Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. They laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work digging out the truth. Please support this independent journalism today by donating to our critical Fall Campaign. We cannot do it without you. Thank you. -- Craig Brown, Co-founder

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

"Enacting a robust system of direct government drug price negotiation and price spike protections that provides relief to patients regardless of medical condition, insurance provider, or status will save lives and prevent suffering and financial hardship for families across the nation," says a letter to the U.S. president and congressional leaders. (Photo: Juanmonino/Getty Images)

"Enacting a robust system of direct government drug price negotiation and price spike protections that provides relief to patients regardless of medical condition, insurance provider, or status will save lives and prevent suffering and financial hardship for families across the nation," says a letter to the U.S. president and congressional leaders. (Photo: Juanmonino/Getty Images)

Coalition Calls for Bold Pricing Reforms to Save $450 Billion on Drug Costs

The U.S., said one advocate, could "pump those savings back into Medicare" to expand and strengthen the program.

Jessica Corbett

In a letter Friday to U.S. President Joe Biden and congressional leaders, four dozen advocacy groups called for including bold drug pricing reforms in the American Families Plan and using the estimated $450 billion in savings over a decade to invest in popular expansions to Medicare.

"Allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and then reinvesting those savings back into the program to expand services further strengthens our path towards universal coverage for all."
—Mary Small, Indivisible

Specifically, the letter (pdf) proposes adding dental, vision, and hearing benefits to Medicare, lowering the eligibility age for the federal health insurance program to 50—which would expand coverage to about 63 million people—and creating an out-of-pocket cap for medical expenses.

"The time has come to deliver for America's seniors, people with disabilities, and people approaching retirement," write the business, consumer safety, faith, labor, public health, and racial justice groups.

The letter—addressed to the president, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—comes before Biden is expected to unveil his American Families Plan ahead of a speech to Congress next Thursday.

As the letter explains:

The United States spends far more than any other country for pharmaceuticals, and the largest purchaser in the world is the Medicare Part D program. High U.S. drug spending is driven by excessive prices charged by prescription drug corporations, which lead to treatment rationing and preventable negative health outcomes, including death. Enacting a robust system of direct government drug price negotiation and price spike protections that provides relief to patients regardless of medical condition, insurance provider, or status will save lives and prevent suffering and financial hardship for families across the nation.

"Advancing the strongest reform possible is not only the right thing to do in its own right, but stronger reform also has potential to provide greater savings for reinvestment," the letter continues. "Conversely, any weakening of drug pricing reform would reduce savings. Bold drug pricing reform will support building a healthier America, as well as produce hundreds of billions of dollars in savings to reinvest in bolstering coverage."

A majority of people with Medicare are enrolled in Medicare Part D plan, an optional prescription drug benefit provided through private insurers. In February, the Congressional Budget Office put out a report commissioned by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) confirming that Medicare Part D pays far more for medications than any other U.S. government health program.

Sanders said at the time that "negotiating directly with pharmaceutical companies will substantially reduce the price of prescription drugs, and it is a national embarrassment that the secretary of Health and Human Services is prohibited from doing that on behalf of the more than 40 million Americans who get their prescription drug coverage from Medicare Part D."

Representatives from groups behind the new letter echoed that message on Friday.

"Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices down saves money for the federal government," said Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works. "We must pump those savings back into Medicare to expand eligibility and add benefits that equalize Medicare with private insurance."

"Far too many Americans have lost their insurance or put off needed care due to the Covid-19 crisis."
—Eagan Kemp, Public Citizen

The letter, and other advocates, also emphasized how the ongoing coronavirus pandemic—which has killed more than 570,000 people nationwide—has boosted the need for increasing access to Medicare.

"With the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic still being felt in our communities, now is a crucial moment to expand public healthcare coverage and deliver savings on prescription drug prices to the American people," said Mary Small, legislative director for Indivisible. "Lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 50 will be an essential step towards reducing the racial health inequities by increasing coverage to communities of color and low-income folks."

Small added that "allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and then reinvesting those savings back into the program to expand services further strengthens our path towards universal coverage for all."

Expanding access to and improving Medicare is also popular across political party lines, according to polling results (pdf) released with the letter Friday. Data for Progress found that 86% of likely U.S. voters—including 82% of Republicans—support adding dental, hearing, and vision benefits to the program.

The survey, conducted in mid-April, also found that 59% of all voters—including three-quarters of Democrats, a majority of Independents, and nearly half of Republicans—support dropping the Medicare eligibility age to 55.

"Lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 50, capping out-of-pocket costs, and expanding benefits to include dental, hearing, and vision would improve access to care for millions of America," said Public Citizen healthcare policy advocate Eagan Kemp.

"Far too many Americans have lost their insurance or put off needed care due to the Covid-19 crisis," Kemp added. "The Biden administration and Congress have a chance to deliver important progress at a crucial time."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Schumer Endorses 'Inspiring Community Leader' India Walton as Buffalo's Next Mayor

The U.S. Senate majority leader's move comes as some key New York Democrats refuse to back the democratic socialist.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Who Will You Throw Overboard?' Manchin Targeted for Trying to Sink Democratic Agenda

West Virginians gathered at the senator's yacht to demand that he stop blocking the "popular and needed" Build Back Better package.

Jessica Corbett ·


'We Shouldn't Do It at All': Manchin Admits He's the Enemy of Democrats' Ambitions

The right-wing West Virginia Democrat and fossil fuel investor has previously confessed his intent to quash his own party's sweeping $3.5 trillion Build Back Better package.

Brett Wilkins ·


After Getting 'Stealth Bailout' During Pandemic, US Corporations Try to Kill Proposed Tax Hikes

"When it's time to finally put workers first, big businesses are spending millions to maintain their advantage and preserve the status quo," said Kyle Herrig of Accountable.US.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Disgraceful': Just 9 Republicans Join With Dems to Hold Steve Bannon in Criminal Contempt

The vote "reveals just how far the Republican Party has fallen" since Trump took control as GOP's de facto leader, said one pro-democracy advocate.

Jon Queally ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo