Word that the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions approved a series of drug pricing measures might give conservatives cause for concern. For starters, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who supports a single-payer system of socialized medicine, chairs the HELP Committee. Moreover, last year Democrats passed, and President Joe Biden signed, the first-ever drug price controls in Medicare, which will reduce seniors’ access to life-saving medicines — all so Democrats can use the savings to pay for a bevy of climate pork projects.

Despite that checkered history, however, the most recent HELP Committee measures would actually make some modest steps toward lowering drug prices in the right way — that is, by changing market incentives rather than using the long arm of government regulations and price controls. For instance, several bills would help lower prices by seeking to approve generic drugs faster, spurring additional competition that can help consumers in the marketplace.

The main measure attempts to address pharmaceutical benefit managers, or PBMs. These entities negotiate drug prices on behalf of employers and insurers. But in recent years, some have questioned whether PBMs deliver good value for patients and health plans. In particular, critics allege that PBMs actually contribute to price inflation for brand-name pharmaceuticals by encouraging manufacturers to raise their list prices and turn around and give higher rebates to the PBM to ensure their drugs get covered on the plan’s formulary.

The HELP Committee’s measure, the Pharmacy Benefit Manager Reform Act, seeks to shine a bright light on this shell game by requiring additional annual disclosures from PBMs about their business practices and their effects. On one level, it shouldn’t take a series of specific requirements spelled out in federal statute for employers, not to mention patients, to understand exactly how PBMs operate.

But because third parties — employers, insurers, or the government — pay for so much of our healthcare, the system’s end users frequently have little leverage to peek behind the proverbial curtain and understand how the system works. The same incentives that make PBMs’ business practices opaque also explain why individuals have such difficulty finding the prices of healthcare services when they can look up the price of virtually every other good or service online in an instant.

While the Pharmacy Benefit Manager Reform Act contains some good provisions, other elements seem heavy-handed from a regulatory perspective. The bill would prohibit “spread pricing,” in which PBMs charge more for a health plan for a drug than they reimburse pharmacies. While such tactics may not make sense in many cases, employers and health plans should have the ability to make the best decision that fits their own unique circumstances without the government trying to dictate outcomes.

That provision points to a larger concern. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has stated his desire to bring a drug pricing package to the Senate floor in the coming months. And undoubtedly, Sanders and his leftist allies will push Schumer to craft the most aggressive legislation possible.

In other words, this package could quickly turn into a sprawling mess, with a panoply of big government regulations and mandates attached. A moving legislative vehicle could also become a “Christmas tree” with hundreds of pages of special interest provisions, whether parochial regulatory changes or pork-barrel giveaways. Thankfully, the new Republican majority in the House means that conservatives in that chamber can, and should, block passage of a bill featuring big government “solutions.”

The Senate HELP Committee has made a start in crafting legislation to tackle drug prices. But conservatives should remain vigilant at every stage in the process to ensure that the final bill will do more good than harm.