October 26, 2023

House Budget Committee Health Care Task Force Tackles Health Care Spending

Today, the House Budget Committee Health Care Task Force (HCTF) hit the ground running with its inaugural Member roundtable. This roundtable brought together Director Phillip Swagel of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), independent experts, and stakeholders to discuss CBO’s methods for analyzing policies that impact drug development in the United States, including the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Led by Rep. Michael Burgess M.D. (R-TX), the HCTF Member roundtable examined potential refinements and improvements to CBO’s drug development model to ensure future analysis is capturing additional factors and subsequent real-world effects of policies impacting medical innovation in the United States.


Pictured: The Inaugural Health Care Task Force Roundtable in Action

Health Care Task Force Chairman Michael Burgess (R-TX) published an op-ed in the Washington Times sharing the Task Force’s goals with the American people ahead of today’s roundtable.

Word on the Street via Washington Times

  • “American families are gathering around the dining room table, trying to figure out how to tighten their belts while the federal government looks for new ways to spend their tax dollars. With nearly one-third of the total $6.4 trillion in federal government spending this year on health care, it is time Congress follows the lead of American families and acts to get Washington’s health care spending under control.”

  • “I am grateful for the trust placed in me by Chairman Arrington to execute our mission: To find ways to improve health outcomes while reducing federal spending.”

  • “In the discussion surrounding the reduction of health care costs, it is imperative to strike a balance that preserves innovation, as it plays a pivotal role in long-term cost containment by alleviating the burden of chronic diseases... By facilitating innovative drug development and encouraging the creation of new treatments, we can not only reduce long-term health care expenses but also envision potential cost savings from curing debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, highlighting the strong correlation between health care innovation and costs.”

  • “Today’s roundtable is a platform for a constructive dialogue. We aim to understand how CBO assesses a policy’s impact on drug development and identify areas where improvements might be needed. This discussion is pivotal for shaping well-informed health care policies that will preserve cures for patients who desperately need them.”

Key Takeaways from the Roundtable:

  • Mr. Schulthess shared with members his work that demonstrates how the IRA’s price control provisions differs from CBO’s estimates, focusing on how he used a more granular methodology to pinpoint the impact of the law, which yielded a much larger estimate of reduced revenue for manufactures and far fewer drugs reaching patients.
  • Mr. Kolchinsky discussed how the passage of the IRA forced him to change course on key strategies and sounded the alarm regarding the law’s impact on patient access to cures and America’s innovation ecosystem.

  • Mr. Holtz-Eakin told members about his experience serving as CBO director during passage of the Medicare Part D benefit in 2003 and how CBO can integrate feedback from independent experts to improve their models.

  • CBO Director Swagel detailed to members how CBO arrived at their assumptions underlying their drug development model and expressed an openness to continue engaging with members of Congress as well as stakeholders and independent experts to build upon their methods of policy analysis.


Budget Chairman Jodey Arrington (Left) and Budget Health Care Task Force Chairman Michael Burgess (Right)

The Bottom Line:

The HCTF looks forward to continuing working in a collaborative and constructive manner with CBO to ensure policymakers have access to the best available analysis when making decisions. That future is only possible through conversations like the one held by the Task Force today, and Chairman Arrington thanks CBO Director Swagel and our panel of experts for their time, active participation, and shared commitment to this goal.