From Rich Galen in his Mullings.com piece: "Yet, here it is; in the newspaper of record. The White House had reached a secret deal with the pharmaceutical industry to put a ceiling on the amount of money the government could save by negotiating for lower drug prices. In the words of the NY Times, the White House "had committed to protect drug makers from bearing further costs in the [health care] overhaul" but "had never spelled out the details of the agreement."
"Oh, here we are in graf seven:
The new attention to the agreement could prove embarrassing to the White House, which has sought to keep lobbyists at a distance, including by refusing to hire them to work in the administration".
It turns out that there is a quid pro quo for keeping the drug companies out of the rough and tumble world of free markets. Again, from Mr. Kirkpatrick's piece:
"Failing to publicly confirm [the drug lobby's] descriptions of the deal risked alienating a powerful industry ally currently helping to bankroll millions in television commercials in favor of Mr. Obama's reforms. [emphasis mine] "
"Caught between a pivotal industry ally and the protests of Congressional Democrats, the Obama administration on Friday backed away from what drug industry lobbyists had said this week was a firm White House promise to exclude from a proposed health care overhaul the possibility of allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices under Medicare." That from The New York Times this weekend.
On Wednesday, former Congressman Billy Tauzin, chief lobbyist for Big Pharma, told the New York Times:
“We were assured: ‘We need somebody to come in first. If you come in first, you will have a rock-solid deal,’” Billy Tauzin, the former Republican House member from Louisiana who now leads the pharmaceutical trade group, said Wednesday. “Who is ever going to go into a deal with the White House again if they don’t keep their word? You are just going to duke it out instead.”
This administration has been the self-proclaimed "most ethical, transparent" administration. Ever. So much for ethics and transparency. This President said that the same old, same old would not fly with him. No more closed door deals with lobbyists.
According to The New York Times: "The drug industry has authorized its lobbyists to spend as much as $150 million on television commercials supporting President Obama's health care overhaul, beginning over the August Congressional recess, people briefed on the plans said Saturday. The unusually large scale of the industry's commitment to the cause helps explain some of a contentious back-and-forth playing out in recent days between the odd-couple allies over a deal that the White House struck with the industry in June to secure its support. The terms of the deal were not fully disclosed. Both sides had announced that the drug industry would contribute $80 billion over 10 years to the cost of the health care overhaul without spelling out the details. With House Democrats moving to extract more than that just as the drug makers finalized their advertising plans, the industry lobbyists pressed the Obama administration for public reassurances that it had agreed to cap the industry's additional costs at $80 billion. The White House, meanwhile has struggled to mollify its most pivotal health industry ally without alienating Congressional Democrats who want to demand far more of the drug makers. White House officials could not immediately be reached for comment."
And, from Robert Reich's blog: "But I also care about democracy, and the deal between Big Pharma and the White House frankly worries me. It's bad enough when industry lobbyists extract concessions from members of Congress, which happens all the time. But when an industry gets secret concessions out of the White House in return for a promise to lend the industry's support to a key piece of legislation, we're in big trouble. That's called extortion: An industry is using its capacity to threaten or prevent legislation as a means of altering that legislation for its own benefit. And it's doing so at the highest reaches of our government, in the office of the President. When the industry support comes with an industry-sponsored ad campaign in favor of that legislation, the threat to democracy is even greater. Citizens end up paying for advertisements designed to persuade them that the legislation is in their interest. In this case, those payments come in the form of drug prices that will be higher than otherwise, stretching years into the future."
You may remember Reich was Clinton's Secretary of Labor and a proponent of universal health care.
And, recently in Houston a meeting was hosted by Rep. Kevin Brady, (R-The Woodlands) which was attended by about 90 physicians at Memorial Hermann Hospital - The Woodlands. "I am very concerned about what this will cost us in terms of dollars," said Dr. Wm Parker, the chief medical officer where the meeting was held. "Before this week, they did not tell us any details of the plan. We've had too little time to read, digest and discuss something that will be such a major overhaul of the health care system."
The concern is from all corners. All are aware, now, that this huge legislation is being rushed through with no more thought or consistency than the stimulus/spending bill earlier this year. Or the cap and trade legislation, which will increase energy costs on every American and stunt business growth which will cost jobs. There is a very disturbing pattern here.
Slow down. Let's get this right.