Monday :: Nov 16, 2009

Big Pharma Shows Its Colors

by Steve

One of the most enduring legacies, and disappointments of this administration will be its gross naivete when it comes to domestic politics. They thought they could deal with Republicans, and that Republicans wanted to deal with them. They thought they could change Washington, and that their new kind of politics rendered any bitter opposition to them as old-school. They thought they could govern from the center, and that their base would go along with only rhetoric and not substance. They thought the 1990's campaigns of undermining and de-legitimizing an elected president were unique to the Clinton years and not emblematic of the GOP's modus operandi in running a thugocracy.

And they thought they could cut a deal with Big Pharma, because the drug companies wanted to be part of the solution in this new kind of politics, which is why the administration agreed to oppose serious price controls.

Here's their "thank you" card:

In the last year, the industry has raised the wholesale prices of brand-name prescription drugs by about 9 percent, according to industry analysts. That will add more than $10 billion to the nation’s drug bill, which is on track to exceed $300 billion this year. By at least one analysis, it is the highest annual rate of inflation for drug prices since 1992.
The drug trend is distinctly at odds with the direction of the Consumer Price Index, which has fallen by 1.3 percent in the last year.

But what about that agreement with Rahm Emanuel, supported by Max Baucus and the boys about giving back some of those profits in exchange for no government price controls?

But this year’s price increases would effectively cancel out the savings from at least the first year of the Senate Finance agreement. And some critics say the surge in drug prices could change the dynamics of the entire 10-year deal.

“It makes it much easier for the drug companies to pony up the $80 billion because they’ll be making more money,” said Steven D. Findlay, senior health care analyst with the advocacy group Consumers Union.

Note that Big Pharma did the same thing right after Medicare Part D, once they got the government to pay for drugs without price controls. But that was under a free market presidency, so it was expected that the pigs would be at the trough with full government support.

I've reached the point where I have no confidence in this team domestically. They have no use for principles or base convictions, and their policies aren't rooted in anything except deal-making. The health care reform bill does little if anything to deal effectively with costs, but it does manage to hand millions of middle class American taxpayers into the arms of the same bad actors who got us into this mess. Yet the House and Senate progressives are told that they have to support this historic opportunity, when in truth what they're being told is that they have to support this president even when he is a fool supporting bad policy.

I'll pass. This was an opportunity lost, but lost by the White House and its naivete about basic politics, and why policy matters. The next time the GOP rants about government involvement in health care, Democrats should point back to Big Pharma and these outrageous cost increases, and the constant GOP opposition to re-importation from Canada and allowing the government to negotiate for best prices, or any other active involvement on behalf of protecting the taxpayers. But for this White House to seize the high ground again, they would have to demonize and call out those who have bled this country dry, and that would be an old kind of politics that this team doesn't have the guts for.

Steve :: 6:55 AM :: Comments (15) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!