Democrats in Pay-For-Play Deal With PhRMA?

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Firedoglake

Democrats in Pay-For-Play Deal With PhRMA?

The NYT is reporting that PhRMA will spend $150 million in advertising to support the White House health care plan in August:

The drug industry has already contributed millions of dollars to advertising campaigns for the health care overhaul through the advocacy groups like Healthy Economies Now and Families USA. It has spent about $1 million on similar advertisements under its own name.

All of the commercials closely echo common Democratic themes about medical care for all, consumer protection and "health insurance reform." Some supporters of the overhaul have hired public affairs and advertising firms with close ties to the White House and Senate Democrats, including GMMB, which worked on the Obama campaign, and AKPD, which previously included David Axelrod, who is now the president's top political adviser.  

In a statement released by the President on June 20:

I am pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached between Senator Max Baucus and the nation's pharmaceutical companies that will bring down health care costs and reduce the price of prescription drugs for millions of America's seniors. As part of the health reform legislation that I expect Congress to enact this year, pharmaceutical companies will extend discounts on prescription drugs to millions of seniors who currently are subjected to crushing out-of-pocket expenses when the yearly amounts they pay for medication fall within the doughnut hole any payments by seniors not covered by Medicare that fall between $2700 and $6153.75 per year. 

Former Blue Dog Billy Tauzin, who now heads PhRMA, told the New York Times it was a "rock solid deal." Jim "Stickboy" Messina (Obama's "Josh Lyman") "confirmed Mr. Tauzin's account of the deal in an e-mail message" to the NYT.

McJoan asked the other day if Baucus is writing the White House's health care bill.  I don't think there is any question that he is, that Tauzin knows he is, and that the idea that he's "holding up" the White House is not grounded in reality.  And that the deal cuts the legs out from underneath Jeff Merkeley, who was trying to negotiate for $63 billion in rebates for drugs provided under Medicare.

The only question is how much the Democrats got in exchange for gutting the government's ability to control health care costs.

During the campaign, this was Obama's position:

Obama will allow Americans to buy their medicines from other developed countries if the drugs are safe and prices are lower outside the U.S. Obama will also repeal the ban that prevents the government from negotiating with drug companies, which could result in savings as high as $30 billion.

It no longer appears on the health care page at mybarackobama.com.

But, let's do the math.   In ten years, $30 billion a year would mean $300 billion in savings.   The deal cut by the White House is for $80 billion in savings.  So the pharmaceutical industry gets to keep $220 billion for the low low price of $150 million in August to pass health care reform so Rahm Emanual won't be 13-1.

A hundred fifty million for two hundred twenty billion in savings:  an excellent return on investment by anyone's standards.

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher is the founder of firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on The Daily Beat, Common Dreams, AlterNet, The Nation and The American Prospect.

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