients across Utah.

Those who claim this legislation would solve the drug pricing crisis plaguing America fail to recognize the integral role pharmacy benefit companies play. Numbers don’t lie; pharmacy benefit companies secure roughly $1,040 in prescription drug cost savings per person annually, which is no small feat. Savings of this magnitude allow families in need to spend money on other essentials, including rent and groceries, and allow employers to invest in different areas that will help their businesses thrive. 

Pharmacy benefit companies do this by applying downward pressure in the prescription drug market and promoting greater competition and the use of more affordable prescription drug options — all ways they help to drive down costs for patients and families. 

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I’d like to applaud our leaders who have actively taken a stand and fought for the best interests of their constituents when it comes to protecting health care benefits. Sen. Mitt Romney’s stance on empowering employers with choices in pharmacy benefits by protecting spread pricing deserves applause. 

As Romney recently said in a congressional hearing, “A vast majority of small and midsized employers prefer spread price contracting because it’s lower cost and more certainty for them. That’s why they choose it. Making that illegal is not going to help small or midsized businesses. Our understanding as well is that the majority of unions also prefer spread price contracting so my amendment allows spread price contracting to be offered to employers and unions but it also says that the PBM has to provide a non-spread price option as well. … Prohibiting spread pricing will not save sponsors money.”

No business or health plan sponsor is obligated to choose spread pricing, but many do because of the price predictability. Banning one option will do nothing but undermine the flexibility employers rely on when designing their benefits. Businesses need multiple options at their fingertips, and I know employers appreciate Romney standing up for them. 

Likewise, Sen. Mike Lee’s support of biosimilars is a testament to the importance of fostering greater competition in the prescription drug space. These biologic medicines hold enormous potential to reduce health care costs while maintaining quality. We need other lawmakers to pursue effective solutions to cultivate a competitive environment and allow for market-based reforms to lower costs and level the playing field in our health care sector.

Now it’s time for Utah to place its trust in the hands of our elected leaders in Washington. I urge all our nation’s lawmakers to recognize the importance of safeguarding our free-market values. This necessitates rejecting misguided policies that undermine competition in our prescription drug market by limiting pharmacy benefits. If we allow the government to limit choices of individuals and businesses, we are compromising the future of our state’s small businesses, employers and hardworking taxpayers. Instead, let’s ensure that Utah can continue to be a leading state in our great nation by continuing to fight for an increasingly competitive pro-business environment.

Jill Flygare was a former senior staff member at the Governor’s Office for Economic Development and the former COO of Utah Inland Port Authority.