Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Taxpayer Treat for Pharma

Republicans in Congress do not care about saving taxpayers money. If they did, they would allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies. From the article:

Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, denounced the bill as “a step down the road to a single-payer government-run health care system.”

Democrats said they were merely trying to untie the hands of the secretary of health and human services so he could negotiate on behalf of 43 million Medicare beneficiaries.

If this is a matter of principle for Mr. Cornyn, why is he ok with the Department of Veteran's Affairs negotiating prices? Would he see that removed? Senator Reid on negotiating drug prices:

“The Department of Veterans Affairs is able to negotiate for lower-priced drugs,”
said the Senate majority leader,
Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada. “H.M.O.’s can negotiate.

Wal-Mart can negotiate. Why in the world shouldn’t Medicare be able to do that?”...

Senator Amy Klobuchar, a freshman Democrat from Minnesota, said the vote showed that “the power of big pharma,” the pharmaceutical industry, “is still a presence in the halls of Congress.”

The House version of this bill requires negotiation of drug prices. The Senate version made negotiation optional. Some facts (like em or not) about letting Medicare negotiate on drug prices:
  • Taxpayers “could save as much as $190 billion over the next 10 years” if Medicare negotiated prices with drug makers.
  • Medicare pays substantially more for drugs that the Veterans Administration, which negotiates prices with drug makers.
  • Since the program does not require any discount over list prices, “drug makers are being paid as much as 20 percent more for the same drugs that they had already been providing to recipients under the Medicaid program [for the indigent].”