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. 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.
President Obama wants to keep PhRMA from opposing the bill, and benefits by having its support, which now includes a $150-million advertising campaign. That's a fortune in politics, but it's loose change in the pharmaceutical business.
The behind-the-scenes deal negotiated by the Senate Finance Committee in June essentially limits drug companies’ share of costs of national health care reform to a total of $80 billion over 10 years. Meanwhile, 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 or Europe.
As Representative Henry A. Waxman, who heads the Energy and Commerce Committee, told the New York Times:
“PhRMA would like to see if they can get a bargain. I think that PhRMA should contribute more than PhRMA wants to contribute.”
But even as White House officials state the $80-billion contribution from the drug companies to be a “starting point,” nearly everyone recognizes that this type of “behind-closed-doors” agreement gives the drug companies a secure seat at the table on Capitol Hill.
PhRMA, the drug companies trade association, is even going to help underwrite a multimillion-dollar television ad campaign supporting new health care legislation!
Why are Drug Companies Able to Make Deals with the Government?
To someone new to the issue this may be the first question that comes to mind, but it is, unfortunately, one that is also easily answered. The drug companies are the leading lobbyists in Washington, spending more to sway legislation than any other industry.
The pharmaceutical industry spent $1.5 billion lobbying Congress in the last decade, and in so doing has manipulated the government’s involvement with medicine and secondarily reinforced our dependence on them, through government policies.
As you can see in this chart from The Center for Public Integrity, pharmaceutical spending has risen sharply in recent years, which indicates that their “investments” have been paying off.
Among their top “achievements” so far, according to lobbying disclosure reports filed with Congress and accessed by The Center for Public Integrity, were:
• Blocking the importation of inexpensive drugs from other countries
• Protecting pharmaceutical patents both within the United States and abroad
• Ensuring greater market access for pharmaceutical companies in international free trade agreements
And with their latest “deal,” the drug companies are continuing to ensure that their lucrative business is protected -- and any future health care reform does not cut into their profits.
Time to Take Health Care Reform into Your Own Hands
Some questions to consider.
Will a government-sponsored health plan reduce the number of unnecessary prescriptions? Will there be fewer unwarranted surgeries? Will it reduce costs by focusing on prevention, and offering less dangerous and more inexpensive alternatives?
I believe the answer is no.
The focus is still on allopathic approaches and the ability for everyone to afford its conventional therapies and treatment protocols.
So whether a public health care plan is a good idea or not is almost beside the point, because what we REALLY need is a radical change in consciousness about what health and health care really is.
As long as the focus of our health care is on drugs and surgical interventions, we will not see the fundamental changes that are so desperately needed.
It’s time to realize that some of the best ways to improve your health are very inexpensive. Some are even free.
So I urge you to stop waiting for the government to give you the health care reform you’re seeking … but rather to create it for yourself, right now, by starting to Take Control of Your Health.