Saturday, August 22, 2009

Obama's Secret Deal with Big Pharmas

In case you missed it (and in case you are wondering why the pharmaceutical industry and AMA are the big supporters of the administration's health care "reform"), here's an article from Huffington Post:

Internal Memo Confirms Big Giveaways In White House Deal With Big Pharmas (Ryan Grim, 8/13/09 Huffington Post) [emphasis is mine]

"A memo obtained by the Huffington Post confirms that the White House and the pharmaceutical lobby secretly agreed to precisely the sort of wide-ranging deal that both parties have been denying over the past week.

"The memo, which according to a knowledgeable health care lobbyist was prepared by a person directly involved in the negotiations, lists exactly what the White House gave up, and what it got in return.

"It says the White House agreed to oppose any congressional efforts to use the government's leverage to bargain for lower drug prices or import drugs from Canada -- and also agreed not to pursue Medicare rebates or shift some drugs from Medicare Part B to Medicare Part D, which would cost Big Pharma billions in reduced reimbursements.

"In exchange, the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) agreed to cut $80 billion in projected costs to taxpayers and senior citizens over ten years. Or, as the memo says: "Commitment of up to $80 billion, but not more than $80 billion.

"Representatives from both the White House and PhRMA, shown the outline, adamantly denied that it reflected reality. PhRMA senior vice president Ken Johnson said that the outline "is simply not accurate." "This memo isn't accurate and does not reflect the agreement with the drug companies," said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin.

"Stories in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times last week indicated that the administration was confirming that such a deal had been made.

"Critics on Capitol Hill and online responded with outrage at the reports that Obama had gone behind their backs and sold the reform movement short. Furthermore, the deal seemed to be a betrayal of several promises made by then-Sen. Obama during the presidential campaign, among them that he would use the power of government to drive down the costs of drugs to Medicare and that negotiations would be conducted in the open."

And opponents look at "business as usual" at the White House with weary eyes. (Remember then-Vice President Cheney's confab with energy company executives?)

The Huffington Post article has this image of the memo:
For those of you who don't want to click on the image and back, here's what it says:

July 7 --

Commitment of up to $80 billion, but not more than $80 billion.
1. Agree to increase of Medicaid rebate from 15.1 - 23.1% ($34 billion)
2. Agree to get FOBs done (but no agreement on details -- express disagreement on data exclusivity which both sides say does not affect the score of the legislation.) ($9 billion)
3. Sell drugs to patients in the donut hole at 50% discount ($25 billion)This totals $68 billion
4. Companies will be assessed a tax or fee that will score at $12 billion. There was no agreement as to how or on what this tax/fee will be based.
Total: $80 billion

In exchange for these items, the White House agreed to:
1. Oppose importation
2. Oppose rebates in Medicare Part D
3. Oppose repeal of non-interference
4. Oppose opening Medicare Part B

If this "is simply not accurate" as PhRMA Senior VP says, or "isn't accurate and does not reflect the agreement with the drug companies" as White House spokesman Reid Cherlin says, then what is exactly the deal that they secretly reached? The White House spokesman's comment indicates that there is indeed an agreement with the drug companies.

Also, when the government say "it is not accurate", more often than not they mean semantics and phraseology. "We don't use word "oppose". We form a committee to study the matter."

By the way, PhRMA is responsible for putting up an awful advertisement promoting the health care "reform" of the administration. When you are unfortunate enough to see the ad featuring "Harry" and "Louise", you can curse PhRMA. (It's a good thing I decided not to upgrade to digital TV, though I miss baseball games and golf tournaments.)


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